Online Configurator for Embedded Learning Outcomes

This is an experiment and it’s far from perfect… But tell me what you think in the comments. I’ve designed an online configurator to help you write embedded learning outcomes.

There are two versions of it below. The first deals with the reading strand of the Learning Progressions. The second is much more specific and deals only with vocabulary, but still references the vocab progression in the reading strand..

I’ve added a couple of different contexts for embedding, but you’ll probably need to add your own specific context. If you tell me what you’re working on I’ll add it to the configurator.

I’ve also had to take a few liberties with the Progressions to make it work. If you like it please type your examples of completed learning outcomes into the comment box.

This is based on a survey app so when you click “Finish Survey”, it will disappear. Just reload your web page if you want to have another go.

Reading Learning Outcomes

Vocabulary Learning Outcomes










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

Screenshot 2017-04-13 11.33.03

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 –

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:

Teach better – What is embedded literacy and numeracy?


What’s the definition?

Embedded literacy and numeracy means

Combining the development of literacy and numeracy with vocational and other skills (p.5).

Where does this definition come from?

Tertiary Education Commission (2013). Adult Literacy and Numeracy: An Overview of the Evidence, Annotated Bibliography’. Wellington: TEC

What are some key features?

Literacy and numeracy skills

  • Are contextualised to the programme. In other words, it’s not literacy and numeracy for everything. It’s literacy and numeracy for farming. Or agriculture. Or employment skills. Or whatever it is that you teach.
  • Provide learners with competence, confidence and motivation to success in the vocational or other training programme.
  • Are embedded at the level of the learner, programme and organisation.

How is this definition relevant to my teaching context?

This is relevant because it gets to the heart of what this professional development is about. In other words, how to mix in the kinds of literacy and numeracy learning that your learners need to really succeed at your course.

It’s also relevant because this is what the TEC wants and funds you to do. It’s just business as usual. But don’t forget that the motivation behind this is a good one. The embedded approach is backed up with research that says it works better for you and your learners.

Contextualising and integrating literacy and numeracy means your teaching becomes more relevant, more helpful for your learners. You’ll teach better. Learners are complex bundles of motivations. Much of the time you can’t control all the variables. But the idea here is that you can start with what you can control. That’s your approach to teaching.

Learners are complex bundles of motivations. Much of the time you can’t control all the variables. But the idea here is that you can start with what you can control. That’s your approach to teaching.

Your approach is internal to you. And you have complete access to yourself. There might be limitations in terms of resources you have to use or coursework that you have to get through. But you can choose how to approach these things.

And that’s powerful. Harness that power and you can teach better and in new ways.

You can’t know what state your learners will be in when they show up next week on Monday (or even if they will show up). But by taking an embedded approach you can set up the best conditions for learning to happen. That makes you a better teacher.

How do I teach better?

theres-a-better-way-to-teachThat’s my question for this year. And hopefully for you as well.

Stay tuned…

50 Things You Can Do To Embed Vocabulary Into Training


There are lots of ways to teach and learn new and unfamiliar words. Here’s a list of 50. None of these are new or any kind of rocket science.

All 50 are ways of explicitly teaching vocabulary.

It’s also possible to learn vocabulary through exposure to new vocabulary incidentally. But that’s another thing altogether.

For every item below, you can probably think of several variations. Feel free to post them here as well for others to see.

Also, for every item on the list you could apply it in the following ways:

  • It’s something you do as the teacher, trainer, or facilitator so it becomes part of a sequence of activities that you deliver in a training environment.
  • It’s something you make your learners do with you (or even independently of you) in a training context.
  • Something you do as you design content for yourself or others to use when they deliver training.

Here’s the list:

  1. Brainstorm a bank of technical or relevant high-frequency words for a given category.
  2. Adapt or select from an existing word bank or list of high-frequency words.
  3. Categorise and prioritise words using the Learning Progressions.
  4. Categorise and prioritise words using high-frequency word lists.
  5. Categorise words using semantic groups or categories.
  6. Create contextualised mini-assessments for pre and post testing.
  7. Brainstorm, mind map, and discuss to activate prior knowledge.
  8. Make flash cards.
  9. Make word + plain-English explanation matching activities.
  10. Make word +plain English explanation + example matching activities.
  11. Focus on spelling words people don’t know by using “look, cover, write.”
  12. Focus on decoding words people can’t read aloud by identifying syllables and intonation or word stress.
  13. Complete the word using only first few letters as a prompt.
  14. Complete the sentence using a cloze (gap fill), or partial cloze activity.
  15. Complete the sentence giving two possible correct but different answers.
  16. Write own example sentences using unfamiliar words.
  17. Write own definitions for new or unfamiliar words.
  18. Collaborate with others to write a paragraph using new words.
  19. Complete the definitions.
  20. Pull apart words and look at the meanings of the parts (etymology).
  21. Match synonyms (words that have the same meaning).
  22. Match antonyms (words that have the opposite meaning).
  23. Choose all the possible answers from a list or multiple choice.
  24. Match a word with a context or scenario.
  25. Give an incorrect sentence and ask others to correct the mistake.
  26. Label a picture or diagram.
  27. Cross out a word that doesn’t belong with others in a group.
  28. Create a diagram or a framework for a group of words, concepts or process.
  29. Sort words on a scale or cline.
  30. Identify pairs of words that are similar but different and explain.
  31. Identify which words are slang or not from a group of words.
  32. Discuss connotations for similar words.
  33. Learn strategies for using a dictionary.
  34. Guess an unfamiliar word meaning from context.
  35. Find the words in a text that match a set of given definitions.
  36. Look at different meanings for familiar words.
  37. Identify cause and effect in a text.
  38. Identify opposites or contrasts in a text.
  39. Identify word type (noun, verb, adjective).
  40. Identify synonyms or paraphrases.
  41. Identify examples.
  42. Ask people to “Look for words that mean X”.
  43. Act out the word and make others guess the meaning.
  44. Describe the word without using the word (or a given set of words) and make others guess the meaning.
  45. Draw a picture that represents the word and make others guess.
  46. Make a crossword.
  47. Make a word find.
  48. Adapt a well-known card game.
  49. Adapt a well-known board game.
  50. Dictate a passage to others and make them reconstruct it collaboratively.

Also, for anything on this list you’re going to want to encourage lots of discussion and talking about the process.

Can You Teach An Old Dog New Tricks (In Education)?

I just love this video… so had to share. But it’s particularly relevant if we think about education.

Negatively held beliefs about literacy, numeracy, and anything to do with education are very difficult to shift. Much easier if you can get to people before their beliefs become entrenched and fossilised.

Much easier if you can get to people before their beliefs become entrenched and fossilised.

I’m looking forward to hearing what my friend and colleague, Damon Whitten has to say about this. He’s nearing the end of his

He’s nearing the end of his PhD research and I know he’s just itching to tell us the answer.

Make sure you follow him on Google, like his blog, and check out his Youtube channel.


Do you want to help review the ALNE or ATT unit standards?


The NZQA is inviting expressions of interest to below to the unit standards review panel for the Adult Literacy and Numeracy Education (ALNE) and others in similar domains.

I’ve pasted in their recent letter below. There are contact emails at the end of the letter


Kia ora tātou

In October 2015 the New Zealand Qualifications Authority’s National Qualifications Services (NQS) will begin the review of Level 4-6 unit standards currently listed on the Directory of Assessment Standards (DAS) in the following subfields: Adult Education and Training (including Adult Literacy and Numeracy Education) and Generic Education and Training.

The domains to be considered in this review are:

Adult Education and Training

  • Adult Literacy and Numeracy Education (ALNE)
  • Delivery of Adult Education and Training
  • Design and Development of Adult Education and Training
  • Evaluation in Adult Education and Training
  • Management of Adult Education and Training

Generic Education and Training

  • Assessment of Learning 

This review is the result of the development of proposed qualifications in Adult and Tertiary Teaching (ATT) at Levels 4-6. It reflects the need to both ensure that existing standards remain fit for purpose, and also that there is a suite of unit standards suitable for those who wish to use them as assessment tools in programmes towards the proposed new qualifications.

You are receiving this notification because you and/or your organisation:

  • reported credit against existing Adult Education and Training (including ALNE) and Generic Education and Training unit standards
  • are an organisation with an interest in either of the above subfields
  • have registered an interest in this area, and/or
  • have been recommended to us as possibly willing to contribute to the project.

We invite expressions of interest by close of business on Wednesday, 28 October 2015 to be on one of the review panels or the email consultation networks for the following areas:

  • Adult Education and Training and Generic Education and Training
  • Adult Literacy and Numeracy Education.

Review panels

The panels will be scheduled to meet initially on 17-18 November 2015. There will be at least two further two-day, face-to-face meetings (including a meeting in December) to continue the unit standard development and review process. This is likely to be followed by several shorter meetings in 2016 by teleconference or Skype, so access to appropriate equipment will be useful.

The review panels will be made up of people who, in Adult Education and Training, and Generic Education and Training and/or Adult Literacy and Numeracy Education, have:

  • expertise in teaching
  • experience in assessment, design and moderation of unit standards
  • involvement in capability related projects, reviews and programme implementation
  • a commitment to the use of unit standards as assessment awards in programmes
  • a commitment to open communication, collaborative problem solving, and team work.

The panels will have balanced representation from across the community and education sector. Members of the review panels will be paid a sitting fee, and travel and accommodation expenses will be met by NZQA.

Application to be a panel review member can be made by completing the attached form and sending it to either: or

Email consultation network

The email consultation network will receive updates on progress between meetings and be given opportunity to comment on issues and drafts of the unit standards prior to and after national consultation.

If you have received this email directly then you are already on the email consultation network. For those who would like to join, please reply to the relevant email address and express your interest.


Any feedback or interpretation issues with the current Adult Education and Training and Generic Education and Training unit standards that might inform the review panels can be forwarded to: or

Please distribute this message through your own networks to anybody who may be interested. For more information, please see Review of ALNE and ATT unit standards.

Nākū noa, nā

Amy Buckland and Annie Chan

Qualifications Development Facilitators

Qualifications Services