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App review by Sol Joye, Common Sense Education | Updated May 2013
Word Raider: Escape

Word Raider: Escape

Good enough vocabulary game runs risk of becoming rote

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Editorial review by Common Sense Education
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Grades
1–3 This grade range is based on learning appropriateness and doesn't take into account privacy. It's determined by Common Sense Education, not the product's publisher.
Subjects & Skills
English Language Arts

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Pros: Simple to use and set up, with straightforward and useful class management tools.

Cons: Actual gameplay is repetitive and basic, and emphasis on speaking means large classrooms can get noisy and distracting.

Bottom Line: It's a decent vocabulary game that ultimately relies on too many aging edu-game design tricks to grab students for long.

Word Raider will be most successful with small groups of younger students or ELL students in a quiet setting, or as individual work either at home or one-on-one with a student and teacher. It may be challenging to use Word Raider in a large class setting where many students will be speaking into microphones at one time. In addition, without close monitoring by a teacher, students will be tempted to exert minimal effort and simply click through the game. In a best-case scenario, each student's power log would be assessed by the teacher before the student advances. This, however, can be hard when the whole class is playing at once.

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Editor's Note: As of July 1, 2015, Word Raider: Escape is no longer available.

In Word Raider, players solve puzzles and navigate through levels set in a ruined temple reminiscent of the opening of Raiders of the Lost Ark. As players explore, they gain repeated exposure to frequently used academic words by listening to and reading vocabulary. They then use those words to complete a variety of matching activities. When activities are complete, students can store their work -- including the words and sentences they've typed, as well as their recorded speech -- into a "power up log." This log can later be evaluated by the teacher. Although power-ups lead to higher scores, students might be tempted to skip the log as the game progresses.

Since Word Raider focuses on Tier 2 Cognitive Academic Language Proficiency (CALP) vocabulary, it's most advantageous for younger learners and English Language Learners (ELL) who are struggling to learn basic academic language. Students learn and apply vocabulary through a series of levels, and continued use means struggling students get good reinforcement. However, play tends to get repetitive and risks disengagement. More frequest use of the power-up tool and more varied gameplay would encourage student investment.

Overall Rating

Engagement Would it motivate students and hold their interest? Is it visually appealing? Would it inspire teachers to try something new or change their instruction?

While initially engaging, Word Raider eventually feels one-dimensional and repetitious.

Pedagogy Does the tool help teachers promote a more student-centered experience? Will students gain conceptual understanding or think critically? Does it deepen teachers’ pedagogical thinking?

Time is divided between game activities -- simple side-scrolling jump-and-climb puzzles -- and learning activities, including a variety of assessment types ranging from multiple-choice questions to speaking prompts. 

Support Can students and teachers get assistance when they need it? Is it created with people of different abilities and backgrounds in mind? Is learning reinforced and extended beyond the digital experience?

A basic guide is available on the website, and basic help is available during play. A solid teacher dashboard helps with tracking and assessment.


Common Sense reviewer
Sol Joye Classroom teacher

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