BrainWare Safari Frequently Asked Questions for Teachers

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1 BrainWare Safari Frequently Asked Questions for Teachers What is BrainWare Safari? BrainWare Safari is an online software program that has the feel of a computer game with a serious purpose: to develop the cognitive skills that enable children to become the best learners they can be. BrainWare Safari is interactive and engaging and features characters, graphics and sound effects children enjoy in popular video games. BrainWare Safari is not a traditional software curriculum intended to directly develop competency in reading, math or science knowledge, but rather a mental fitness program. The cognitive skills it helps develop form the basis of children s abilities to learn all subjects, including reading, math, and science, etc. Well-developed cognitive skills are critical to learning. What are examples of cognitive skills? The cognitive skills in BrainWare Safari fall into six main categories: Attention, Memory, Visual Processing, Auditory Processing, Sensory Integration and Thinking. These skills enable us to take in, process, understand and apply information in the world around us whether in school, driving a car, following a recipe or preparing our taxes. Every individual has some cognitive skills that are strong and some that are weak. BrainWare Safari is designed to strengthen weak skills and enhance those that are already strong. A list of the cognitive skills developed in BrainWare Safari and definitions of those skills are provided with the BrainWare Safari Teacher Resource Guide. How will BrainWare Safari help my students? Strengthening cognitive skills makes a child s learning system more agile, that is, more efficient and effective. The child is better able to acquire knowledge at a faster pace and with less apparent effort. As learning performance improves, so does a child s self-confidence and selfesteem. A confident student often demonstrates higher motivation, effort, aspirations and expectations for academic success. Many teachers and parents observe improvements in their students memory, attention, thinking, recall of information on tests, ability to grasp new concepts, visualization, following directions, and their ability to get schoolwork done. Decreased careless errors and distractibility are also frequent benefits.

2 Who should use BrainWare Safari? Every child can benefit. BrainWare Safari has been shown to help children whether they are performing below, at or above grade level, and proved to improve mental performance in children with known learning impairments. In fact, everyone can benefit from mental fitness activities, whether they are 6 or 90. BrainWare Safari is recommended for children ages 6 to 12, but others may use and benefit from the program. The graphics were designed to appeal to elementary-age children. What technology is required? A PC needs Windows 98 or higher, such as Windows 2000 or Windows XP and the equivalent of a Pentium III or higher, and a speed of 600 MHz or faster. (Most computers equipped with the first two criteria also have the necessary processing speed.) A MAC must have the OSX operation system and a processing speed of at least 600 MHz. An Internet connection and computer speakers are also needed. Headphones may be helpful. How is BrainWare Safari meant to be implemented in a school? We recommend that students use BrainWare Safari 30 to 60 minutes three to five times a week for 8 to 12 weeks. This can be accomplished in a number of different ways: In the classroom, during the day. The entire class or smaller groups can work on the program during the day depending on the number of computers available. In a computer lab. If students go to a computer lab at certain times during the week, BrainWare Safari can be used during computer lab time. In an after school program. What is the teacher s role? The teacher s role is to act as a coach for students, making sure the students get logged in and work in the program, and making sure that they are working in different areas of the program, especially those they find most challenging. When students get to more advanced levels of the program, they may experience some frustration. At that point, it is important to encourage them, remind them of previous levels they have found difficult and later passed, and suggest that they move to a different area of the program to give their brains a break. The teacher may also ask the students to journal their experiences and reflect on how their ability to learn is evolving, and the kinds of activities BrainWare Safari s exercises are helping them with. How does BrainWare Safari work? Students log onto the program with their usernames and passwords. Students can start wherever they like in the program. As they pass levels, they earn gold bars and their Safari Friend grows. Every student starts at Level 1 in each exercise and then moves to more challenging levels as they become proficient with the cognitive skills addressed by the exercise. This removes any need for the teacher to determine which level to assign students, while the program becomes individualized as the students make their own choices. Correct and incorrect answers receive immediate feedback.

3 Why are some of the exercises so easy while others are really hard? Each exercise addresses different cognitive skills. Since each individual has diverse cognitive skills strengths and weaknesses, exercises that seem difficult to one person may seem easy to another and vice versa. The more difficult a player finds a given exercise, the greater the likelihood that individual is weak in that particular cognitive skill, and the more benefit he or she is likely to derive from working in that skill area. Some of my students are having trouble hearing and understanding the numbers and letters in Sky Scanning. What should we do? There are a couple of things you can try. 1. Change the voice gender. To do this, go to the Jungle Resort and click on Safari Settings. Some people find it easier to understand a different voice at a different pitch. 2. Use headphones. With headphones, you may be able to turn down the volume so your students can hear things more clearly. Some students are having trouble "clicking to the beat." What should we do? Try one or more of the following: Think of clicking to the beat as tapping your foot to music or clapping your hands to the beat -- you're just using you left mouse button instead. Listen to several beats before you start to click. Spend some time practicing this skill in Rhythm Ribbet. Try tapping your foot as you click or have a "coach" tap your shoulder to the beat. It's hard for students to remember the information in some of the exercises. Is it ok to have them write the information down? Actually, it s important NOT to write the information down that would defeat the purpose of the exercise, for example developing the "mind's eye." Even saying the information out loud can detract from the development of memory skills. The instructions for each of the exercises indicate the appropriate way to use them. In the Turtle Recall exercise, it says to wait for 12 hours to return to the exercise after memorizing the symbols. Why is it necessary to wait for 12 hours? Students can t return exactly 12 hours later. The main objective of this exercise is to develop long-term memory skills. The only way to know if retention has occurred is to see if the player can accurately recall the information, after a period of time has passed. Research on retention shows that the greatest loss of newly acquired information occurs within 12 to 24 hours. You can return to Turtle Recall any time after 12 hours -- it doesn't have to be exactly 12 hours later.

4 Ancient Logic and Reasoning and Llama Logic seem to be different from the other exercises? What is the best way to use them? These exercises each have 21 levels of about the same level of difficulty. If you choose the wrong answer the first time, you get a second chance. If your second answer is wrong, you are shown the correct answer and move on to the next level (although your Safari friend does not come out to congratulate you, as he/she would if you had given a correct answer). The logic behind the design is that once you try a particular type of puzzle, and you are shown how to answer it, you may be able to use that problem-solving ability to get a similar puzzle right the next time. Sometimes players find that they can rapidly run through these logic puzzles to build up levels completed, without really thinking the puzzles through. And that, of course, defeats the whole purpose of the exercise. And just as important, completing those puzzles early in the game means that those exercises are not available when students get to the point where they re really being challenged in other exercises and you need a break from them. Encourage students to limit themselves to only five levels at a time. What if my students don t finish BrainWare Safari in the amount of time we have set aside to work on it? The benefit of BrainWare Safari is not necessarily in completing all of the exercises; instead it is the amount of time spent at the optimum intensity. The program is designed to deliver specific results in a short span of time compared to other tools. Most children will not complete all the exercises and levels in the program in weeks. If you wish, your students may continue to use the program beyond the initial timeframe, until they complete all the exercises. As long as the child is challenged, he/she will receive benefits from the program even if it is at a slower pace. Will I need to change my teaching approach after my students have used BrainWare Safari? You may find that your students grasp material much more quickly than before using the program and make different kinds of associations and connections. You may find that their thinking is more flexible and that they are more engaged in their own learning processes. Activities that encourage more independence, higher-level thinking, and more reflection on their own learning processes become appropriate.

5 Do you have proof that BrainWare Safari works? Yes, a controlled study was conducted with 34 students in first through seventh grade at the Christian Heritage Academy in Northfield, Illinois, from March to May, Half the students used BrainWare Safari at home and the other half followed their normal routines. Pre- and posttesting of both groups with the Woodcock-Johnson III Cognitive Battery and Tests of Achievement showed significant growth for the group using BrainWare Safari: An average improvement of 4 years and 2 months in cognitive skills for the study group, compared to 4 months for the control group. An average of 1 year and 11 months improvement in achievement tests (reading and math) for the study group compared to 1 month s improvement for the control group. In the spring semester 2006, 25 students in the Edgar Evans Academy, a boys academy in the Indianapolis Public Schools, used BrainWare Safari for 11 weeks. The program was incorporated into their classroom schedule as part of the school day. On average, these students tested 3 years behind their chronological age prior to using the program. They experienced 6 years of growth in their cognitive skills while using BrainWare Safari, as measure by the post-test. The Woodcock-Johnson III Cognitive Battery was also used in this study. More information on these and other studies is available in the BrainWare Safari Teacher Resource Guide.

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