Ziptales

What is Ziptales?


About Ziptales
Who are we?

Learn to love reading

Ziptales is an online literacy “library” designed for school, library, and home use. Ziptales has been a leader in the field of online literacy for more than 15 years.

It is based on the latest research about how children develop and sustain a love of reading. The Ziptales “library” was built by trained teachers with the express purpose of making reading a pleasurable and lifelong experience.

The Research

At the core of the Ziptales mission is the recognition that children will do best when they read for “for pleasure, to be informed and to perform a task” (Beverly Tyner, The Literacy Jigsaw Puzzle, IRA 2012).

For example, a child who reads a scary story, or a mystery ‘whodunnit’, will instinctively engage with the reading. Reading the story (for pleasure) will raise their skill level without them even being aware of the process.

The Voiceover

All appropriate text has a voiceover – read by a professional actor. This is a great way not only of modelling good reading, but of sustaining interest in the text.

Testing and feedback

Each story ends with a fill the gaps test (a relatively easy quiz) and a multiple choice (more challenging).

If the child does not score more than 5/10, they are prompted to “Have another go”. They can reread the text, and get 10/10 – in short, they can find their own way to “master” the text. This is after all how reading normally works. Even adults reread selectively to extract the most out of the experience.

The Role of the Teacher

Ziptales puts the teacher (or parent) at the centre of all decision making about the individual child’s needs. Only they really know which stories, or poems, or lessons, are appropriate to their class or child. No automated reading program can possibly know this.

Ziptales encourages teachers and parents to see it as a vast “library” of possible reading experiences, out of which they can pick the material which best suits their children.

We also recommend teachers use the "What's my Ziptales reading level?"" test to fine tune their recommendations for a child's reading list (go to the Staffroom and look at Reading Levels, which explains what to do).

The Key Personnel:

Richard McRoberts (Director) has a BA (English) from Monash University (Melbourne) and a Masters in Education (Literacy and Literature) from Melbourne University. He was a teacher for 23 years. He is a published author, with more than 100 titles to his credit. In addition to being the publisher at Wizard Books, he was the English publisher at Cambridge University Press for some years, producing some 50 books. Ziptales, set up in 2002, was his concept.
Valerie McRoberts (Director) has a BA (English, Honours) from Monash University (Melbourne) and a Masters in Education (Gifted Education) from Melbourne University. She was a teacher for 20 years, both in state and private education. She joined Wizard Books in the late 1990s. She is the author of a number of educational titles. After the acquisition of Wizard, she became a commissioning editor at Curriculum Corporation. She is the curriculum director at Ziptales.
Nicholas McRoberts (Technical Director) is in charge of the overall architecture of Ziptales, and oversees the international servers which host the various sites (Australia and New Zealand, UK, Ireland, South Africa, and the US).
Chris Antony (IT Manager and Lead Programmer) has a B.Sc. (Information Technology, Computer Games) from Federation University. He has over 5 years experience in interactive instructional design, website development and IT project management. He is in charge of all coding and website maintenance, and leads the development team.

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