District Administration June 2017 - 53

An outlet for special needs students
Like athletes or singers, students with
special needs can often benefit from
warming up before showtime, says Frank
Lieberman, executive director of KNeoWorld, which produces digital games for
"exceptional learning requirements."
"I like to say we are a warmup to the
academics, but I don't want to downplay
the learning aspect," says Lieberman,
talking about the digital game series
called KneoESP, used in New York City
public schools. "The games enhance
math, reading, geography, reasoning."
For example, when students learn
to read, a teacher can first play a digital
word game in which a visual cue, like a
picture of a cat or a hat, appears with
letters that must be unscrambled to
spell the word. "It helps them understand phonics and reading,'' says Elizabeth Haukaas, corporate communications director for KNeoWorld. "They
learn the sound is attached to a letter,
the letter is attached to a word. It's especially helpful for visual learners."
Ryan Schaaf, assistant professor of
technology in the Notre Dame of Maryland University School of Education,
says the technology itself is often a
draw for students who learn differently
than typically developing children.
Many students with special needs,
such as autism, gravitate toward technology because "it's an outlet for them to express themselves," Schaaf says. "To communicate in the world could be difficult,
but online there are no consequences to
making a mistake. If they get something
wrong, they can just do it again."
Auditory and visual cues accommodate different learning preferences
for students, and not being forced to
interact with other people can help.
"You don't get oppositional defiance
with a game because you can't argue
with rules the way you can argue with a
teacher," Schaaf says.
Many schools use Minecraft, the
digital block-building game, to teach
math concepts such as area and perimeter or science lessons related to plant-

ing crops for a virtual community being
built. The game often captivates children with ADHD, says Matthew Farber,
a social studies teacher at Valleyview
Middle School in New Jersey, and author of Gamify Your Classroom: A Field
Guide to Game-Based Learning. "It is
also multimodal," Farber says of Minecraft. "Students
can play together in a 1
DA-ad-4.375x6.75in-2017.pdf

H OT TR END AL ER T

DO ES Y O UR S CHO O L HAVE A

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www.DistrictAdministration.com

shared virtual world, communicating in
text chat and with others' avatars. Anecdotally, some students with Aspergers do well in such environments."
Digital games engross students so
they can get to the business of learning.
"Engagement and behavior go hand in
hand," Haukaas says. "If students are focused,
they can
learn."
-R.W.
2017-03-24
6:35 PM

Transform a dull classroom into an exciting
learning experience for all of your students add a Financial Literacy Lab to your school!

K

. . . VISIT WWW.STOCKTRAK.COM/FLL
TO LEARN MORE .. .

(770) 337-7720

June 2017 53


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Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of District Administration June 2017

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