Dreamscape is our new, free game designed to instill a love of reading in students from grades 2-8. By about grade 6, most kids feel like they know whether they like reading or not. Unfortunately, since elementary curricula and resources can sometimes have tightly focused scopes and sequences, some students may not have encountered the styles of reading experiences that they really enjoy. Thus, they decide they don’t like reading at all. We designed Dreamscape to center reading in an atmosphere of fun that kids already know and love: the world of digital games. Gaming strips away the dull and intimidating qualities of some reading resources while encouraging kids to set high goals for themselves. A large part of our goal is to ensure that kids who play Dreamscape will have more positive associations to reading by the time they enter middle school.
In Dreamscape, students must read passages to improve their bases, grow new creatures, and unlock new items. There are hundreds of reading passages in the game, and the passages range across many different genres to expose kids to worlds and types of reading they may never have entered before.
After reading each passage, a question appears that the student must answer correctly in order to advance in the game. If the student answers incorrectly, there is no penalty, just a missed opportunity. This positive reinforcement approach, in contrast to a punitive one, means rewarding kids who answer questions correctly, and nothing but desire to continue reading more passages for those who answer incorrectly. The stakes are low and the motivation is high: a win-win situation.
Our game is free to play, see our infographic here detailing how & why we made Dreamscape free.
Why is Dreamscape necessary?
Approximately 42% of fourth-graders score below average in overall reading skills on the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP). Although this is an American study, the numbers are very similar in Canada. Schools should be trying to reduce this percentage by decreasing student-to-teacher ratios, but unfortunately due to the financial position of most school districts, this option is unviable. We can’t expect schools to have 5 students for every teacher or expect teachers to focus all their time on struggling students and none with excelling students. This lack of reading skills is not only an issue when kids are young. Once kids start to fall behind, it can be very difficult to get them back on track. We need to address this issue as early as possible to ensure students are receiving work that is within their zone of proximal development, meaning they are being challenged and learning, but it’s not so difficult that they require constant teacher assistance.
Dreamscape is a way for you, the educator, to ensure that each student’s individual struggles are being addressed. We see that there is a leak in the boat that is the school system, and we know what it’s going to take to patch it up.
Technology allows teachers to address the academic needs of kids with a variety of different learning levels without having to halt progress with the rest of the class. Dreamscape is the pioneer of educational technology games for English learning and we believe it is the key to patching the holes in the boat.
Why educators should use Dreamscape
Dreamscape has been carefully created by both educational technology experts and teachers. Reading levels in Dreamscape align with Common Core Standards, meaning teachers don’t have to worry whether time spent playing is time spent learning. To back up our statements, Dreamscape was recently voted as the top EdTech app by a panel of experts and teachers at the Future of Educational Technology (FETC) conference in January, 2019. You can read about our victory here.
We recommend allowing students to play Dreamscape for at least 30 minutes each week, although for optimal learning, this number should be closer to an hour. This is a perfect game to allow the kids to play during their Friday English class when they are ready for the weekend and full of energy. Dreamscape allows them to give 100% of their focus, keeping the classroom quiet, while they drive their own learning.
Many teachers have flagged a major problem in most elementary school classes: there are simply too many students for the teacher to be able to focus on the ones who have a hard time. The result is students not getting the attention they require, and lowered morale amongst teachers who just want to provide every student with the help they need to succeed.
The difficulty of the reading passages in Dreamscape adjusts depending on how well the player can answer the questions, this is called adaptive testing. Adaptive testing caters to struggling students, excelling students, and all in between. The game keeps students in their zone of proximal development.
By implementing Dreamscape in your classroom, it will give the kids the support and practice they require, while keeping it fun! Our goal is to increase the average reading level of elementary school kids. If we are able to achieve our goal, Dreamscape will have a ripple effect throughout the world that results in citizens who are not only able to read at a high-level– but who actually enjoy it too!
Why parents should encourage use
By the time a student graduates high school, on average they will have played video games for a total time of approximately 10,000 hours. Coincidentally, this is the near-exact amount of time that they have attended all of their classes, if they have perfect attendance. Most schools have technology for students to use and most parents allow their kids to play on their devices, so why not let them play something educational? We designed Dreamscape to compete with the most popular kids games in the world in terms of engagement and playability, while also including the educational aspect that no other games at this level provide.
Why not encourage the use of educational technology in the classroom as opposed to the common stance of discouraging the usage of any technology? Not only would it help your students academically, but getting encouragement to play video games is certain to make any kid happy.
It may take some getting used to, but the education system must evolve with the society it is part of. The next logical step is thoughtful and strategic technology implementation. Why not become one of the early adapters?
Teaching is a challenging profession that seems to be getting more challenging all the time. Why not try out a free, high quality resource that will make your life a bit easier while providing your students with freedom, joy, and education all-in-one?
Sign up for Dreamscape here: http://go.pardot.com/l/406482/2019-02-13/78j3x1
Our team here at Squiggle Park is incredibly passionate about creating a future where every person has access to education and can become passionate about learning. Here’s to that future.