TEACH: What about resources for embedding literacy and numeracy?

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Depending on what kind of literacy and numeracy activities you are planning, you may need to find, create or adapt some resources. This might include any of the following:

  • Worksheets
  • Handouts
  • Posters or visuals
  • Sets of cards, for example with vocabulary or pictures
  • Games

Another kind of resource includes things that people need to use so they can learn or think while they’re using whatever it is. In maths education, these kinds of resources are called “manipulatives”. These are things that you might need to use or play with while you’re learning or practising concepts.

In maths education, these kinds of resources are called “manipulatives”. These are things that you might need to use or play with while you’re learning or practising something.

For example:

  • Cutting lengths of string for developing an understanding of estimation and measurement.
  • Putting together squares for developing an understanding of area.
  • Stacking up cubes for developing an understanding of volume.
  • Ripping up strips of paper for developing an understanding of fractions.

One of the main things to remember is that whatever your resources are, they need to flow out of your learning outcomes. And these, of course, need to flow out of all of the thinking that sits behind your learning outcomes. This includes knowing the demands of your training and the needs of your learners.

One of the mistakes some tutors make is that someone gives them a resource for literacy and numeracy, but it doesn’t actually flow out of their understanding of what’s needed for their learners and their teaching. They use the resource without thinking about how it really fits with their learners or programme. And this leads to a fragmented approach to embedding literacy and numeracy where it’s “bolted on” rather than “built in”.

We’re going to point you to some examples of different kinds of resources you might want to use or adapt. But first, we need to give you an example of how these get used poorly.

Here’s a common professional development scenario…

You attend a professional development workshop with an expert on literacy or numeracy. It’s fun and exciting. But what you want is activities and resources you can use right now. So the workshop presenter gives you resources and activities which you take back and try to use. Some of them work and some of the don’t. Life carries on as usual.

That’s not what we want here. We want you to see permanent changes to your teaching practice. For this to happen, your own understanding and beliefs need to change.

Any professional development you do now related to literacy and numeracy needs to inform what you already do and know – your growing expertise.

And it needs to fit within the larger framework that we’ve been working with for embedding. This includes the broad content areas for embedding literacy and numeracy that we’ve been discussing.

For example:

  1. CONTEXT: You know what literacy and numeracy are. You should have a good idea now of what kinds of skills and knowledge are already embedded into the content and context that you teach. For any given activity or resource, you should be able to work out if it fits you and your learners.
  2. APPROACHES: You know what teaching approaches and concepts are going to contribute to making this work with your learners. If someone gives you a resource to use, you should trust your judgement as to whether it’s going to feel like it’s “built in” or “bolted on”.
  3. DEMANDS: You have in-depth knowledge of what the literacy and numeracy demands are for your training. If someone gives you a resource to use, even if it seems really interesting, you don’t need to use it if it doesn’t help you target key demands that you’ve already identified.
  4. STRATEGIES: You’ve spent time thinking about what your overall strategies are for embedding literacy and numeracy into your programme. You can use this knowledge to make judgement calls about resources and activities. If they don’t line up with your vision and strategies for embedding, then they don’t fit. Just park them and come back to them later.
  5. BEFORE: You’ve experimented with different kinds of diagnostic assessments. And you’ve mapped your learners. This means that as well as knowing what key demands are for your programme, you know broad and specific needs that your learners have. Let this guide your decisions about which resources are useful. You’re the expert now.

With those thoughts to guide you, we do want to look at some resources. Feel free to adapt them however you like. Or use them as inspiration for your own ideas.

Some of these resources come from graduates of this course. Others come from the Learning Progressions.


Author: Graeme Smith

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

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