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 – 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?

Strategies (12)

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

Strategies (10).jpg

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.

Under the hood: Learning progressions for adult numeracy

Num Progs

The Learning Progressions for Adult Numeracy are part two of the Learning Progressions framework. We use the numeracy progressions to help us understand how to embed numeracy. Part one is the Literacy Progressions discussed in the last section.

Where does it come from?

The Tertiary Education Commission (TEC).

What’s it for?

The numeracy progressions are

  • A guide to identifying the next numeracy steps for adult learners.

As we saw with literacy in the last section, the Numeracy Progressions provide a framework that shows what adult learners know and can do at successive points as they develop their expertise in numeracy learning.

The progressions describe what is learned in the order that it is usually learned. And just as we can with the Literacy Progressions, we can use the Numeracy Progressions to:

  • Identify the numeracy-related demands of a specific workplace, community, or personal tasks and texts.
  • Gain a basic picture of an adult learner’s current skills, strategies and knowledge in numeracy.
  • Decide on a sequence for teaching and learning specific numeracy skills.

What is it?

Like the Literacy Progressions, the Numeracy Progressions are best understood visually as three grids. These grids are the numeracy strands. There is one for number, one for statistics, and another for measurement.

Together these three strands are the framework we use for numeracy. Here is the number strand.


The Number strand has six columns or progressions. In the strand above, the first column is the Additive Strategies Progression. We’ll talk about the details later, but for now all you need to know is that this includes addition and subtraction. And that there are six koru or steps going down from top to bottom.

Something else that’s good to know at this stage is that this strand has three strategies progressions on the right-hand side. And then you can see three other progressions on the left in grey. These grey ones are knowledge progressions.

This means that the koru or steps on the right includes all the things you need to know, in order to do all the things on the left. So the knowledge needs to come first.

Here’s the strand that includes shapes, space, and measurement.


As with the literacy strands we showed you before, we’ve taken out the details. All you need for now is to have an idea on how the framework is put together.

Module 3 is where we will fill in the details and show you how to work with it to work out the numeracy demands of your teaching or training.

To sum up, The Learning Progressions for Adult Numeracy are organised into three strands:

  • Make Sense of Number to Solve Problems
  • Reason Statistically
  • Measure and Interpret Shape and Space

As with literacy, each strand contains a group of progressions. Each progression highlights a particular area of knowledge or learning within a strand, for example, measurement.

And as before, each step or koru in a progression represents a development step as learners strengthen or build their expertise.

How is it relevant?

Everything that we said before about the Literacy Progressions applies here. Except the focus is on numeracy. The underlying idea is that the numeracy progressions can help you teach better.

Our focus in this course, involves you using the numeracy progressions to do the following.

  • Work out the numeracy demands of your teaching (Module 3 – Demands).
  • Design strategies for embedding numeracy into your programme (Module 4).
  • Assess and understand your learners’ numeracy needs better (Module 5 – Before).
  • Plan how to embed numeracy into teaching and activities (Module 6 – Teaching).
  • Assess learner numeracy progress (Module 7 – After).

What does it mean for me?

Once you have a working knowledge of the Learning Progressions you’ll be able to focus on better teaching by understanding the demands of your training, the strengths and needs of your learners, and what you need to do to move your learners on to the next step.

As with literacy there are implications for you relating to assessment. If you use the Literacy and Numeracy for Adults Assessment Tool (LNAAT), you’ll need to do a numeracy assessment as well.

This one also generates a detailed report for each learner showing key numeracy strengths and needs. It looks like this.


Make sure that you have access to these reports. In an ideal world, you should have electronic access to the tool itself. But if you don’t, then ask your tool admin person to email them to you.

We’ll show you how to make sense of the information later. This will be a key part of Module 5 when we cover the kinds of diagnostic tools and processes you can use to be a better, more informed educator.

Teach better – What is numeracy?


(ii) Numeracy

This next definition comes from the PIIAC study as well.

What’s the definition?

Numeracy is the ability to use, interpret and communicate mathematical information and ideas in order to engage in and manage the mathematical demands of a range of situations (p.4).

Where does this definition come from?

Ministry of Education and Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment (2016). Skills and Education: Survey of Adult Skills (PIAAC). Wellington: Ministry of Education and Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment.

What are some key features?


  • Quantity
  • Dimension and shapes
  • Patterns
  • Data and chance
  • Visual displays.

How is this definition relevant to my teaching context?

As with the definition for literacy, this one is important because it allows us to talk about our learners, our country and other countries when it comes to numeracy.

Also, it has a practical focus on using maths for a purpose. As with literacy, numeracy shouldn’t be mindless repetition and practice. It should be about solving problems that have meaning in the context of every life and work.

This is relevant to your teaching because this isn’t about the maths that you, or your learners, got at high school. This is about how to use maths ideas and knowledge to do stuff that you need to do.

The kinds of situations that are relevant to your learners and your teaching should provide you with the kinds of maths and numeracy that you need to do. But more on that in the next definition.


Teach Better – What is Literacy?


Introducing definitions

Something that we need to do first is figure out what we mean when we talk about literacy and numeracy. Let’s look at some definitions. There’s at least six we need to cover.

  • Literacy
  • Numeracy
  • Embedded literacy and numeracy
  • Maori literacy
  • Pasifika
  • ESOL

(i) Literacy

These first two definitions are important for a couple of reasons. One reason is that when politicians and people in the media talk about literacy and numeracy, even if they don’t mention it by name, they are likely to be thinking about some research that happened recently.

This research has a long name but gets shorted to the PIAAC. This was a massive study that looked at literacy and numeracy levels in New Zealand, but also in other countries. If you hear people comparing New Zealand’s literacy levels to other countries, then this is what they are referring to.

What’s the definition?

Literacy is the ability to understand, evaluate, use and engage with written texts to get everyday things done (p.4).

Where does this definition come from?

This definition comes from:

Ministry of Education and Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment (2016). Skills and Education: Survey of Adult Skills (PIAAC). Wellington: Ministry of Education and Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment.

What are some key features?

  • Understanding written words and sentences
  • Making sense of text in charts and diagrams
  • Comprehending, interpreting and evaluating complex texts.
  • This definition is more focused on reading rather than writing

How is this definition relevant to my teaching context?

Here are a few reasons how this definition might be relevant to your teaching?

This definition of literacy allows us to talk about the “state of the nation” when it comes to literacy. This means that you can think about the ability of your learners in the same way that the researchers did when they surveyed thousands of people.

It gets quoted by political and educational leaders. But it’s not the full picture when it comes to literacy. So we need to be careful about how we use it. And how others use it. This won’t make you a better teacher, but it helps to be critical and aware of what others are saying. Then you can make up your own mind.

This definition allows us to compare ourselves with other countries or our own past performance. This also won’t improve your teaching directly, but it might help you feel better to know a couple of things. One is that most other countries like ours have a similar problem when it comes to literacy. Another one is that, on the whole, we’re doing pretty well.

It has a practical focus. In other words, it’s about using language “to get everyday things done.” This should help you focus your teaching. Literacy is about doing. If your approach to literacy is academic then drop it in favour of something else that encourages using and engaging with language.

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…