BEFORE: How do I create a contextualised numeracy diagnostic for my ESOL Workplace Literacy programme


How do I design numeracy diagnostic assessments for ESOL learners?

Here’s the last scenario. This one’s a little different to the others:

  • You’re an ESOL tutor. You teach refugees and migrants as part of a TEC funded workplace literacy programme. Your learners are very low level. Some of them are pre-literate. This means that they are at (or below) step 1 on the Learning Progressions.

1. Consider what else you now know about your programme and your learners

Some of your learners work and others are looking for employment. You know that they struggle with even very basic communication. You’d like to introduce a numeracy focus to your programme, but when you tried to map the numeracy demands very little seemed directly relevant.

You know that your learners need to be able to communicate about location and directions. You decide to investigate this aspect further as you know it’s part of the Measure and Interpret Shape and Space Strand for numeracy.

2. Revisit your learning outcome for numeracy

You’ve been playing around with this learning outcome:

  • Use everyday language to describe the location of objects in the context of a workplace.

This will work for your pre-literate learners who are at step 1 or below. But you also know that some of your learners need to be extended further. So you come up with a second learning outcome for them:

  • Follow instructions for a street route in the context of driving to local shops or suppliers.

This one will work with your step 2 learners and you can easily extend it further if you need to.

3. Unpack the calculation or task

You know you need to take some care with how you put together the diagnostic questions. Too many words are going to cause a distraction. Also, a written task might not be the most appropriate.

You ask yourself the following question:

  • What do I need to know and do in order to do each of these?

For the first learning outcome, you come up with this:

  • Match prepositions with the location they describe on a drawing or photograph

Your idea is to make a poster from a workplace drawing or photograph. Learners will need to write the prepositions (e.g. under, above, on top of) onto post-it notes and place them to show the location.

For your second learning outcome, you come up with this:

  • Draw the street route described in a set of instructions you give them

4. Develop some diagnostic questions based on what you’ve unpacked

Numeracy diagnostic for Location (Step 1)

For your first learning outcome, you find a photograph of part of the factory where some of your learners work. You use this as a poster.

Then you make a list of all the prepositions you need: under, above, on top of, below, beside, to the left of, to the right of, nearby, in front of

Rather than worksheet with questions, learners have to copy the words onto post-it notes and stick these to an appropriate place on the poster. When they’re done, they need to explain this to you.

If they can use most or all of the words correctly to describe objects represented in the drawing or photograph then you know they’re at step 1.

Numeracy diagnostic for Location (Step 2)

For your second learning outcome, you write a set of directions. For example, “Turn right out of the gate, take the next left, and then take the third street on your right. Go straight for 300 metres until you are past the river.

You give this to each learner together with a simple map. Their task is to draw the street route described.

If they can do it, you know that they’re at step 2 and you need to extend them to step 3.

Author: Graeme Smith

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

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