Cathode Tan - Games, Media and Geek Stuff
logo design by man bytes blog

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Kids Learning Writing With Myst

Fifteen children between the ages of 9 and 11 are staring at the computer screen, mesmerized, as the adventure game Myst III: Exile is played. In the middle of the group sits Tim Rylands, the most popular teacher at the small elementary school Chew Magna, in the village of the same name near the English city of Bristol. Once more he manuevers his cordless mouse to guide the cursor along the dark walls of a hollow mountainside. Rylands then tells his students, "OK, now write down which way we should go to get to the ladder. What do you come across? What do you experience on your journey?" The only sound heard is the furious scribbling of pens.

Rylands has found a way to make writing fun for kids. Myst is a beautifully designed series of computer games set on a mysterious deserted island that can be endlessly navigated. According to Rylands, the visually rich landscape inspires his students' creativity.

He can back up that claim with data. An average of 75 percent of English children between the ages of 9 and 11 reach so-called "level four literacy levels" in reading and writing (including spelling, grammar, vocabulary, etc.). At Chew Magna, that percentage stood at 77 in 2000, rising to 93 four years later after Rylands began using computers to help teach writing. Boys in particular, who normally score lower in these areas, have made tremendous progress. One hundred percent reach level four, compared to 67 percent in 2000.
-- AlterNet: Reading, Writing and Video Gaming

Pretty smart, really. Give kids a common and vibrant experience to pull from and get excited about. Myst is a great choice - rich in detail and family friendly. Plus it's a puzzler - so they're actually engaged in the experience and thinking about the environment. One of my writing teachers in high school had a nervous breakdown and had to take three weeks off to stay at home in a dark room. I would rather have had Myst.

tagged: ,

No comments: