Guidelines for choosing reading texts at step 4 and above for embedded literacy projects at NCEA Level 1

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These guidelines relate to my ideas on developing a generic template for embedded literacy project work to develop independent learning skills in more advanced literacy learners.

My rough ideas are here and I revised the structure here. Outlined below are guidelines for tutors or others who might be involved in selecting texts for this kind of embedded project work where the text needs to be at step 4 or above on the literacy progressions.

The reason for the step 4 requirement is that the texts have to be at step 4 if you want to use them as part of portfolio for assessment against the level 1 reading and writing unit standards.

This material is adapted from the Literacy Progressions for Adult Literacy and excludes the decoding progression.

Use the criteria below to determine if your selected text meets the criteria for step 4 or higher. The words in the text are likely to be at or above step 4 if you can answer yes to any following questions in three out of four progressions below.

For these progressions, can you identify…?


  • Academic words or words that are part of the language of teaching and instruction. For example, this could include words from the Academic Word List (AWL), words relating to Bloom’s taxonomy, and other language used in an academic context or for task instructions.
  • Specialised or technical words and terms. For example, this could include trades-related vocabulary, terminology relating to a specific and narrow area of study, or words that would fall outside of the 2600 words covered by the first two thousand high frequency word lists (1K and 2K word lists) plus the AWL.

Language and text

  • A wide variety of sentence structures and paragraph structures. For example, text should be longer, more complex and detailed, and include reports, explanations, web pages, fiction and non-fiction
  • Rhetorical patterns that add a degree of complexity. For example, patterns such as general to specific; making a claim to reasons justifying a claim; cause and effect; instructions.

For these progressions, will the reader need to…?

Comprehend by

  • Locating, organising and comparing information about a topic from several different sources. For example, sources could include newspaper reports, workplace or community documents (such as employment contracts or official letters), or electronic texts such as web pages or blogs, and text related to subjects the reader is studying.
  • Integrating prior knowledge to make connections or deepen their understanding. For example, this might mean the reader needs to apply what they already know to make sense of something or extend their knowledge.
  • Forming and testing hypotheses. For example, the reader may need to make predictions about the text which they check as they read to confirm or revise them against new information. Hypotheses may be based on any aspect of the text such as text structure, subject matter, size and shape of a book, or the context or task within which the reading is required.
  • Identifying the main ideas or most important information in a text. For example, the reader may need to use explicit knowledge in the text, their own prior knowledge, inferencing, or prediction to identify the key idea or most important information.
  • Using knowledge of text structures. For example, the reader may need to use what they know or are learning about a particular text structure to help them find their way through and comprehend a new text.
  • Summarising. For example, the reader may need to make a rapid summary of the text as they work through it.
  • Drawing inferences. For example, readers may need to read between the lines or make educated guesses to fill in gaps as they read, inferring information that the writer has not made explicit.
  • Creating mental images. For example, readers may need to visualise information or ideas to help them connect with their own background knowledge or see patterns that will lead them to a deeper understanding.
  • Asking questions of the text and search for answers. For example, questions may relate to the meanings of words or sentences, the structure of the text, plot or character development (in a story), or to other aspects of the text and content.
  • Evaluating ideas or information. For example, this may mean making judgements about the value of the information presented in the text to develop a deeper understanding of them.

Read critically

  • Analysing ideas and information in texts and reflect critically on surface and underlying meanings. For example, to do this they may need to compare, contrast, evaluate, ask questions, apply information to different scenarios, draw conclusions, and form “big picture” generalisations.
  • Evaluating a writer’s purpose. For example, this may include looking at their point of view, attitude, bias, agenda and the language features used by the writer to express or obscure these. Source texts could include advertising, political pamphlets, or other material that could be used to include, exclude or imply disapproval of certain groups or behaviours in society.

It’s still feeling a bit heavy… but I’ll get it whittled down. I have to do this kind of information dump first and then we can improve it. Any comments?

Author: Graeme Smith

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

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