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Talking Stories at Education week – 28 to 30 September 2010

PRESS RELEASE:  For immediate publication                             20 August 2010

Talking Stories: combining tech and fun to teach reading
                                              Technology in action at Education Week

Stories are still the most effective way to teach children to read and, at the same time, encourage them to become more hands-on with technology.  The Talking Stories interactive programmes, already used in many schools around the country, have shown improvements of up to 71% in reading scores of Grade 1 learners over a period of two school terms. 

Computer voice in four languages
Children reading a Talking Story can touch the text and pictures on a computer screen, which activates a voice in English, isiXhosa, Afrikaans or isiZulu.  The developer of the Talking Stories software, Kathy McCabe, says every story comes with three interactive, fun reading activities.  “Many have animated rewards for correct answers.  Printable worksheets provide follow-up tasks.  There are 64 graded stories across a variety of genres, providing for the different reading levels of individual learners.”

  Computerised Talking Stories promote reading acquisition
Touch me!  Talking Stories in action.

The Macmillan Teacher Campus provides the back-up, reading books and wall charts to support the Talking Stories software at the schools.  The software runs equally well on networks and individual workstations, laptops and interactive whiteboards; both in Windows and open-source environments.                            
The proof is in the stories!
Talking Stories are a huge hit with learners and teachers alike, and what’s more, statistics prove that it works.  Says Kathy McCabe:  “We hear a great deal of anecdotal evidence about improved reading levels, and we see huge jumps in the systemic test results of Grade 3 and Grade 6 learners at individual schools.  One broad-based survey of 2000 Grade 1 learners in 26 schools, showed that over two school terms the learners exposed to the Talking Stories software improved their reading scores by 71% MORE than the control group!”

Taking Talking Stories home on your cell phone
Macmillan Talking Stories hope to partner with a cell phone operator to make this innovative technology and learning available on cell phones.  Says Kathy McCabe:  “Cell phone penetration in South Africa is almost 100%.  People may not have books or computers in the home, but even in remote rural areas, they own cell phones!  Why not use these powerful devices to promote a reading culture in the home?  Kids love to use cell phones and they love stories!  Our software is browser-based and simple in design.  Very little would need to be done to make it cell-phone compatible.” 

Technology + education @ Education Week
Technology in education will be a strong focus at this year’s Education Week Convention and Learning Expo in Johannesburg, where the minister of Basic Education, Angie Motshekga, will open the country’s largest multisectoral education event, while the Deputy Minister of Science and Technology, Derek Hanekom, will share his vision of how technology can change the face of education.  Some 1 000 education professionals are expected to attend from 28-30 September 2010.

The opening session also features the Education Conversations panel discussion, during which high-level speakers will talk candidly about some of the critical issues facing our education system. Access to this session is free to anyone interested in the state of education. Panelists include:

  • Barbara Creecy, Gauteng MEC for Education
  • Juanita Kloppers-Lourens, Democratic Alliance Shadow Minister of Basic Education
  • Marius Fransman, Chairperson, Parliamentary Committee on Higher Education and Training
  • John Samuels, Special Advisor, 1GOAL Campaign
  • Michael Stevenson, Vice President of Global Education, Cisco

The conference programme is divided into three streams. In addition to the Education Technology Indaba, the programme also offers two additional sector-specific streams:  Basic Education and Higher Education and Training. These two streams will highlight recent policy and curriculum changes, look at overcoming specific challenges to the education system, and showcase some of the solutions and successes that have been achieved.

Technology in action
Talking Stories, interactive whiteboards and many other examples of technology in education will be exhibited at the Education Week Convention and Learning Expo in September.  Entry to the exhibition, which includes access to workshops geared specifically towards teachers, is free to all in the education sector.

Event website:  www.educationweek.co.za
Event dates and location:  28-30 September 2010 – Emperors Palace, Johannesburg

For more information, interviews and accreditation:
Communications manager:  Annemarie Roodbol
Tel:  +27 (0) 21 700 3558
Fax:  +27 (0) 21 700 3501
Mobile:  +27 (0) 82 562 7844
Email:  annemarie.roodbol@clarionevents.com