What’s the big picture for embedding literacy and numeracy via the new NZCALNE (Voc)?

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What’s the big picture?

Here’s the big picture for embedding literacy and numeracy and an update on our work at ALEC.

This is the big picture for our revised embedding process and pipeline. And it’s the big picture for the new NZCALNE (Voc) training and qualification that we’re feverishly working on.

New content for Collections 1 to 4 are complete. We’ve also finished the Portfolio+ assessments for 5 to 7. We’re still working on the regular content for Collections 5 to 7.

What does that mean?

That means that you or your tutors should be working on the new version of this qualification now.

If you’re an experienced tutor, that means that we are now set up to work with you using a portfolio approach for the practical work. Get in touch if this is you – assess@alec.ac.nz

It also means that we’ll have this new content live on Pathways Awarua shortly. There’s a short video overview here on my blog in the meantime and all the new content is summarised here with links.

Also, stay tuned for new and revised content for Collections 5 to 7 covering diagnostic assessment, planning, facilitating, and assessing progress.

If you want to print out the new structure, just hit the link below for a PDF version:

Strategies: What are some examples of numeracy strategies?

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Here are some more examples of numeracy strategies developed by tutors for embedding numeracy into their programmes.

These are the kind of concise summaries that you’ll also need to write for your assessment.

Don’t forget, for assessment purposes for this course, you only need to write two – one for each of literacy and numeracy.

Below are some examples of numeracy strategies:

  • Teach my learners how to use number to solve problems with a focus on additive strategies and place value in the context of my Introduction to Farming course for highschool students.
  • Teach my learners how to measure with a focus on estimation and using a tape for metric measurement in my New Zealand Certificate in Building and Construction programme.
  • Teach my learners how to measure with a focus on calculating the area of rectangles from measurements of length in the module I’m planning this semester for the course I teach on Level 3 Horticulture and sustainable development.

Strategies: How to write your own strategy for embedding number skills into your programme

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Time to do some work

It’s your turn again. Design your own numeracy strategy by choosing from the options below. Download the worksheet to record your ideas. As always, you can skip ahead to the Assessment template and get started on this part right away.

For your assessment, you only need to focus on one numeracy strategy. We suggest that you use the tools below to create a broad numeracy strategy for your teaching programme for developing either number or measurement skills.

How to write your own strategy for number

  1. Choose one or two items from the box and then add your own context below.
  2. Write out a final draft summarising your strategy.
  3. If you need to, make any changes to ensure your strategy addresses the number skills you want to concentrate on.

I will: Teach my learners to use number to solve problems with a focus on…

how to use additive strategies

how to use multiplicative strategies

how to use proportional reasoning strategies

strengthening number sequence knowledge

strengthening place value knowledge

strengthening number facts knowledge

in the context of… (add your own programme here)

Here’s an example. I will:

  • Teach my learners to use number to solve problems with a focus on how to use multiplicative strategies and strengthening number fact knowledge in the context of the New Zealand Certificate in Employment Skills.

There are more examples coming shortly. But we’ll have a look at how to write a strategy for measurement strategy next.

And don’t forget: for your assessment task you only need to write one strategy for literacy and one strategy for numeracy.

The context for adult literacy and numeracy: Some things to think about before we move on…


From here you can move on to the second section. Next up we’re going to look at some of the approaches we use in adult teaching.

Before that, though, you should have a think about your answers to the questions below.

The questions aren’t assessed, so you don’t have to hand in your answers. But talking about what you think with someone, and then writing down your responses will help you engage with this work more deeply.


  • What do you think about the definitions that we’ve discussed?
  • Are there any aspects that you really like?
  • Is there anything here that you can use or absorb into your own teaching and training?


  • How familiar are you already with the Learning Progressions frameworks?
  • What value you can see in the Māori and Pasifika frameworks?
  • Do you think you’ll need to refer to the ESOL Starting Points framework?


  • What do you see as the major factors associated with low levels of adult literacy and numeracy?
  • What causes the biggest impact on your learners?
  • What do you think has the biggest impact on our country as a whole?

Good work…!

What’s causing the problem? Thinking deeper and taking notes

By now you should have had some time to think about what’s causing the problem of low adult literacy and numeracy? Or at least, you’ve had some time to think about the factors that we associate with low literacy and numeracy levels.

Here’s what we’ve covered:

  • The impact of colonisation
  • Socio-economic factors
  • Cycles of poverty
  • Poor teaching
  • Technology

Let’s make some notes. As with the other sections, you might want to skip back and check on any details. But we also want you to think about your own learners. What do you see as the main factors associated with low adult literacy and numeracy?

Time to do some work

Let’s pause for a few moments. Here’s your task:

  1. Download the worksheet, or use the chart below to make notes on the different
  2. factors we’ve talked about.
  3. Can you think of specific examples for each?
  4. What’s the impact of each on your learners?
  5. What’s the wider impact of these on our country as a whole?

This task is not assessed, but it will help you with your assessment.

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What’s the problem? Technology

The impact of technology and the accelerating technological change is one of the themes that often comes up in discussions about why we face literacy and numeracy problems in the 21st century.

The relentless march of technology and increasing technological complexity mean that the demands of work and life have changed significantly in recent years compared to previous generations.

Adult learners today face literacy and numeracy demands today that simply did not exist before. Or at least they did not exist in the same way due to the increasing integration of computers, mobile devices, and the internet in our daily lives and work.

This change is highly visible and means that we all need to develop new “literacies” including digital literacy in order to keep learning and address gaps that could emerge between the “technologically” rich and poor.

Your learners are likely to be at a disadvantage if they can’t access online resources and services for work or daily life.

Some questions to think about

Let’s pause for a few moments. The questions below are not assessed, but thinking about your answers to them will help you with the assessment task.

  1. What impact has technology had on your trade or industry?
  2. What about the impact on how you teach or assess?
  3. What can you do to help encourage digital literacy?

What’s the problem? Poor teaching


Poor teaching is another factor that we often associate with low levels of adult literacy and numeracy. This applies to teaching in schools as well as in the tertiary sector with adults.

Poor teaching reinforces adult learners’ negative beliefs about literacy and numeracy. For example, if an adult student thinks that she “can’t do maths”, this is reinforced when a tutor fails to notice her needs or skips over an important explanation of what happens in a calculation.

These beliefs are hard enough to change without making things worse for learners.

Also, beware…! What looks like great classroom behaviour doesn’t always mean that there’s been great teaching. Just because students have their heads down doesn’t always mean that they understand what you’ve taught them.

On the flip side, a chaotic noisy classroom doesn’t always mean students are distracted and not engaged.

In the tertiary sector, many trades and vocational tutors are recruited from industry. This is as it should be.

But it also means that while these tutors have the right kinds of trades skills and qualifications, they often need professional development opportunities to develop their teaching skills. This includes embedding literacy and numeracy into their teaching.

Whether this is well supported or note depends on the organisation. Some funded training now requires that trades and vocational tutors hold specific qualifications.

An example of this would be SAC funded training at levels 1 and 2 in Aotearoa New Zealand as well as Workplace Literacy Training.

This training which is funded by the Tertiary Education Commission requires that tutors have the New Zealand Certificate in Adult Literacy and Numeracy Education (Vocational). That’s this course…!

Some questions to think about

Time for a cup of coffee and some more things to think about. The questions below are not assessed, but thinking about your answers to them will help you with the assessment task.

  1. If you’re doing this qualification, you’re already part of the solution. But what about your organisation… are they supportive of professional development opportunities?
  2. What about your colleagues? Are they ready to make changes to the way they teach?
  3. What about your learners? How do you really know whether they understand or not?