Embedding literacy and numeracy: What’s your plan?

Here’a another one from the Literacy Numeracy Pro infinite content generation engine…

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It’s important to have a plan. If you are a trades trainer or vocational tutor you need to have a plan on how you’re going to deal with the literacy and numeracy needs of your learners.

Why? Well… because the same stuff that they struggled with at school is going to be the same stuff they struggle with in your training. You know… when their eyes glaze over when you start talking…

This means reading and mathematics.

The best way to get a plan is to get your head fully around your own context first of all. And that means more than just the industry context that you already know so well. I’m talking about your regional and national context… including reasons why your learners are the way they are. Why they can’t read or write as well as they should. Why they can’t do the math like you think that ought.

I mean… have you really thought about why your learners struggle with things like reading and mathematics?

Perhaps you have. I don’t know. What I do know is that you have a huge advantage over those in the school sector and over the so-called literacy and numeracy “experts”.

You might not see it this way. But the huge advantage that you have is as follows.


And to take advantage of your advantage you need to have a plan. And the best plans distill both context and content knowledge as you carry out these steps:

  1. Map the demands of your training: This simply means working out where the pain points are for the particular literacy and numeracy demands of your course, training, or work. Examples might include specialised or technical vocabulary. Or particular calculations or measurements specific to your trade.
  2. Administer diagnostic tests: Based on your mapping and using what you already know about your learners you need to design and administer some quick and dirty diagnostic tests. These short tests should have a go at working out what your learners do and don’t know about very specific areas of literacy and numeracy. Just pick micro skill area at a time and design a quick, appropriate assessment. Think of this as a pretest. Analyse the results.
  3. Embed the literacy and numeracy: Then you need to write and deliver some very specific and targeted teaching. This teaching (and learning) needs to be an attempt to deliberately and explicitly deal with the literacy or numeracy skill that you identified in your mapping and diagnostic testing. Think of this as a literacy (or numeracy) teaching intervention. I also call this an #MVP or Minimum Viable Pedagogy. It is, after all, the least you should be doing for your learners to help them engage with and comprehend your teaching and training.
  4. Assess your learners’ progress: After this you need to check to see whether your intervention made any difference. The simplest way to do this is to recycle your pretest. You might need to create a “Version B” of your pretest. But for our purposes you could probably just re-administer the pretest as a posttest without making an changes.

That’s it really…

Oh. One more thing. Now you’ve got data. You can compare the differences between your pre and post tests and workout whether it made any difference or not. If it did, you probably just did something that would make a useful change to your future programmes and training. If it didn’t then you just eliminated something that you might not want to repeat. This is called evaluation.

And then what…? Repeat. And then repeat again. And again. And again. Pretty much forever.

Author: Graeme Smith

Education, technology, design. Also making cool stuff...

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