Student's wish brings educational game to Bottenfield
CHAMPAIGN — If you want to get second-graders excited about compound words — so excited they squirm in their seats and raise their hands higher, then higher — just cast their principal as a game show host and give them a 10-minute countdown.
That happened Tuesday in Rebecca Gleason's second-grade class at Bottenfield Elementary, as students tried out an educational game called EducationCity.
The entire school will have access to the game, and another called Study Island, thanks to a wish by Bottenfield second-grader Justin Li, granted by the Make-A-Wish Foundation.
Li is new to Bottenfield and wanted to give the game to his classmates in order to get to know them better, according to the foundation. He was diagnosed with Burkitt's Lymphoma, a cancer that starts in the immune cells, in late 2011. He's undergone treatment and is doing well, according to the foundation.
In his classroom Tuesday afternoon, Li's parents, volunteers from the foundation and a representative from the company that makes EducationCity were all on hand as the second-graders tried it out.
Together, they directed Principal Bill Pritchard which words to combine on the classroom's SMART Board and to do so faster, because they only had 10 minutes.
Then, after enjoying some refreshments, they paired off to use the game on the school's iPads.
"It's so fun," said second-grader Sydney Ochs. "I really want to (play) it again sometime, at my house."
Because of Li's wish, she and other Bottenfield students will be able to play the game, even when they're not at school.
The game aligns with the new state education standards, known as the Common Core, Pritchard said, and allows them to play each other online, and keep track of their own progress. Teachers can also monitor their students' progress, and adjust their daily lessons accordingly.
"It's another data piece to guide that instruction," Pritchard said.
Make-A-Wish volunteer Deb Shilts said it took Li awhile to decide on a wish, but he likes computers and wanted to do something for his schoolmates.
"He wants everyone to be happy," she said. "Getting something for his school is the perfect thing."