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Snow Days, Game Days

Snow is in the forecast, and you don’t want your students to lose pace with the curriculum. What to do? Educational digital games are the solution. An easy way to make sure that your students review and practice material, so they do not become rusty with concepts covered in class. This can also be a great solution to help front load students for new concepts that will be taught once the abominable snow recedes.

By taking the time to set up a digital classroom, you can ensure that your students (and their parents) will be able to access any materials, resources or information you wish them to have available to them on their “snowcation.” Google Classroom has been a great tool to fulfill this need for teachers. Here a teacher can create assignments, announcements, insert links to games and monitor their student’s activity. If you don’t have access to Google Classroom, it could be a separate section on your school web page.

By creating the digital classroom, a teacher has taken steps to ensure that some form of learning is taking place at home by creating a digital platform for communication. Here as a teacher, I can give students dialog and directions to play certain educational games that will supplement our previous instruction, cover instruction missed, and utilize games as digital instruction to prepare students for material they are going to see in the near future. Teacher’s directions can be as simple as; play this game, play this game to a specified level, or play this game and achieve a certain score. Most educational games are also including a reporting system, so depending on the game assigned, it is up to the teacher how they will collect the student’s progress by either looking at the game’s report or having students record their progress in the Google Classroom assignment feature.

The old snow days of sitting around and just watching television are over. With the easy accessibility of the internet, teachers can now reach out to students to make sure students do not lose out on precious instructional time! It’s also not a bad deal for the students who get assigned to play games, and the byproduct just happens to be learning!


Memorize the Solar System!

What is the best way to teach students about the solar system? As an instructor, what instructional methods might you choose to present the content? The traditional method chosen is to have students read about the solar system from their science textbook or do you choose to utilize Game-Based Learning? The first method can be dry, impersonal, and depending on the year it was published, inaccurate. Some instructors will infuse text readings with primary sources, such as articles, videos, and photos from or about space to help students visualize and understand the content better. These additions will supplement and heighten instruction to encompass visual, spatial, linguistic and auditory modes of learning.

After teaching about the solar system, many students are required to show proficiency on an assessment or project. To prepare for this, one method chosen by students is to make flashcards. This form of learning or memorization only works for some students; one such proficient example of this form of learning is the brilliant four-year-old Brielle. Watch her here on the Ellen Show!

But as all seasoned teachers know, flashcards are not a tool that works for all students. What all students need are hands-on experiences that allow students to explore and apply the new information found in their schema. Now, this can be hard to do while learning about the solar system, being that the closest planet, Venus, can vary from 38 million to 261 million kilometers away. This presents a problem if we want students to apply new understanding of concepts learned to real life examples.

One solution is virtual reality. Pairing traditional methods of instruction with game-based learning can lead to amazing results. Games are digital learning tools that allow a student to apply their knowledge while playing and analyze the outcomes to determine if concepts need to be revisited and reviewed in a non-threatening environment. Losing a game does not hold the same negative stigma that a bad grade on an exam holds. A student can play and replay a game until mastery of the concept or level is achieved!

Within this format, a teacher will be able to gather and determine their student’s performance and therefore determine areas that need to be reviewed and which areas show mastery. This method of instruction is called Game-Based Learning and it is proving to be a great way to blend curriculum standards with interactive learning fun.

To learn more about Game-Based Learning check out the infographic below from www.online-education-degrees.net.

To explore the solar system, check out our new educational digital game; ExoTrex Episode 1 and begin the journey incorporating Game-Based Learning into your classroom!


Teacher Gift That Keeps On Giving

Time just escapes us when we are having fun making educational games for students around the world.  Where did the year 2016 go?  As we near the end of the year the month of December is one of giving and sharing.  We have shared a lot with the education community and wanted to find a way to continue some of that sharing during the giving season.

Are you giving a gift to your child’s teacher this year?  What if you could give a gift to your child’s whole classroom and to a classroom of underserved students for the same price?  With our Get One Give One Program you can give two classroom’s worth of games for less than $25.  For a limited time, purchase 25 copies of Excavate!™, Excavate!™ Egypt, Loot Pursuit™ Maya, or Loot Pursuit™ Early America for a 67% discount off the individual price. You send the games to the teacher of your choice and we will donate a classroom’s worth of games to a teacher at an underserved school.  Just add the game of your choice to your cart, apply the discount code TEACHER2016 and send the license keys you receive to your teacher.  It’s the gift that truly keeps on giving and with your help we can eradicate summer learning loss.  Offer expires 12/31/2016.  For more information on our campaign to fight summer learning loss, visit our GOGO Learn page.

 

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Cultural Awareness Stickers

We are pleased to announce our support of cultural heritage awareness with a new pack of iMessage stickers for iPhone and iPad users.  Have you ever needed to send a friend a bucket or a shovel? Ever wished you could send an Eye of Horus to someone you care about? Or maybe a Roman coin to that penny-pinching friend? With the Archaeology Emoji Sticker pack, now you can have more fun with history!

This package was published for Archaeology Day October 15, 2016 to help promote archaeology awareness worldwide. Protecting endangered archaeological sites has become a pressing issue for the community and it is our goal to use media like this to advocate greater preservation of cultural heritage. The more you use the stickers in your message, the greater the awareness. However, advocacy aside, it is just fun so share them, so get your friends to get them too and start sending archaeology messages today!

archaeology stickers

DIG-IT! Games is committed to producing educational games that introduce archaeology into classroom curriculum. You can explore our efforts in the app store.

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ExoTrex Space Adventure Game

“Space: the final frontier. These are the voyages of the starship ….B.E.A.K.E.R…. Its continuing mission: to explore strange new worlds, to seek out new life and new civilizations, to boldly go where no one has gone before.”

Many will remember this phrase from the introductory sequence of the Star Trek series but in this case our starship is not the Enterprise, but B.E.A.K.E.R, the ship introduced in our newest space adventure STEM game, ExoTrex™. ExoTrex™ takes place in the not-so distant future, where humanity has used up all Earth’s resources and must find a new place to live. Using an innovative new fuel cell called B.E.A.K.E.R (Basic Element Analysis Kinetic Energy Reactor), players must use their chemistry and critical thinking skills to explore deep space and investigate exoplanets to find a new home for the human race.

For many middle and high school students, chemistry, physics and planetary science studies might seem just as challenging as the Enterprise’s mission in Star Trek, but ExoTrex™ can help. ExoTrex™ was designed for students from 8th to 10th grades and uses fun puzzles and problem solving exercises to build critical thinking skills that promote college and career readiness across STEM content areas including: science, math, and science literacy. In an effort to reach underserved students, DIG-IT! Games® ensured the ExoTrex™ narrative and characters would also appeal to minority students who are severely underrepresented in STEM education and careers.

In the newly released Episode 1 of ExoTrex™, players prove their readiness for the mission by completing a series of training exercises that test their chemistry understanding, knowledge of space history and critical thinking skills. Players who make it through this rigorous mission training will take the B.E.A.K.E.R. ship on a variety of exploratory missions in space in future episodes.

 

Students who play ExoTrex™ will meet Dr. Gerald Burke, an African American character who is based on the grandfather of DIG-IT! Games Artist Mikel Wellington. As DIG-IT! Games’ CEO says, “Dr. Burke’s presence in the game elevates the product from a game about science to a game about successfully overcoming barriers and challenges. His story is inspirational and it’s our hope that including him in this game will serve to motivate students of color to enter STEM fields.”

To increase the reach and impact of ExoTrex™, DIG-IT! Games partnered with renowned Astrophysicist, Dr. Hakeem Oluseyi who, in addition to being a star on the popular TV show, Outrageous Acts of Science, is also the Chief Science Officer for both Discovery Communications and the Science Channel.

“The decision to partner with DIG-IT! Games was easy because we are both on a mission to use innovative ways to teach and to reach underserved kids.” Says Dr. Oluseyi, “The diversity in ExoTrex™ is especially important because it’s empowering to students to see and hear someone who looks like them and sounds like them doing science. Today you have to capture kids’ attention in seconds. The visuals in ExoTrex™ do that.”

 

The game’s three episodes will challenge students to not only learn to power the ion propulsion ship, but also to sample the planetary characteristics of known and unknown planets as they analyze, evaluate and make recommendations for an alternative to Earth. Students will love this immersive STEM experience while they have a hand in helping humanity in the not-too-distant future!

Learn more about the game and how to purchase it here. This game is part of our “Get One, Give One” campaign (#GOGOLEARN) where we give away one game for each game purchased. Learn more about our GoGoLearn campaign and our partnership with NSLA to fight summer learning loss through gaming here.

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Unity3D – Dinosaurs and a Word Game

Our studio has been working hard through the summer on a number of projects soon to be released.  The summer came and went in a blast until we realized Labor Day weekend had arrived.  Did we have enough summer fun?  Of course we did because we build games for a living; what could be more fun than that.  But, how about taking a moment and do a hackathon for a game that came from the many game ideas floating around in the studio?  This week we decided to jump in and build a crazy game involving space, farts, spelling and of course a dinosaur.

tyronne in space

Today is day 3 of our three-day marathon hackathon to build a prototype of the game in Unity3D.  The studio has been abuzz stroking pens on tablets and creating space stations, dinosaurs, and retro 80s game backgrounds.  Think Atari console games and an image of the behind the scenes work might appear for some.  However, for those too young to remember Atari games here is a splash of some of the art.

Game development is a team effort and everyone is participating and some acting in different roles adding to the fun.  Now you will recall we did say farts.  While we won’t give away the whole game mechanic yet words like toot, gas, poof have been bringing some laughs, tears and groans in the studio.  Then there are the sounds of groaning dinosaurs as the team brings the sound effects into play.

This has been a fun exercise for the team and the end of the hackathon is drawing near.  How close will we get?  We hope to have a playable game that we might share with our customers and friends.  Getting a sneak peak is easy by registering on our game portal. Once a version is available for initial feedback it will appear in your game library.

Say hello to an early base mesh version of the dino!

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Summer Learning Loss Campaign #gogolearn

Summer Learning Loss

Fighting Summer Learning Loss with Games

Note: This is an early preview of our Summer Learning Loss Campaign – On July 14th all the details will be updated here.

At Dig-It! Games®, we are committed to improving education. As our corporate mission states, “we believe in the power of games to change how kids learn by promoting critical thinking, independent learning, and cultural understanding. Our games incorporate age-appropriate content in math, science, social studies and language arts into fun, interactive and engaging learning experiences. Through our seamless blend of fun and learning, we seek to foster the joy of intellectual discovery and inspire kids to think differently about learning.”

The education community has recently come to understand the true value of game-based learning and games are being regularly integrated into curricula. Currently, half of all K-12 teachers are using games in their classrooms in a meaningful way. These educators recognize the value of games in their students’ learning experiences and the potential of using the data collected by digital games to improve students’ learning and create personalized learning environments. Teachers are finding that games are effective in improving executive function skills, 21st century skills, technology skills, Literacy and Math skills, and more.

Unfortunately, those most in need of our products are often least able to use them. Teachers report that digital games help low-performing students catch up and motivate them to learn more. Digital games not only improve student performance, but positively impact student behavior and attendance. But the digital divide remains, making it a challenge for the students who could benefit the most from game-based learning to gain access to digital learning products.

At Dig-It! Games®, we recognize this challenge and are working to help close the achievement gap. We have spent the past several months rebuilding our infrastructure to provide access to our products from any device on any platform. This device-agnostic approach meets kids where they are: on their phones and other mobile devices. Although bandwidth and data access remain a problem for many students in America, we are happy to be taking steps in the right direction. Our games are also now available on Chromebooks, a more affordable option for schools and parents both.

But we can do more. Every summer, low-income students lose 2-3 months of academic skills compared to their higher-income peers. These gaps in math, reading and other skills add up: by 5th grade, students can be as much as 3 years behind! Summer Learning Loss is real, and affects low-income students disproportionately. Dig-It! Games is joining a national movement to eradicate Summer Learning Loss. Led by the National Summer Learning Association, partners around the country are hosting Summer Learning Day events on July 14, 2016 to raise awareness for this vital educational initiative. To learn more about Summer Learning Day or to find an event near you, visit http://www.summerlearning.org/summer-learning-day/. Dig-It! Games will be hosting an event to raise awareness in our community. We hope you will join us at on July 14, 2016 at Veterans Park in Bethesda.

It’s a great start, but we believe we can do even more. Games are a perfect tool to prevent Summer Learning Loss and keep kids engaged in learning throughout the summer months. Games build content knowledge, problem solving skills, critical thinking skills, and so much more. Plus, they’re just fun! Who doesn’t want to be an archaeologist, or search through Maya pyramids or explore space in an engaging game? However, we realize that the students who are most affected by Summer Learning Loss can’t afford these fun experiences. So we are proud to announce our new “Get One, Give One” initiative.

Through “Get One, Give One,” for every game purchased or downloaded this summer we will give a game to a low-income student. Download a Dig-It! game from the iOS App Store or download or buy a game on our website  and we will donate a game to one of our partner organizations to distribute to a child in need. Any game. Free or paid. Big or small. We’re serious about fighting Summer Learning Loss, but we need your help.

If you are or know an organization that can benefit from this campaign you can submit an application here.

As an added incentive, the initial donated game will be our brand new science game ExoTrex™, which with a pre-release retail price of $5.99. So, buy ExoTrex™ for yourself and know that a child is receiving access to a high-quality science game they couldn’t otherwise afford. Or play Excavate!™ for free and that child will still get ExoTrex™ to improve his/her chemistry skills before school starts back up in the fall.

The more you Get, the more we Give. So spend your summer building your vocabulary, exploring the Maya jungle and excavating artifacts! With 10 games to choose from (and more coming this summer), there’s something for everyone. Why not try them all? The kids suffering from Summer Learning Loss will thank you.

EXOTREX Summer Learning

Excavate

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I Have A Word – America

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Free to play the week of the 4th of July – Just register at games.dig-itgames.com and it will automatically be in your library. For those who are already registered, just login and you will see it in your library.

Our most popular word puzzle game I Have A Word has been available on the Apple iTunes store since last year. To celebrate the 240th birthday of the United States we created a web version of this deductive thinking game with a 4th of July flavor. A great game to play with the family on a road trip or lying on a blanket waiting for the fireworks.


Summer Learning Loss. Don’t let your kids slip down the “Summer Slide”

Summer is here and you know what that means: summer break for your kids. No more waking up at the break of dawn to sluggishly get dressed for school, no more rushing out of the house in hopes of making it to the bus stop on time and no more eight-hour school days. Summer vacation to many kids include sleeping in, watching television, playing games and spending a bulk of their time on social media. Now, while we completely understand the excitement for this lackadaisical lifestyle, this can lead to a more serious issue: summer learning loss.

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Summer learning loss, also known as the “summer slide,” has been a topic of discussion amongst parents and educators for a while now. This term describes the loss of academic knowledge throughout the span of your child’s summer break. Studies show that the problem is particularly acute among low-income students who lose an average of more than two months in reading achievement in the summer, which slows their progress toward third grade reading proficiency.

 

Aside from idle time aiding in summer learning loss, many view video games as a contributing factor. The vision of kids laying on the couch with their eyes glued to videos game for hours at a time, is enough to make some cringe. But contrary to popular belief, video games can actually assist in the learning and developmental process of children. Recent research has proven that gaming can increase brain function, problem solving skills, spatial reasoning, memory, attention span, strategic planning, and even social skills.

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We believe in the power of game-based learning and its ability to enhance education through promoting critical thinking, independent learning and fun with intellectual discovery. Our games and those from other developers can fill part of the learning gap this summer while blending fun and education together.  However, we realize that the students who are most affected by Summer Learning Loss can’t afford these fun experiences.  So we will soon be announcing our new “Get One, Give One” initiative (#gogolearn) to help those most affected.  Stay tuned for more on this program and how to be a partner next week.

Explore our game on the Apple App store and our game store library to explore summer learning with games.  Our newest game ExoTrex!, designed for students ages 12 to 15, takes players on a space mission that promotes learning and fun through the subjects of Chemistry, Astrophysics and Space Science. Exotrex! is a perfect game to reinforce these topics covered throughout the school year or for parents to expose their kids to these subjects prior to starting school. We are excited to announce this game will be available in mid-July. In the meantime, slide over to our library of educational games, ranging from archaeological excavation games to challenging vocabulary games, so you can be the first to know when ExoTrex! becomes available.

 


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