Dimension U: A Letter to Parents

Dear concerned Parent.

Do not deny your concern, most of us would be if our child’s teacher came waltzing in telling you that one of the most powerful teaching tools he or she used was a video game. However, that is exactly what I am proposing. In this case the game is called Dimension U and there are four games. I have been combing this game for a weak link that brings it down. There are few complaints to be found.

What is Dimension U? That is a bit tricky; it is a game, a teaching tool and an assessment tool. It engages students and encourages them to improve. It can be played in multiplayer or as a single used. The content of each game contest can be pre-set by the teacher, other students or your own child. If a student really is having difficulty with a concept they can read up about it in the “codes” section of the game. For example I was completing a game based on “Language Conventions”; within the game I did well, however, I wanted to see what help was available and selected the “code” tab between games. This opened up a window with a short lesson (in text form) explaining the rules for capitalizing organizations and titles. I then returned to the game and practiced these skills.

So you might think great a fun pseudo educational game for after school with a little educational value, right? Wrong, there is an exceptional opportunity here. Through Dimension U (I was using the Literacy portion, the Math portion is equally impressive) students can have a selective or broad curriculum tested. A student’s teacher may access a report and see patterns related to student success. If a student is doing well spelling words but struggling with capitalization rules; the teacher will be able to see that. This allows for specific correction and instruction to develop student learning. The topics available at the Middle High level (I am planning for grade Seven) include:

Language Conventions

· Capitalization rules

· Punctuation

· Grade level spelling practice

Parts of Speech

· Compaitive and Superlative

· Conjunctions

· Pronouns

· Phrases and clauses

· Prepositional phrases

· Subject / verb agreement

· Verb and participles

Reading

· Cause and Effect

· Fact and opinion

· Main idea and supporting details

· Denote and connote meaning

· Summarize, paraphrase and inference

Vocabulary

· Dictionary entries

· Analogies

· Words and phrases with a foreign heritage

· Words with multiple meanings

· Words to know

Writing

· Sequence of events

· Coherent transitions

· Complete sentences

· Paragraph clarity

· Combining sentences

Wow right? So you might be thinking… this is great no other resource needed, this is it. Well hold on now. While this is a great resource it is sort of like a drill for math facts and processes. Yes, there is a resource within Dimension U where students can get an explanation in regards to weak areas. However, they need to go there and apply what they see. Not all students will pay close attention to what they are getting wrong while playing as they are focused on winning. Further, not all students will read the explanation and understand it. They may, and likely will need help. Finally while this is a great resource it does not replace a novel, poem or play in terms of literary appreciation or the rich quality of story and experience available through such texts.

So what is Dimension U? It is a teaching tool that engages students in learning Language and Math facts and rules (the boring stuff they tend not to like). Students practice and apply these to achieve and win contests of skill. Dimension U is also a lot of fun. Students are engaged and desire success and are thus more willing to gain the skill they need to meet their goals. I hope you choose to engage in Dimension U as well. I look forward to practicing my skills with or against you.

Let the games begin!

Ryan Titley