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Video Games Can Educate: Wii in the Classroom

Patty Murray

Wii in the ClassroomVideo games and educational lessons -- seems like an oxymoron, right? Well not so much anymore. With the latest gaming technology, students can now use video games to improve their exercise, fitness, math, science, and cognitive skills. These digital learning devices are making their way into more and more classrooms as teachers are finding them to be a great learning resource. 

The Wii system is one of those gaming systems that is providing digital fun activities to students. Here is a look at this system and games schools are using in their classrooms.

The Low Down on Wii

If you have never played Wii, then you might now be aware of the many options of activities this system offers and the unique features that set it apart from other video games systems. The most distinctive asset is the participation in games through motion.

Many schools are finding value in this feature because physical activity is involved in nearly every game. It also doesn't hurt that kids are crazy over it. Mention Wii to your classroom and guaranteed most of the students know every game available. So why not use a system that most kids are already excited about and enthusiastic to use to get them motivated to learn?

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Wii for Physical Fitness & Exercise

Research found that many Wii activities can burn as many calories as a bike ride or a run and participating in these active games can prevent and improve obesity, heart diseases, and diabetes.  Check out the other health benefits from Wii activities.  Here is a look at two popular fitness games that could be integrated for physical fitness in schools.

Wii Fit

Wii Fit is broken down into 4 main categories: Yoga, Strength Training, Aerobics, and Balance Games. Out of these categories falls over 40 different activities and exercises. Check out how one Alabama school used the Wii Fit to fight childhood obesity within their school.

Wii Sports

Another highly interactive game is Wii Sports. Wii Sports offers a variety of sporting activities. It consists of bowling, baseball, boxing, tennis, and golf. Like playing real time baseball, tennis, and soccer, Wii Sports involve the actual motion of the sports without the space and equipment they normally require. Multiple skill levels are available so students can find their niche.

One special education teacher is turning to the Wii system as a learning resource for her special needs students.  She has turned to using Wii Sports in her classroom to help her students with their hand-eye coordination. You can learn more about her success with Wii Sports in the classroom.

Wii for Classroom Lessons

Not only is Wii a good way to get kids excited about fitness, it can also get students excited about learning.

Some Wii Sportsof these games can be doubled as math lessons. In his blog, educator Tom Barret shares how he created a Wii Golf subtraction lesson.

Your Own Wii Whiteboard

Are you one of those thousands of teachers that does not have a Smartboard? With a Wii remote and a few other gadgets, you can create your own interactive Whiteboard for around $50.00. Educator Theresa McGee provides a step-by-step tutorial on how to successfully create your own classroom Whiteboard.

Marine Life Lessons with Wii Endless Oceans

Students are introduced to new species and  underwater habitats as they explore an underwater world  as a class through this virtual game. Ed blogger Tom Barrett created an extensive marine life lesson plan that lasted several weeks and was based around this game.  He shares his experience and gives feedback and pointers on how to use Wii's Endless Oceans Marine Life lesson.

Science & Geography with Wii Wild Earth: African Safari

This Wii game is a great resource for science and geography lessons as it allows a digital look into the African wildlife and gives detail on animals and their habitats. It touches upon geography as it works with latitude and longitude. Peter Richardson from primarypete.net created a week long “Wild Earth” themed lesson that used this game as a portal for the lesson plan.

Problem Solving with Wii Big Brain Academy

This Wii game consists of questions and puzzles that challenges players to think, analyze, memorize, compute, and identify. Teachers can break students down into groups and have them compete against one another. Jaye, teacher and Mimanifesto blogger shares her experience with Big Brain Academy in the classroomand gives suggestions on lesson plans that can be based around the game.

Where to Find the Funds?

As teachers, you know that funding can be difficult to find for pencils, much less video games, and Wii’s aren’t cheap. A new system costs roughly around $200.00 while games can cost up to $75.00. How are schools are suppose to find the funds for this?

Wii School Donations

Some parents are donating to the cause while other teachers seek funding on DonorsChoose.org. This website was chosen as one of Oprah’s Favorite things 2010. It is an online charity which connects donors with classrooms in need. Check out the many classrooms that were successfully donated a Wii system through this organization.

Private, federal or individual grants may be available outside DonorsChoose, especially with the new initiatives for schools being pushed by the New Nutrition Childhood Nutrition Act.  

Wii School Grants

Another option would be to look on refurbished and discounted websites such as ebay or amazon stores. Wii systems are available new and used, and the used ones are generally available at a discounted price.

Bring Your Wii to School Day

If you still cannot obtain funding, reach out to your students to bring in the Wii (or your own home, if you've got one and are feeling generous) for a special reward day or for your experimental lesson. Make sure you have parental permission if students are bringing in their Wii and keep a close eye on it during the day. Warning: you do this at your own risk!

 

Do you think using Wii in the classroom is beneficial to students? Share in the comments section!

 

Image source: (Nintendo) Music teacher Eileen Jahn of St. Philip’s Academy in Newark, N.J., instructs (from left to right) students Jordan Taylor, Andrew Vollenberg, Haraan Ransom and Morgan Scott using "Wii Music."