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New CD-ROM Offers Interactive Approach To Reading

Touch rugby, break-dancing, science fiction, and Jonah Lomu are some of the topics being offered to students on an educational CD-ROM titled The Game and other stories, produced for the Ministry of Education by educational publisher Learning Media. The CD-ROM aims to raise levels of literacy in reluctant readers aged 11 to 14 and has a particular emphasis on the interests of Màori and Pasifika boys.

“Working on the computer is very motivating for our students, and the interactive approach to reading lets individual students select the support they need to engage successfully with the text,” says Mary Wootton, formerly of Naenae Intermediate, who was part of the advisory group of teachers who worked on the project.

Sarah Jones, Project Manager at Learning Media, says this approach is supported by international research, which indicates that reluctant readers can respond positively to computer-assisted reading. “We’re also very pleased to feature the voices of New Zealand students in the recordings of the stories – the voices are lively and appealing to readers.”

According to Diane Crew, Curriculum Facilitator at the Ministry of Education, the CD-ROM puts students at the controls: “The medium enables individual students to select the support they need.” She says the CD-ROM will help raise literacy achievement for these students and addresses a currently under-resourced area of instructional literacy materials for students in this age group. The CD-ROM is designed to be included in established classroom literacy programmes, working alongside existing print resources.

The CD-ROM is being launched at Mana College on 19 March at 4:30 p.m. Students and teachers from the College were involved in the development of the resource.

Learning Media has developed a number of award-winning electronic educational resources over the past five years. Chief Executive Neale Pitches says, “We are striving to provide effective electronic educational resources for our clients that are useful in the classroom and exciting for students.” The Game and other stories was developed in association with the Wellington-based web and multimedia team at Synergy International.

The eleven illustrated texts on the CD-ROM have been adapted from the School Journal and the School Journal Story Library series, with each text recorded using students’ voices. Text highlighting helps students to isolate sentences, and glossary definitions are provided for difficult words. The activities encourage students to respond to the texts. A teachers’ booklet includes advice on teaching approaches and notes on the texts.

All New Zealand schools with students in years 7–10 have received a copy of the CD-ROM. Schools can make multiple copies of the program for use in the school.

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