How’s it going…? This is part two of your special care package for the NCALNE and assessment 1. It contains additional supporting material that you can dip into as you need to in relation to the first assessment task on the New Zealand Context for Literacy and Numeracy.
The first part is here in case you missed it. What we’ve outlined below relates more specifically to how you might go about writing up your report. If you’re a good writer, or you’re already well underway with your report writing then feel free to ignore this content.
Preparing to write the 1500 word report
Right-oh then…! You’ve signed up for this NCALNE (Voc) training (or perhaps someone has signed you up) and now you have to write a 1500 word report. We’d better just get on with it…
The thing that you need to do first is get ready to do the writing. Do these things in the list below:
- Find and read the two checklists that relate to Assessment 1. These are printed in your Assessment Guide or available for download from Pathways Awarua in Assessment Module 1. The first of these checklists relates to the content of your report. The second relates to the structure. The content checklist tells you what you need to cover (e.g. definitions for literacy and numeracy). The structure checklist tells you what features your report should include (e.g. an introduction, body, and summary). Knowing these key points will help you when you do your reading, planning, and composing.
- Review the content in Module 1. You can do this by going back through the material in Module 1 in Pathways Awarua, or you can skim Section 1 of the Study Guide if you have a printed copy.
- Read in more detail. Go back and read the sections below in more detail. As you read you’ll see web links or references to further material. Check these out for extra bonus points. And yes we can tell if you’ve done extra reading…
- Reasons and impact
- Resources and organisations
- Take notes as you read. If you’re working with the printed Study Guide then underline, or use a highlighter as you read.
Brainstorming and planning your report
Ok, by now you should have done your reading and familiarised yourself with both the content and structure of the report. Here’s what you need to do next:
- Have a look at the Assessment 1 report template. If you’re in Pathways Awarua this is the Assessment Module that sits below the orange ribbon. If you have the printed Assessment Guide it’s after the checklists in section 1. If you received the last coaching email you should have it as an attachment. If you don’t have it we can email it to you. Just drop us a line: firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also just create your own template as long as you follow the structure we’ve outlined.
- Start organising your thoughts and notes. We think that the best way to do this is by using mind maps. If you are not familiar with mind maps you should have a look here at some examples. You will need to organise your thinking around the following parts of the report:
- Definitions: What are the similarities and differences between the established definitions for literacy and numeracy? Remember: You don’t have to create your own definitions. Just work with the ones that are there.
- Initiatives: What literacy and numeracy initiatives relate to your work or learners?
- Reasons and impact: Why do your learners have low literacy and numeracy levels? What does this mean for them? What is the impact on your industry?
- Resources and organisations: What literacy and numeracy resources do you already have access to? What organisations can you access that provide literacy and numeracy expertise?
- Recommendations: What do you suggest? What’s going to make a difference for you or yourr learners? For your organisation?
- Start with an initial brainstorm for each of these key aspects of the report … a kind of brain dump, if you like. Then, start to categorise and organise what you have brainstormed or mindmapped… Use colours, codes, or a key if that helps you. Then do a second brainstorm with the major categories as the new main branches of your new mind map. This reorganisation of your ideas is critical to writing a coherent report that flows well. As you categorise or reorganise your ideas, you should redraw your mindmaps or redraft your lists of key points and subpoints to reflect how you are organising your thoughts.
- Put your ideas in order. Once you have got your thoughts and ideas categorised and organised you should put them in order. We’ve already given you a structure for the report… so use it. Start ordering your sub-points. Look for logical structures like “general to specific” or “most important to least important”. You may feel at times that some of this feels a bit arbitrary. It might be… but what you are doing is trying to bring logic and coherence to your scrambled thoughts. It’s obvious who has done this when we read these reports. What matters is that your final report as a good flow.
- Write all this up in an outline. Keep in mind the report template… this is really your master outline. But you can outline your key sections, subheadings and information for your paragraphs. Your outline will become your roadmap for writing the report.
Composing your report
Now that you have done your reading and some in-depth planning, it’s time to write your report. If you have done the reading and planning work previously this won’t be too difficult as you’ve got your roadmap (the outline) to work from.
If you are struggling here, you will need to go back to the previous sections and see what you’ve missed. If you are ready to go:
- Revisit the report template. This is your master outline and writing frame. You should be clear by now about what you are going to write in each of the sections, and what the structure of the report looks like.
- Check out the model report. There’s a model report available from us if you want. This is to give you an idea of what we’re expecting. Email us if you don’t have it already.
- Divide your writing time into bursts. Focus on “just writing” to start with and don’t worry about editing. Seriously… put all that stuff about sentence structure and spelling out of your head. We’ll deal with that in the last section.
- Definitions: This is basically a regurgitation of the same definitions provided in Module 1 and the Study Guide. Start by just typing these in. Make sure you reference them. Also, you do need to provide some commentary around what you see as the major similarities and differences between the four definitions provided. The best way to do this is to focus on the differences between the three TEC definitions versus the Māori literacy definition.
- Initiatives: We think that it makes sense to start this section by summarising some key data from the ALLS survey to give a sense of the bigger picture for the country. This is one good way of setting the scene. ALLS is also a major literacy and numeracy initiative. You should then follow this up with a couple of initiatives that relate to you and the work you do. You can always add this course of study as one of the initiatives if you are short on ideas.
- Reasons and impact: Pick several key reasons and several key impacts from your planning and write these up. It’s always better for us if you connect these with your own learners or work context. Write from your experience here.
- Resources and organisations: If you can’t think of any resources or you don’t know of any… read up on the Learning Progressions and summarise. Also, feel free to write up ALEC as an organisation here. Otherwise, just write up one resource you know about and one organisation that fits the bill.
- Recommendations: Sure you’ve just started this course of study, but you probably already have some strong ideas about what you and your organisation could (or should) be doing. Write from your perspective as a tutor.
Revising and editing your report
Ok… at this point, what you probably have is a draft. From here you need to revise and edit this draft. Basically, you want to polish up your report so it looks good and reads well. Here are some practical things that you can do:
- Go back to the content and structure checklists we mentioned earlier. If you can tick everything then it’s probably all good…!
- Read your report out loud to yourself. This will feel weird if you’ve done this before, but if you find that some sentences are difficult to read, then this is probably an indication that you need to revise them. Put a circle around them and read on. You can come back to them later.
- Ask someone else to read your report and give you some feedback. This could be a colleague or family member. As an interested non-expert, they’ll quickly tell you what makes sense and what doesn’t. Feedback here can be in relation to content or structure. It’s easier for another person to spot a missing apostrophe or misused comma than it is for you.
- Other guidelines:
- Identify the main point, purpose, or idea of a sentence or paragraph. Move it to the beginning if it’s not already there.
- Root out passive voice. Passive voice is easy to identify. Look for one of the forms of BE plus the VERB ending in -en or –ed E.g. am, is, are, was, were, be, being, been plus the -en or -ed word. E.g. is requested, were eaten. Change these sentences to active voice. It’s fine to use “I”, “we”, “he”, “she”, or “they”.
- Find long or unnecessary words or jargon. Change to simple words of three syllables or less.
- Avoid long sentences. Cut long sentences into shorter sentences of less than 15 words.
- Avoid long paragraphs. Split up your long paragraphs. They should be less than 2 cm deep on the page or no more than roughly 5 sentences as a rule.
- Watch out for any distracting spelling, punctuation, or grammar. Ask someone, use a spell checker, find a dictionary, or look online for help.
Submit the final version
Just a hint: you’ll probably never feel 100% happy with your writing. But if you’ve done everything required in terms of content and structure, stop fussing, just check the word count one last time, and either hit submit if you’re in Pathways Awarua at the end of the Assessment 1 template. Or just email the final version to us here: email@example.com