Oct. 24, 2012
BKW elementary teacher uses voice and face recognition unit to enhance lessons
When Microsoft advertised they were looking for teachers to pilot new student-oriented games for the Xbox Kinect, BKW fourth grade teacher Bill Dergosits jumped at the chance. He was eager to integrate a new way to reinforce math skills into his classroom and create more engagement with his lessons.
Then one day the Xbox arrived, along with 200 lessons that were written to incorporate the Kinect based on Common Core Standards. The device itself works by turning the body into a video game controller. Kinect uses face and voice recognition software to find a player in the room, even if its a student playing with a group of classmates. While Dergosits' class only had access to the Kinect for two weeks, it was two weeks to remember.
“All the games were a blast,” said Dergostis. “It's great for challenging the students at their individual level. The program can identify each student when they stand in front of the sensor and tailors their activities based upon their success and failure of their participation at an earlier time. Even when two or three others are playing on the same screen at the same time, their game’s character is adjusted to their ability. It’s been a huge success in our classroom.”
The games that Microsoft included in the demo were Kinect Sport 1 and 2, Kinect Adventure and Body and Brain Connection.
“We used it to reinforce math skills like finding missing variables in equations and making math symbols with our bodies,“ Dergosits continued. “It is also great for working on our coordination, motor skills and teamwork.”
As pressure to incorporate more interest in STEM (Science Technology Engineering and Math) curriculum rises in U.S. public education, programs like this show that kids can be creative and active while learning math skills in these innovative classroom environments. If the responses of the BKW fourth grade students say anything about these kinds of programs, it's a step forward in a new way of thinking about education.