Page 10 - Ziptales Program Manual - AU
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Digital Technology in Today’s Classroom

     Today’s children, as we all know, are ‘digital natives’. They grew up being able to almost spontaneously
     handle an iPad or smart phone. They are completely familiar with computers and various ‘devices’.
     But is all this good for them?

     The Research

     Does online learning improve children’s skill levels? The research tells us that it does. One literacy expert puts it
     this way: “readers are more engaged with online texts because they promote a more active orientation to reading
     … [and] make reading a more creative and playful activity.” (Donald Leu, The New Literacies, International
     Reading Association)

     British research has shown that computer-mediated learning produces “positive motivational impacts” across
     a wide range of ability levels - ‘learning support’ children being just as likely to benefit as more able students.
     It is correlated to “a decline in performance avoidance” and has “a positive effect … for boys, with no lowering
     of outcomes for girls”. (The Motivational Effect of ICT on Pupils, Department for Education, UK) One American
     case study showed a boy whose print reading abilities were statistically “below average”, but who excelled at
     online reading, because it was a more comfortable environment for him. (Maureen O’Neil, What is New about
     the New Literacies? National Council of Teachers of English)

     What Educational Principles govern the Ziptales Program?

     Ziptales draws on the latest research about what works for the effective delivery of literacy outcomes to all
     students. The key principles are these:

     (1)	 “Learners should have opportunities to work with whole meaningful texts. Content that offers
     	 learners a chance to process large chunks of related text, rather than bits of unrelated language
     	 fragments … extends reading comprehension.”* (Ziptales is effectively a ‘whole language’
     	 resource, focussing on the enjoyment of familiar literary genres, though Easy Readers adds
     	 the explicit teaching of phonics for beginning readers)
     (2)	 “Learners should have opportunities to encounter a wide variety of text types … a range of narrative
     	 and expository structures should be provided.”* (Ziptales offers well over 36 genre types for all
     	 primary levels)
     (3)	 “Learners should have the opportunity to work with [texts] that use content and language that are
     	 within the range of children’s conceptual development. Tasks should be challenging but not
     	 frustrating.”* (Ziptales offers ten bands of reading levels, aligned to all levels of the primary
     	 school, and maps these to three major internationally recognised readability measures)
     (4)	 “Learners should have opportunities to monitor their own learning. Tasks that offer students the
     	 chance to self-correct and amend their own errors support the development of independent
     	learners.”* (Ziptales offers immediate interactive feedback on comprehension, with the
     	 chance to reread and master a text in the child’s own time)
     (* All quotes from Department of Education and Skills)

     In short, digital online content should be exactly like traditional print-mediated reading - rich, properly
     contextualised, and integrated into the classroom reading program.

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