Talking about NZ’s embedded literacy and numeracy approach with Indonesian vocational teachers at AUT

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Recently, I had the tremendous privilege and pleasure of spending a day at Auckland University of Technology (AUT) talking about literacy and numeracy with a group of vocational teachers and tutors from Indonesia.

The group was large. The image above shows half of the team and I need to paste in a second photo below so you can see the other half. Here we go…

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My sincere thanks to Dr Adrian Schoone at AUT for inviting me to join these teachers for a day in their busy schedule. Adrian also deserves credit for the two photos above.

These vocational teachers and other support staff were here on a two-week study tour in October looking at how we teach trades and vocational education in Aotearoa New Zealand.

And as part of our introductions and whakawhanaungatana (getting to know each other), I asked them all to place themselves on a giant map I had projected on the wall.

As you can see below, they came from all over Indonesia – from the West to the East.

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For my part, it was a brief and hopefully fun introduction to literacy, numeracy and the embedded approach that we’ve developed here over the last 10 years.

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We had a play with some of the online tools that we have in New Zealand for literacy and numeracy as well. Luckily, AUT had a computer lab big enough to house us all for an hour or so.

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My students for the day were friendly, engaged and worked hard to transcend some of the language barriers between us.

One of the most interesting things for me was realising how integral approaches from Te Ao Māori are now to any discussion I want to have about this work.

Concepts like ako and tuakana-teina seemed to really resonate with the group and their own cultures.

In fact, some had questions about how they could incorporate aspects of their own indigenous ways of knowing and being into their teaching practice.

Just on that note, according to Wikipedia:

  • there are over 300 ethnic groups speaking more than 700 living languages across the vast Indonesian archipelago.

So these weren’t questions I felt could readily answer, but hopefully, they will open a door to further positive discussion back home.

This, in turn, should feed into the work these excellent teachers are doing to invigorate and reinvigorate vocational education in Indonesia.

Overall, it was an excellent day,  I loved spending time with this group and I’d do it again in a heartbeat.

To my new friends and colleagues:

  • Assalam ‘alaikum. I wish you all the best with your work in Indonesia and hope our paths cross again at some stage.

 

 

Low adult literacy and numeracy levels: What’s causing the problem?

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It’s difficult to say exactly what is causing the problem of low adult literacy and numeracy in Aotearoa New Zealand. What we can say though is that low adult literacy and numeracy skills are associated with certain kinds of things.

Just because two things happen together doesn’t always mean that one causes the other. This is an easy mistake to make. In technical terms, we can say this: “Correlation does not imply causation.”

So the point is to be a bit cautious when we’re talking about what we think is causing the problem.

That said, here’s a list of things that often pop up when we talk about what’s causing low skills in the adult population in literacy and numeracy:

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

We’ll have a look at each of these next.

Literacy and numeracy definitions: What’s the difference?

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Similarities and differences

We’ve looked a few different meanings for literacy and numeracy. Now we need to look at how these definitions are the same or different. This is so that you can see how they apply to your teaching or to your learners.

Knowing the similarities and differences is going to help you decide what aspects of each you want to absorb into your own approach. That’s one of the things that is going to help you teach better. So while it’s the application that counts, for starters you need to think about some of the differences.

Just like you need to figure out what’s relevant for your context, you need to figure out what you think the similarities and differences are.

Here are some questions to keep in mind as you work through this process.

Literacy

  • Is the focus just on literacy?
  • People who have good literacy skills behave in certain ways. What does this behaviour look like?

Numeracy

  • Is the focus just on numeracy?
  • People who have good numeracy skills also behave differently to people who don’t. What does this behaviour look like?

Literacy and Numeracy

  • Is there a focus on both literacy and numeracy?
  • We’re most interested in the definition for embedded literacy and numeracy. There are reasons for that. What do you think they are?

Holistic

  • Is there a more holistic approach? Where does this come from?
  • How can a more holistic definition of literacy, such as from Māori and Pasifika help us in our teaching?

Economics

  • Definitions that come from government funding agencies are likely to have economic drivers. This means that under the surface there are likely to be economic incentives behind the drive to encourage and strengthen literacy and numeracy in the population.
  • Let’s assume that this is a good thing. What’s the motivation?

Social

  • Are there social consequences?
  • In other words, if we adopt a particular focus to literacy and numeracy, how can this make our communities better or worse?

Political

  • When leaders talk about literacy and numeracy in a national context – even if they don’t say so – which definition(s) are they likely to be referring to?
  • What kind of political action do you think is associated with this?

ESOL

  • Does it incorporate English to Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL)?
  • If this is not already relevant for you, how could it be important in the future?

Time to do some work

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

  • Download the PDF worksheet, or use the chart below to make notes on how the six definitions we’ve discussed are similar or different.
  • Make sure you think about the questions above.

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

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Thinking more deeply about what we mean by literacy and numeracy

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It’s one thing to read about definitions for literacy and numeracy. It’s another thing to figure out for yourself what you think about them.

With that in mind, we think it’s a good idea for you to have a go at making some notes on the six definitions we’ve talked about so far.

There are a couple of reasons for this. One is that the process of making notes will help you think more deeply about the learning. Another is that you need to be able to talk about similarities and differences between these definitions. This is important as we move forward in the course.

Let’s make some notes first.

To start with, you need to know what the definitions are and where they come from. You should be able to skip back and check on these details.

Also, you need to have some ideas about the following:

  • What are the key features of each?
  • How is each relevant to you?
  • What framework does each connect to?

Much of this we’ve covered, like the features. Relevance is up to you to figure out. It’s your call on that one. And we haven’t discussed the frameworks in depth yet. But we will.

Time to do some work.

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

  • Download the PDF worksheet, or use the chart below to make notes on the six definitions we’ve talked about.
  • Make sure you’ve got a quote for each definition as well as where it comes from.
  • Make notes on any features, the relevance, and frameworks these connect to.

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

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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…

New Adult Literacy and Numeracy Standards Released for the New Qualifications

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Well, it’s taken a while… but it’s finally official. Here’s what you need to know:

  • We have a new suite of unit standards for adult literacy and numeracy education.
  • These new standards are for the new qualifications including the New Zealand Certificate in Adult Literacy & Numeracy Education (Vocational/Workplace).
  • The old standards are now expiring, but are still fit for purpose for assessment until 31 December 2018. So there is roughly a two-year transition period.
  • The content for Unit Standard 21204 has been broken up.
  • The new NZCALNE (Voc) will eventually replace the current NCALNE (Voc), just like the current NCALNE (Voc) replaced the original NCALE (Voc).

In terms of the new NZCALNE (Voc), there are four new standards. These are:

  • Unit 29622. Describe adult literacy and numeracy education in Aotearoa New Zealand. 5 credits
  • Unit 2962. Design strategies to embed adult literacy and numeracy in the delivery of a training or education programme. 10 credits
  • Unit 29624. Plan and facilitate embedded adult literacy and numeracy skills development in a training or education programme. 15 credits
  • Unit 2962. Use assessment to strengthen adult literacy and numeracy teaching and learning. 10 credits

A caution:

  • These standards are not the roadmap to delivering the new qualification. But they do provide a clear guide to what content the new NZCALNE (Voc) should assess as part of programme delivery. It will be up to providers to determine what that delivery roadmap should look like.

The good news:

  • As ALEC already has consent to assess the ALNE standards to level 6, we’ll automatically get this consent extended to the new standards.
  • We submitted our course approval documentation to the NZQA months ago for delivery of the new qualification but it’s been in limbo land pending the release of these new standards. This is now underway again on the NZQA side and we’re waiting to hear on its status.
  • I’ve worked on both the new qualification and the new standards as part of the subject expert group. This means any new content will incorporate the best of what ALEC has had to offer to date, as well as our most current thinking and knowledge about embedding literacy and numeracy into training.

The plan:

  • Our plan is to begin delivering the new version of the qualification with the new standards as soon as we can. Hopefully, this will be by the start of the academic year in 2017. This will depend on how much longer the course approval process takes and then how quickly we can move to develop the new content required.
  • We’ll keep you updated here on any progress.

Any questions? Please let me know.

 

 

From the NZQA: Review of Adult Literacy and Numeracy Education unit standards

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NZQA have now officially listed the new standards for the NCALNE (Voc). I’ve pasted in their blurb below. But I’ll do a shorter summary of my own later today. Cheers, Graeme

Adult Literacy and Numeracy Education (ALNE) unit standards

In September 2016, following the review of ALNE unit standards, a new suite of ALNE standards were approved for listing. The new suite of standards is now available in Domain – Adult Literacy and Numeracy Education.

The new ALNE standards will contribute toward the government strategy of developing the literacy and numeracy of adults and improving the quality of teaching within the context of training or education programmes.

The ALNE unit standards were reviewed to support the New Zealand Certificate in Adult Literacy and Numeracy Education (Vocational/Workplace) (Level 5) [Ref: 2754] and the New Zealand Certificate in Adult Literacy and Numeracy Education (Educator) (Level 5) [Ref: 2755]. The standards align with the graduate profile outcomes in content and credit value.

An expert panel, comprised of representation from the tertiary sector (polytechnic, private training establishment and university), the New Zealand Council for Educational Research, an ALNE consultant, and the national moderator, met to review these standards. Changes proposed by the panel were circulated to the wider network for consultation and endorsement.

Main changes

  • Literacy and numeracy teaching and learning are not treated in separate standards. Both literacy and numeracy are covered in all standards.
  • The standards have taken on a more applied approach, taking the theory of ALNE teaching and learning into practice.
  • The credit value of the standards are between 5 – 15 credits. There is no longer a 30 credit standard required for vocational/workplace candidates.
  • In the explanatory notes, reference has been made to the New Zealand ALNE qualifications, to which the new standards have been aligned. These standards are a valid way of achieving the qualifications.

Cross-crediting

Cross-crediting between the ALNE Vocational/Workplace qualification and the Educator qualification is explicit in the areas of knowledge required for ALNE in Aotearoa New Zealand. The standards below may be used for both qualifications:

  • Unit 29622, Describe adult literacy and numeracy education in Aotearoa New Zealand (5 credits)
  • Unit 29625, Use assessment to strengthen adult literacy and numeracy teaching and learning (10 credits).

Other skills and knowledge in the above two areas, required for the specialist adult literacy and numeracy Educator qualification, are reflected in extra standards. A table, showing the relationship between new ALNE standards and NZ ALNE qualifications, is available in the document “List of ALNE stds showing relations.docx” (DOCX, 22KB).

ALNE standards may also be credited towards the New Zealand Certificate in Adult and Tertiary Teaching (Level 5) [Ref: 2993] in areas where the same skills and knowledge are required for these qualifications. Dependent on the programme design for these qualifications, there are potential overlaps in areas of design, facilitation, assessment and evaluation.

Transition period

The replaced ALNE standards are now designated as ‘expiring’. The last date for assessment against these standards is 31 December 2018. This is a transition period to allow time for providers to adjust their programmes and resources to the new standards. For more information on Expired and replaced unit standards go to Outcomes of unit standard reviews page.

Providers who currently have consent to assess ALNE unit standards will have this extended to the new standards automatically.

Why Don’t Half of Kids with NCEA Level 1 Meet Literacy and Numeracy Benchmarks?

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I’m not going to answer the question. But you might want to read below if you have your own ideas.

I want to talk about a presentation that did the rounds today. If you click this link below, you’ll be able to download the slides. It’s on literacy and numeracy levels in relation to NCEA year levels.

If you look past the poor design, some interesting pieces of data pop out. Here is how I have interpreted these… in bullet form because I know you won’t read the presentation:

  • Proportions of students achieving at or above the national standards haven’t really moved at all between the years 2011 to 2014
  • Percentages of students at or above the national standards  drop as they go through the year levels.
  • Teachers at years 7-11 are teaching content and content vocabulary, but minimising literacy challenges for students. The report says they’re doing this with the best interests of the students in mind.
  • The numbers of 18 year-olds with NCEA level 2 or equivalent has dramatically increased from 2011 to now, including for Maori and Pasifika.

And here’s some connections to data from the TEC’s Literacy and Numeracy for Adults Assessment Tool (LNAAT). This is where it gets really interesting.

Just in case you are wondering, all tertiary education providers – that is, post high school –  delivering foundation level learning are required to use the LNAAT as a condition of funding.

The benchmark here was Level 3 from the ALL Survey which they have lined up with Step 4 for Literacy and Step 5 for Numeracy.

  • Just over half (51%) of year 11 students with NCEA level 1 reading are below the benchmark for reading. This means half of students with NCEA level 1 are at step 3 or below in the LNAAT.
  • Just under half (47%) of year 11 students with NCEA level 1 numeracy are below the benchmark. This means that these students are at step 4 or below in the LNAAT.

Just an example: If your kid read at step 3, but not at step 4, this means they have a basic vocabulary of everyday words. What they probably can’t read and understand is any academic language, like the kinds of “teacher words” used to describe the tasks they have to do at school. They also probably can’t understand any of the technical or specialised words they need to make sense of the subject matter that they’re learning.

What they probably can’t read and understand is any academic language, like the kinds of “teacher words” used to describe the tasks they have to do at school. These words kind of slot in at step 4 and 5. They also probably can’t understand any of the technical or specialised words they need to make sense of the subject matter that they’re learning.

They also probably can’t understand any of the technical or specialised words they need to make sense of the subject matter that they’re learning. These words start at step 5 but they sit mainly at step 6. Here we’re talking about the specialised language of a trade, or of any content area really.

Remember, these students in the stats above already have NCEA Level 1 signed off. This means that they have already achieved the required number of credits for literacy and numeracy. That means they passed at least 20 credits dedicated to literacy and numeracy.

Just so we’re clear: teachers already signed off that these students met the requirement for literacy and numeracy for NCEA level 1.

But the test data indicates that they are below the level literacy and numeracy levels of actual literacy and numeracy standards.

Here’s the data for year 12 according to the presentation.

  • 42% of year 12 students with NCEA L2 reading are below the benchmark. That is they are at step 3 or below on the LNAAT.
  • 41% of year 12 students with NCEA L2 numeracy are below the benchmark. In other words, at step 4 or below on the LNAAT.

Highlighted in red in the presentation is the following (I’ve tidied up the grammar):

  • The data suggests that students achieving [NCEA] requirements only through unit standards have lower performance on the LNAAT.
  • Year 12 students who met requirements through unit standards [only] were less
    likely to achieve NCEA Level 2.

Here’s a question to consider:

  • If this data is correct, does it mean that high-school teachers, already pushed for time and working under less than ideal conditions, need to think about better ways of integrating or embedding literacy and numeracy into their content teaching? 

If this is correct they need to rethink their fundamental approaches to teaching their content. And here’s another question, although more of a prediction:

  • The Ministry of Education – through the TEC – already owns a well-researched and now widely implemented tool for measuring literacy and numeracy gains. They even have a “Youth” version. If you were working in Government, wouldn’t it make economic sense to you to apply this tool to the years 11 – 13 to assess literacy and numeracy gains? I’d start with the vocational areas first.

I’m not advocating for it. And I’m not judging. Well, maybe a little. Anyway, finally a suggestion:

  • If you were a school teacher, or principal faced with massive new compliance requirements on the horizon related to literacy and numeracy gains, wouldn’t it make sense to look at a home-grown and already existing model for embedding literacy and numeracy into trades and other content areas?

How Do I Give My Feedback On The New Adult Literacy & Numeracy Education Unit Standards?

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If you are involved in foundation focused tertiary education in New Zealand, we need you to give us your feedback on the new Adult Literacy and Numeracy Education (ALNE) unit standards.

These new unit standards replace US21204 and many other unit standards used for the NCALNE (Voc) and related qualifications.

From my side, I’m biased… Full disclosure: I’m in the working party redesigning these standards. I’m only interested in the standards for the new NZCALNE (Voc) qualification. This is eventually going to replace the existing NCALNE (Voc).

And I’m more interested in the standards for the new NZCALNE (Voc) qualification. This is eventually going to replace the existing NCALNE (Voc).

This is the biggest upgrade to the qualification since it changed from the original NCALE.

I think the new standards are pretty good. But NZQA wants your feedback now. So here are the questions you should be asking yourself:

  • How do I give my feedback on the new standards?
  • What do I like about the new standards?
  • What improvements could we still make?
  • What challenges, if any, will these create for people delivering the training?

Here’s what to do in four simple steps:

1. Read the new standards

  • You can access all of the new standards online from this page.
  • Or you can access the links to the four new standards that that will get used for the 40 credits required in the NZCALNE (Voc) here on my blog.

2. Download the response form

3. Provide your comments and feedback

  • You have to do that yourself… If you think we can make them better please say so.
  • If you think they are OK, then please let NZQA know that as well.

4. Email to NZQA

What Do The New Standards For Adult Literacy & Numeracy Education Look Like?

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I’m glad you asked… There are 11 new unit standards in draft stage at the moment. I’m particularly interested in four of these (and you should be too if you’re involved in foundation education).

The four below will form the basis for assessment against the revised NZCALNE (Voc) qualification.

  • Unit 1: Describe adult literacy and numeracy education in Aotearoa New Zealand (5 credits).
  • Unit 2: Design strategies to embed adult literacy and numeracy in a vocational or workplace programme (10 credits).
  • Unit 3: Plan and facilitate embedded adult literacy and numeracy teaching and learning in the delivery of a training or education programme (15 credits).
  • Unit 4: Use assessment to strengthen adult literacy and numeracy teaching and learning (10 credits).

If you have something to say, the official feedback form is here. Disclosure: I’m in the NZQA working group developing these.