How to write your own learning outcomes for embedding Reading

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Writing your own learning outcomes

If you have already started writing your learning outcomes and you’re happy with the way it’s going, please carry on. Finish off the assessment and submit your work to us for comment.

If you need some more support, please read on…! We can walk you through the process of writing learning outcomes for the following four areas:

  • Reading
  • Writing
  • Number
  • Measurement

Just click through to the content that you need. There is a worksheet for each as well as notes.

We haven’t focused on listening, speaking, or statistics. If these are relevant to your learners, you’re welcome to follow the guidelines and write your own learning outcomes for these instead.

How to write your own learning outcomes for Reading

You can do this on your own or download the worksheet here here.


  1. Choose one item from each box and then add your own context.
  2. Write out your own final draft of the learning outcome.
  3. If you need to, make any changes to ensure your learning outcome is specific to the reading skills you want to teach and assess.










decoding strategies

everyday vocabulary

academic vocabulary

technical vocabulary

knowledge of language and text features

comprehension strategies

critical reading strategies

in the context of…

Demands: What are some specific reading demands?

We are going to be working with the Read with Understanding strand. Now… let’s go through it slowly. If you are already an experienced mapper, please skip ahead to the assessment task.

1. Print out the Read with Understanding strand.

Make sure you have the Read with Understanding strand in front of you so you can refer to the details for each step.

It looks like this, but it will have descriptions of skills and knowledge in all of the steps. You can Download the Read with Understanding Strand Chart if you need to.

Read with Understanding

Screenshot 2017-03-16 10.44.252. Choose a specific sample reading text or task from your teaching programme.

Choose some kind of teaching material that your learners have to work with, not NZQA unit standard descriptions.

Here are some examples of samples that you could choose:

  • Several pages from a workbook containing difficult vocabulary or new terminology.
  • Pages from a Code of Practice that people don’t always understand.
  • Content from a workplace induction procedure.
  • A health and safety compliance document.
  • A complicated notice that people have to read and understand.
  • Relevant pages from an Act of Parliament that is relevant to training and assessment.

3. Have clear reasons for choosing the sample

In the assessment template, you’ll need to say why you chose the sample. There are lots of reasons. Here are some:

  • You might have chosen some teaching material that you already know causes difficulties for your learners.
  • You might already know that you need to create some new material to teach a new part of your programme.
  • Your supervisor or manager may have asked you to focus on something in particular.

4. Start your mapping with the Vocabulary progression

In a nutshell, what you’re going to do at every stage is refer to the Strand charts and then shade in your own chart down to the relevant step.

We’re going to practice with the vocabulary progression. This is the easiest place to start.

For most training that has a technical aspect, like trades or employment focused training, it’s safe to start at around step 4/5 for reading. Look at the description for vocabulary at step 4/5.

You’ll see the following:

“… a reading vocabulary that includes some general academic
words and some specialised words”.

Vocabulary Most adults will be able to
Koru / step 1 have a reading vocabulary of everyday words, signs and symbols.
Koru / step 2 have a reading vocabulary of everyday words that includes some compound words.
Koru / step 3 have a reading vocabulary of everyday words and some less common words, acronyms and abbreviations.
Koru / step 4 – 5 have a reading vocabulary that includes some general academic words and some specialised words.
Koru / step 6 have a large reading vocabulary that includes general academic words and specialised words and terms.

5. Use what you know about your own subject

At this point, you need to use your own knowledge of your training material or work to decide whether this applies. In other words:

  • Does the sample require your learners to be able to use some academic words (like “measure”, “demonstrate”, “evaluate”, for example)?
  • Does the material require your learners to use some words that are specific to your trade or specialised training content (“listeria” for catering, “glyphosate” for farming or horticulture, or “Nogs and dwangs” for carpentry, for example)?

If your answer was no, then you need to drop back to step 3 and see if that fits better. Step 3 for vocabulary means there are no academic words and no specialised or technical words.

If you answered yes, then you should push ahead to step 6 and see if the answer is still yes to the description there.

Step 6 applies to vocabulary where you expect your learners to be working with a large bank of academic and specialised or technical words.

If you work in trades, your material is probably at least at steps 4/5 or 6 for vocabulary.

If you have a lot of technical jargon to deal with then go with step 6. If there’s just a bit, but it’s not too much then go with steps 4/5, which is a combined step.

If you’re not sure about what step, this process works well if you do it together with a colleague who knows what you know about what you teach or train.

6. Map the demands on paper first

If you’re working on paper, get a highlighter and shade down from the top until you’ve included the highest step that you identified for vocabulary. You’ll end up with something like this:

Screenshot 2017-03-20 17.32.43

This is mapping. Above, we’ve mapped the vocabulary demands for reading at steps 4 / 5.

You can download a chart and worksheet here for mapping your own reading sample. It’s exactly the same as section 3.3 of your assessment task. Print this out and you can use it as a rough draft and for notes.

7. Map your reading sample against the rest of the progressions in the strand.

Once you’ve mapped vocabulary, you can move on to Decoding and then other progressions. The system is the same. For each relevant progression:

  • Start somewhere in the middle of the steps – say around step 3.
  • Read the description from the Strand Chart for this step.
  • Use your judgement and decide of your sample matches the description. If it doesn’t drop down to a lower step. If it does, go to a higher step and repeat.

If a progression is not relevant you can skip it. But make sure you have a reason for this as your tutor or assessor may ask you.

There is also some subjective judgement involved. But also, you are the expert here. You know your own content. In the case of vocabulary, it’s easy… If you see technical jargon, you can’t map it at step 3. It has to be above this.

Also, many of the skills and knowledge required at steps 1 and 2 is very developmental. For trades and most courses, you’re going to be mapping at step 3 and above.

In fact, if you are a trades tutor, you may find that much of your course is at step 5 and 6.

When you’ve mapped all of the relevant reading progressions for your sample, you might end up with something like this:

Screenshot 2017-03-20 17.32.54

This is mapping in visual terms. From here you need to be able to talk about your results and what they mean.

When you complete the assessment task, you’ll need to answer a series of questions to show that you know what you’ve just done.

These questions are in the assessment template and in the worksheet if you download it. They’re also here below:

  • What text or task did you use?
  • Why did you choose this as your sample?
  • Out of everything here, what are the most important progressions and steps?
  • What about planning for assessment and teaching?

In the template, there are prompts to help you answer the questions. Feel free to ignore them if you like. But they are there to help you get started writing your answers and guide you in the right direction.

If you can map a sample reading text and answer the questions above, you can move onto the next module. Keep your sample handy, though. You’ll need to scan it and upload it when you submit your finished assessment task.

Want to help your kids with reading?

My friend James is developing free resources for parents to help kids with reading. There’s video tutorials, PDF downloads, comprehension questions, and all kinds of  stuff.

This is very cool Kiwi content that you should support. You can also watch and listen to James reading the stories out loud.

There’s a low-key focus on teaching and learning reading comprehension strategies and building vocabulary through original stories.

More about James’ background and own story here.

How to learn anything part 2: What you need is an operating system for learning…


I started my riff on How to Learn Anything in another post which you can read here.

Basically, what I’m suggesting is that you don’t need to be smart to learn new stuff. What you need is a combination of grit plus a toolbox of tools to help you learn.

A reliable system, in other words, is all you need to learn anything. And this system is not any kind of secret knowledge. It’s in plain view and the tools are accessible to anyone.

But what you might need is someone to help you put all the pieces together. To show you what the tools are that you need in your tool box.

So the next question is… what would this system look like? Here’s the answer:

In broad terms, it’s an operating system for learning. There are specific tools to use at each stage, but as an overview your operating system for learning looks something like this:

  1. Seek to understand context and connections: Try to work out, investigate, and understand the context for what you want to learn. And look for connections within this context between chunks of content as well as outside to other areas, particularly areas that seem – on the surface – to have no relationship to what you’re trying to learn. This is ongoing. It’s not just something you do once.
  2. Work out what you don’t know: This can be difficult. After all, how do you know what you don’t know, right? However, start with the big picture, your broad goals, or  desired skills and then break it down from there. Deconstruct where you want to be – the intended outcome or state – into smaller and smaller chunks. And you have to break this down into specific kinds of learning. e.g. practical skills, vocabulary, being able to read and understand the source material.
  3. Work out where you are now: In order to move forward you need to have a sense of where you are now in relation to where you want to be. You need a way of knowing how much you know about your new learning goal as well a how competent or proficient you are. This might be easier particularly if you’re starting something new from scratch.
  4. Work out what the next steps are: What you want is a sequence of highly focused next steps to take you to your goal. You want to be able to target each of these next steps in your development with the precision and focus of a crack shot military sniper. And in these next steps you need to know what to do. Here you are going to need strategies for learning skills, reading complicated materials, dealing with new language and more.
  5. Have ways of measuring your progress: This is critical. How will you know that you’ve made progress or arrived at your goal? You need clear ways of measuring your progress that are SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Time-bound).
  6. Have ways of measuring your effectiveness: What we’re talking about here is you reflecting critically on what you’re doing and figuring out what has worked and what you need to do differently to keep moving forward.

Next we’ll need to know what some of the practical tools are that you can use at each stage.

Paulo Coelho

How to learn anything: Part 1


Let’s face it. Learning stuff can be hard. It’s not easy to go through a new learning curve for new content that you need for work, study, or even just for a hobby.

However, what if it was possible for you to learn anything?

Find an expert right? Get a teacher or a tutor? Join a course? Find a Guru? Go to college or university? Read a book even… Watch youtube videos…

But there’s a problem: People that are really good at whatever it is that you want to learn, aren’t always the best teachers. So you can’t always get the tools that you need from the masters or the experts. Or even from their books.

There’s reasons for this of course. Often it’s because the people that are really good at something, really outstanding at what they do, are often so immersed in their own stuff that they just can’t see or understand that you (and me) don’t already know what they know.

Experts, specialists, master practitioners often become so close to their own content that they simply assume – without meaning to and without awareness that they’re doing this – that you already have certain foundational building blocks in place for whatever it is they want to tell you.

And we’re all guilty of this actually. And just have a think about it. If you’re in business, and unless you’ve got an accounting background, do you really understand what the last thing was that your hot-shot accountant said to you? Or your mortgage broker? Or your IT specialist?

What about if you’re at university, or in a technical or vocational training course, or even at high school? Did you even grasp part of what the Economics teacher just said? Or the electrician? Or the doctor?

You might think that what you’d need is some kind of secret sauce perhaps… Some kind of pill to make you smarter or able to concentrate hard or work better…?

Perhaps not.

What you’d really need is a toolbox of tools to help you. This toolbox of tools would be your super learning system.

Hopefully, it would be a system that you could use again and again with new and different content. It would evolve and develop with you as you evolve and develop.

Learning new stuff will still be hard. It often is. But you can make it better by having the right tools. The right tools for the right job.

What we’re experiencing is an exponential growth in knowledge right now. More and more people are becoming more and more specialised in narrower and narrower fields.

It’s overwhelming. Confusing. Intimidating.

But what if the tools and the toolbox you needed was really simple… really straightforward… What if this toolbox contained a lot of things that you already know and use.

And what if the tools didn’t depend on smart… but on grit.

I’m not saying it’s going to be easy. Not everyone is smart… but perhaps grit is something you can learn too… something that everyone has access to already if they just switch it on in their brain and body.

What if I could show you this toolbox of tools? Would you find something to apply it to?

What would you learn if you could learn anything?

How do I get started on Assessment 5 of the NCALNE (Voc) and demonstrating that I’m actually embedding literacy and numeracy into my training?

embedding 02

If you’re up to this stage, you’re actually about, or even over, half way. This section is a big chunk… but it’s also the teaching component of the qualification.

Basically, after having mapped the literacy and numeracy demands, and diagnosed your learners literacy and numeracy needs, you actually need to get out there and do some embedded literacy and numeracy teaching.

These are your interventions, in other words. You have to come up with embedded literacy and numeracy focused learning outcomes, activities, and strategies. We’ve got a very specific format for doing this, so make sure you pay attention to what’s in your Assessment Guide or in Pathways Awarua in Assessment Module 5.

Here’s a list of various links and articles that might support you through this part of the training:

  1. As always, if you haven’t already, all of our course content is available for free in interactive modules on the Pathways Awarua literacy and numeracy learning platform. You can find the instructions on how to register here if you haven’t already. We have a unique ALEC join code so email us for it if you need it (
  2. I know I said it already, but don’t forget to check what’s already in your ALEC Study Guide and Assessment Guide for this part of the course.
  3. We’ve also got a great one-page handout that summarises the connections between assessments 4, 5, 6 – email us for a copy if you haven’t got it already.
  4. You can listen to an audio-only podcast of me talking through Assessment 5 here if you need a refresh on the requirements.
  5. There are video clips on Section 5 of the NCALNE (Voc) here on our Youtube channel.
  6. If you need ideas for activities for reading, writing, listening, speaking, and numeracy there is a wealth of material including teaching points, guided learning sequences, and resources in your ALEC Study Pack in the Learning Progressions support guides. Much of that is also online here if you want to go in and find it.
    • Unfortunately, this great content tends to be buried inside the other content so you have to click through a sequence like this to find an activity: Go to website >> Click Explore the learning progressions for Make Sense of Number to Solve Problems >> this takes you to a page from the learning progressions for multiplicative strategies where you can click on an activity like Multiplication Strategies where you get the actual activity or can download it as a PDF. The alternative is just to turn to page 39 in the Teaching Adults to Make Sense of Number book. I’m going to have a go a progressively dealing with this issue and liberating this material, but it might have to wait until another time.
  7. As well as the massive amount of content and ideas provided in the support materials to the Learning Progressions there is also a wealth of information on LN activities online. For this reason, I haven’t focused so much on the activities on my blog or in the ALEC Study Guide. However, I have posted a few bits and pieces here that are useful. First though you need to make sure that you understand how to write really focused embedded literacy and numeracy learning outcomes. If you need them, please refer to:
  8. Here are a few numeracy activities that, while they aren’t particularly contextualised, they are fun and they work:
  9. I did also start looking at some ideas for designing independent reading activities based on literacy unit standards 26622 and 26624 here if that’s of interest. There’s a downloadable cover sheet that you could adapt or cannibalise in any way you like here. Just a caution though, if you’re just doing a couple of embedded reading activities for your NCALNE (Voc) and you don’t care about US 26622 and 26624, you’d be well advised to strip back my suggestions to only what you think you really need.
  10. In terms of writing, I also started developing some ideas for a writing workshop here which I did flesh out in a bit more detail here. But again, just pick and choose what you want. If you’re just doing a couple of embedded writing activities for the NCALNE (Voc) you can be very selective here.
  11. Lastly:
    • Don’t forget to collect actual evidence of your learners actually doing the learning that you’ve designed. Think about using the digital camera on your phone. Scan copies of their completed work or drafts. Take a photo of what on the whiteboard at different stages. And send all of this together with your write up of Assessment 5 and copies of the activities that you used.
    • Don’t forget to make at least one of your embedded LN teaching interventions some kind of independent learning activity, i.e. where your learners do it without you (whether at home, in class, or wherever).
    • Don’t forget to think about where and when you will re-assess your learners using the contextualised LN tools you used earlier. You’ll need this for Assessment 6.
    • Don’t forget to build in some kind of evaluation component. You’ll need this for Assessment 7.
  12. If you’re working on this through the Pathways Awarua MOOC, your employer will need to have paid your course fee in order to unlock assessment modules (3 – 7)
  13. And if you’re a paid up student and you’re not completing this through the Pathways Awarua MOOC, you can email us ( for the latest version of the template for assessment Task 5.
  14. Otherwise, give us a call to discuss (0800-ALEC-1-2) or email us anyway ( and we’ll be in touch to help explain or clarify.

How do I get started on Literacy and Numeracy Diagnostic Assessment – and Assessment 4 of the NCALNE (Voc)


If you’re like a lot of people doing the NCALNE (Voc) literacy and numeracy professional development, you realise there’s a bit of what I call “heavy lifting” to do when you get to this stage.

This not because literacy and numeracy diagnostic assessment is any harder than any other part (well… it might be), but the main thing is that you’ve got to start working with a couple of learners that you need to track through the test-teach-test format of Assessments 4, 5, and 6.

For Assessment 4 on LN Diagnostic you need to actually go and do a bunch of things including using the TEC assessment tool as well as a couple of more contextualised assessments of your own.

This is also the point where you need to start thinking about learning plans as well, so there’s quite a lot going on.

With this in mind, I’ve tried to compile a collection of various links and resources that might help if you need them.

  1. As always, if you haven’t already, all of our course content is available for free in interactive modules on the Pathways Awarua literacy and numeracy learning platform. You can find the instructions on how to register here if you haven’t already. We have a unique ALEC join code so email us for it if you need it (
  2. Don’t forget to check what’s already in your ALEC Study Guide and Assessment Guide for this part of the course.
  3. We’ve also got a great one-page handout that summarises the connections between assessments 4, 5, 6 – email us for a copy if you haven’t got it already.
  4. If you need a refresh on what’s required, I’ve got a short audio-only podcast of me talking through the assessment requirements here.
  5. There are video clips on diagnostic assessment and Assessment 4 of the NCALNE (Voc) that you can watch on our Youtube channel.
  6. And then there are various resources relating to diagnostic assessment on this blog including:
  7. If you’re working on this through the Pathways Awarua MOOC, your employer will need to have paid your course fee in order to unlock the assessment module.
  8. And if you’re a paid up student and you’re not completing this through the Pathways Awarua MOOC, you can email us ( for the latest version of the template for assessment Task 4.
  9. Otherwise, give us a call to discuss (0800-ALEC-1-2) or email us anyway ( and we’ll be in touch to help explain or clarify.