Online programs a valuable tool to bridge educational gaps

by James Reid05 Aug 2016

In a week of discussion about education funding, NAPLAN and literacy standards, an online competition is showcasing how digital technologies can have a hugely positive, and cost-effective, impact in today’s classrooms.

Word Mania 2016 is a free competition for schools and has quickly become a national event boosting students’ literacy skills. More than 250,000 students from 2,000 schools around the country are playing, intensively improving their literacy skills for fun. 

Based on a gamified digital word building game developed by online education program LiteracyPlanet, students are so enthralled by the challenge that they are clocking up more than 500,000 minutes creating millions of words each day. The exercise involves phonics, spelling, vocabulary, word recognition and word knowledge.

Deborah Blair, literacy coordinator at Regina Coeli Catholic Primary School, located in Beverly Hills, NSW, told The Educator that her entire school had “Word Mania fever”.

“The Year 1 students are so motivated and are challenging themselves to make bigger words,” she said.

“They've learnt and practised spelling skills, including adding word endings and making rhymes. I'm excited to watch this great learning happening in my class”.

From remote parts of Australia to major capital cities, schools of all types have incorporated Word Mania into class literacy teaching.

LiteracyPlanet CEO, Adam McArthur, told The Educator the response has been astounding, and it’s exciting to see evidence of so many students’ skills improving as they play:

“We are bowled over by the enthusiasm for Word Mania 2016. The more engaged schools are and the more students play, the better they get. The competition data shows how students’ scores and literacy skills are improving in real time,” he said.

“It is exciting to see the rapid gains students are making over the short competition period.”

McArthur added that an encouraging aspect of Word Mania – and digital resources like LiteracyPlanet in general – was that it is accessible to anyone from any internet connected device, and is equally engaging for any age and ability.

“Each student feels like they are achieving and doing well, and is motivated to improve,” he said. 

According to Tina Seckold, head teacher for English at Nambucca Heads High School, the competition has also stimulated collaboration between students.

“Word Mania has been great for our classes. The conversations it generates are wonderful,” she said.

“Students talk enthusiastically about strategies using word combinations, helping each other out with vocabulary, and debating spelling - conversations we don't hear very often”.

Word Mania is one of thousands of exercises in LiteracyPlanet, a comprehensive resource for students F-9, developed in Australia and proven by independent research to improve learning outcomes.

By request, schools can trial other parts of the program during the competition. Interested schools can contact LiteracyPlanet directly on 1300 565 696 or email wordmania@literacyplanet.com

“We encourage schools to use this opportunity to investigate LiteracyPlanet and how a digital resource can contribute to their literacy teaching and improve learning outcomes,” said McArthur. 

Schools can register for their students to participate in Word Mania 2016 at www.wordmania.com.au.

The competition closes to new entrants on August 12.

 

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