Arcademic Skill Builders is a free online game site for students in grades 1 through 6, with an option for teachers to upgrade to Arcademic Plus for a low yearly fee. The games cover a wide range of topics, primarily in math and language arts. Here’s a list of options:
The games feature an interesting and broad scope of graphics, from puppies to koalas to racing cars. The site was originally conceived at the University of Kansas School of Education; 3% of every upgrade purchase is donated to the Boys & Girls Clubs of America.
These online games have two primary features. First, they are typically timed games, with a goal of improving automaticity and fluency in skills. Second, many are multi-player and allow kids from all over the world to compete against one another (although there is little chance of determining a student’s identity). With the upgrade to Arcademic Plus, teachers can assign groups or entire classes opportunities to compete against one another or to better their own performance. The upgrade also allows teachers to track accuracy and rate of responses for individual assignments.
As a special education teacher, I have mixed feelings about the competitive aspect of the games. I use timed measures of performance to improve student awareness of progress and know that achievement is correlated with automaticity and fluency. A few of my students relish an opportunity to win “first place” and earn a trophy. On the other hand, many of my kids are so weak in fluency that their game scores are always dismal. There is an option to play against the computer but sometimes “last second” players jump in, so my kids end up below third place.
I have signed up for a free 30 day trial to see if the monitoring feature is worth an investment. My experience suggests that this is a site better suited for regular education kids who can handle competition without a blow to their self esteem.
What do you think? Have you used this site?