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LEARNZ as a reading resource

LEARNZ virtual field trips provide a unique experience for students and teachers in New Zealand schools and an essential part of every LEARNZ field trip is written text, along with other resource material such as photos, videos, audios and web conferences.

A LEARNZ web page is constructed to scaffold reading for students. The following example demonstrates one way that teachers can use the special features of a LEARNZ Background page to help support student reading.

Either Watch the video

LEARNZ and a suggested reading scaffold from LEARNZ on Vimeo.

Or Try it yourself

Have a look at the web page Water Use from the LEARNZ virtual field trip People and Water - looking at our water networks.

After looking over the list of Features, below, we suggest you take a second look at Water Use as if you were a student to become more familiar with these features. Follow the steps in the Suggested Reading Scaffold section, below, to see how you can further support literacy development by using LEARNZ. (Hint: Display this web page side-by-side with the above web page ).


  1. Listen. Clicking the play arrow icon link at the top of the page plays a recording of the content being read by one of our LEARNZ teachers. Unlike with automated options, New Zealand students will appreciate the familiarity of the accent and how the reading flows smoothly over technical words and common Māori words.
  2. Enlarge photos. Clicking any photo on the right displays an enlargement and caption. By hovering the mouse over the left or right side of each photo, students can navigate forward or back through the enlargements.
  3. Māori keywords. Further down the page there is a Language keyword table with Māori keywords that have sound files attached so all New Zealanders can hear them pronounced.
  4. Print. Notice the little printer icon in the upper-right of the page. Clicking it gives a preview where all the content is displayed in a different layout, appropriate for print.
  5. Forward and Back. Also in the upper-right are Previous and Next links to enable students to go through the learning sequence of pages that build knowledge and understanding of this inquiry.
  6. Two reading levels. The Easy link takes students to an easier-reading version of the page where there is more white space and simpler sentence structure and vocabulary. Typically the difference in reading age is 2 years.
  7. Relevance. The text meets the need for current, authentic, local content embedded in a larger story. The People and Water  field trip was based in Wellington, with relevance to all New Zealanders.

A Suggested Reading Scaffold

  1. Emerging readers, click on the play arrow at the top to have the page read aloud from a recording by the LEARNZ field trip teacher.
  2. All students read the page heading.
  3. Read the summary in the top orange box.
  4. Enlarge the first image, then click through the rest of the enlargements.
  5. Click through the enlargements a second time and read the captions
  6. Read the main text of the page.
  7. All students, open the Māori keywords and click to hear them read aloud from a recording by the LEARNZ field trip teacher.
  8. Read the text in the bottom orange box of the page, which is a prompt to think more or explore further. Optionally respond (write someting, draw or sketch something or record a sound file or video and share it with your class or teacher).
  9. On the page’s left-hand menu, under Prepare Students, click Activities and attempt the interactive activity called Water Use, which tests comprehension of the page.
  10. Click Next or Previous to navigate through the suggested learning sequence of Background pages whereby students gain knowledge related to the field trip topics.
  11. Click Standard to go to a higher-level version of the page where the reading age is two years higher.

LEARNZ and a suggested reading scaffold

This example is from LEARNZ People and Water at http://www.learnz.org.nz/water172. This award-winning field trip web site looks at sustainability by following the journey of water as freshwater, wastewater and stormwater. Feel free to explore the rest of the site and use it in your teaching and learning programme. 

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