Cultural Capability Trial for Foundation-Level Educators

ako brand

Here’s something new from my He Taunga Waka Colleagues at Ako Aotearoa. They would love you to trial new content they have been writing.

The focus is on working more effectively with your Māori and Pasifika learners.

You’ll need to visit Pathways Awarua to trial the new material and there’s a link to a survey to complete at the end. Your comments will be anonymous.

Please participate. Your comments will help make this work even better. If you already have an account, just log in with that. You’ll see a screen like the one in the image below once you’re underway

Cheers, Graeme

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Kia ora tātou/ Talofa/ Malo e lelei/Kia orana/ Bula vinaka/ Greetings!

We are pleased to announce the launch the Cultural Capability trial for tertiary foundation-level educators!

General information

The purpose of this trial by the Tertiary Education Commission (TEC) is to improve the cultural competencies of educators across the tertiary sector.

The trial is based on cultural values – values will guide any educator to attain a broader understanding of their adult learners. The Māori Cultural Capabilities pathway trial focuses on the key value of ‘ako’, the concept of learning and teaching. The Pasifika Cultural Competencies pathway focuses on ‘values’ that are embedded and practised in cultural and everyday settings of Pasifika people.

What to do?

Firstly, read the attached information. The activities are located on the Pathways Awarua site, and here is the link to get there – https://www.pathwaysawarua. com/


  • Read the information sheet first
  • Login by creating a username and password
  • Complete the survey monkeys after each pathway to give feedback
  • This trial will remain open till the 28 February 2018

Thank you for your participation,

The He Taunga Waka team from Ako Aotearoa

Information sheet for Cultural Capability trial 2018

Greetings/kia ora /kia orana/talofalava /malo e lelei /takalofa lahi atu /ni sa bula vinaka!

The purpose of the Cultural Pathways initiative by the Tertiary Education Commission (TEC) is to improve the cultural capability of educators across the tertiary sector. For this trial, the TEC are focussing on Māori and Pasifika cultural capability. This information sheet provides details for about the Cultural Capability trial created by the He Taunga Waka team from Ako Aotearoa.

Tell me more about this Cultural Pathway trial?

The cultural pathways consist of some sample activities which are interactive, for trialists to engage in, and respond accordingly. There are two pathways for trialists to complete; the Māori pathway focuses on ‘ako’ (the concept of learning and teaching); and the Pasifika pathway focuses on ‘values’ that are embedded and practised in cultural settings or instilled in the everyday actions of Pasifika people.

Where are they?

These two pathways and activities can be found on the Pathways Awarua platform, an online site for adult learners seeking to sharpen their literacy and numeracy skills in real-life situations such as driving skills, dealing with money, and health and safety. It is intended that educators (such as tutors, kaiako, lecturers, and training advisors) will be able to access these cultural capability pathways for their professional development too (easy instructions are found below).

How much time will it take?

This trial takes about 45-60 minutes, and there is a short survey to complete at the end of each Pathway.

How do I access the trial?

  1. Click on   and create a login-username and password.
  2. Click on go
  3. Select a pathway (Māori or Pasifika) on the left of your screen and complete the activities.
  4. Click on the link to a short surveymonkey to complete for that pathway.
  5. Go back and select the other pathway (Māori or Pasifika) and complete the activities.
  6. Click on the link to a short surveymonkey to complete for that pathway.

What happens after the trial?

We assure trialists that your personal details and written responses will be kept confidential and private. Your responses in the surveys will inform the design of further activities on these two cultural pathways. Information gathered in the surveys will be used for educative and research purposes only; and primarily for the benefit of tertiary educators.

We wish to finally thank you for your participation in this trial

The He Taunga Waka team from Ako Aotearoa


Under the hood: ESOL Starting Points


The Starting Points framework allows tutors to focus on learning that happens at or before koru/step 1 on the Learning Progressions for Adult Literacy. This is often in an ESOL context.

Where does it come from?

The ESOL Starting Points were created by The Tertiary Education Commission (TEC). This was in response for a guide for working with learners who are pre-literate or very low level literacy learners.

What’s it for?

If we work with ESOL learners, the Starting Points allows us to focus on seven important areas that:

provide support for working out how to read and write words (decoding written words, forming letters, and writing or encoding words) to enable learners to access and work within the first steps of the learning progressions.

They represent critical skills and knowledge that are essential for supporting adult literacy development.

Without these skills and knowledge, it is unlikely a learner could advance significantly through the progressions for reading and writing (Starting Points, p. 3).

What is it?

It’s not represented by grid with strands and steps like the Learning Progressions. This is because the skills and knowledge are closely related and cross over.

Here are the seven knowledge areas:

  • Listening vocabulary. This includes the words a person recognises when they hear them in spoken language.
  • Phonological awareness. This refers to a learner’s ability to hear, recognise, and use the sounds that make up spoken words.
  • Sound-letter relationships. This is ability to make connections between sounds and the letters that represent them.
  • Print and word concepts. This refers to the rules that govern the use of the written language.
  • Letter formation. This relates to how well someone can form letters so they can write down words.
  • Environmental print. This refers to the words and images found out and about. This can include billboards, advertising, signs and labels.
  • High-interest words. These are words that are personally important that learners might recognise on sight. An example would be someone’s own name or a brand like McDonalds.

How is it relevant?

The ESOL Starting Points will not be relevant for everyone. For example, if you are teaching a trades or vocational training programme it’s unlikely that you will need to use the Starting Points.

However, if you are teaching a workplace literacy programme that involves new migrants, refugees, or other pre-literate learners then the Starting Points could be very relevant and useful.

What does it mean for me?

If you do have low-level ESOL learners, you will probably need to use the Starting Points reading assessment. This is part of the LNAAT.

If you’re unsure about this it could be a good idea to talk to the person in your organisation that administers the Literacy and Numeracy for Adults Assessment Tool (LNAAT).

This assessment generates a report similar to the one’s we looked at earlier for the Literacy Progressions. For some courses, such as workplace literacy, doing this assessment will be a condition of your funding.

NCALNE (Voc): Essential But Not Sufficient

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Skip this post unless you manage foundation tutors or work as a tutor in the adult literacy and numeracy sector.

Here’s the question:

  • Will the NCALNE training help my organisation develop more mature embedded literacy and numeracy practices?

Here’s the answer:

  • Yes. It’s a great start. But it’s the beginning of the journey. Not the end.

The criteria above have been out for a couple of years now. And the NCALNE training and credentials will help your tutors and your organisation move from emergent practices, towards more mature embedded literacy and numeracy practices.

I’ll do a breakdown of this with more detail as to what and how at some stage. But that will be a different post.

Just remember: the NCALNE on its own is not a silver bullet. You need to have full organisations support to get the kind of mature practice that the TEC describe in the table above.

Some further ideas:

  • What about measuring literacy and numeracy gains over a much longer time period.
  • What about measuring changes in what tutors actually do?
  • Think about what milestones tutors have to reach before you start to see improvements in learner outcomes? For example, NCALNE (Voc) plus… stuff: resources, organisational support, ongoing professional development.

The table is here below if you’re looking for a PDF version to share or print.

Hat Tip: Thanks, Damon Whitten for the wording in the heading and some of the ideas here.

Gamification 101: How To Turn The Course I Teach Into A Game


Technical stuff is hard to teach. This is because it’s… well… technical. As a trainer you have to work hard to make things understandable.

One way to do this is to turn it into a game. Or a series of games.

I’m interested in this at the moment because I’m experimenting with Cashflow 101. This is a game that teaches financial literacy.

My goal is to gamify the course and qualification that I teach. I want to incorporate some teaching of the concepts people need. But I want most of the emphasis to be on the game play.

I haven’t given up on my idea for Tutoropoly or some kind of cooperative board game where players have to work together to collectively win (or lose).

But I thought I’d tackle something a bit easier first. So I’ve devised a prototype. It’s more of a card game. And much easier to design and play.


The purpose of the game is to get people using the vocabulary that we use when we talk about our stuff. It’s kind of teacher vocabulary. It’s not very interesting to civilians. But it is the language of our trade.


So far, I’ve produced a paper version of the card game. We’ve had a couple of goes at this at home. The game play is Fish. But the next iteration will incorporate a few rules from Canasta to liven things up.

If I get around the finishing it, I might post the templates here. Anyone interested in a copy? Let me know in the comments.

Literacy & Numeracy Jobs Wanted: Setting Up LN Job Board


Are you looking for staff with literacy and numeracy expertise and credentials?

If you have a literacy and numeracy related job to advertise, I will post it here for free. The same thing applies if you are looking for a contractor or consulting expertise relating to adult literacy and numeracy.

At the moment, I am only interested in jobs offered, not jobs wanted.

This is an experiment… And I’m happy to give it some time and energy thanks to the responses I got the other day (check out the comment section if you’re interested).

For the present time, I’m happy to post any literacy and numeracy related positions, jobs or contract work. I will post positions for literacy and numeracy related work in New Zealand, Australia, for online or remote work, and internationally if I get them.

This includes work where the job is for someone who is a dual professional, e.g. a specialist in some content area other than numeracy and literacy, but who has the skills to embed literacy and numeracy into that content. NCALNE qualified trades trainers and vocational tutors fall into this category.

And of course, I’ll post jobs that are for literacy and numeracy specialists.

Terms and conditions are whatever I feel like at the time and I reserve the right not to publish your company’s job or position if I think it’s dodgy or breaches my sense of ethics or any other rules I make up at any later stage.

Possible ideas for job postings could include any or all of these:

  • Vocational and trade-related training at levels 1 and 2 where literacy and numeracy are embedded.
  • Workplace Literacy (WPL) and numeracy education.
  • Intensive literacy and numeracy (ILN).
  • Adult literacy and numeracy education including professional development and related employment or contract work.
  • Any other foundation learning focused training where literacy and numeracy are required or desired.
  • Any management, support, coordination, or consulting positions where the focus is on supporting tutors or trainers in any of the roles above.

How do I do I get a job posted here?

For the present time, if you want to post a job here you can leave a message in the comment section of this blog post (or any post on my blog), and we’ll work out how to exchange the info.

I’ll probably ask you for the following:

  1. An relevant image that I can upload, e.g. your company logo or branding.
  2. The text for the job advertisement.
  3. An expiry date for the post.
  4. A commitment to answer any questions that people leave on the site regarding the job.
  5. A commitment to come back and comment when or if the position is filled.

I’ll probably just post your text “as is” but I also reserve the right to edit it or make comments as well.

If you think this is useful to someone, particularly someone in management who might not regularly see my blog, please consider sharing this post with them via one of the sharing buttons below. Or just message them with the short link to this page:

If I get any traction with this I may revisit my idea for some kind of voluntary “opt in” register of LN credentialed professionals who are currently active. Thanks for the support so far.

Pathways Awarua is for educators: Share this video with someone today…!

Pathways Awarua is a great free resource for learners and educators. Do you know someone that could benefit from improving their reading and maths? There’s a short video here explaining how they can use this free resource.

Are you an educator or do you know someone who is? If your answer is yes, you need to watch the video above. Instructions on how to sign up as an educator are here.

There are more videos on the Pathways Awarua website here.

Gill is the project leader for Pathways Awarua. In this video, especially for tutors, trainers and employers, she explains the aims and purpose of Pathways Awarua and how it can be effectively used within education and training programmes.

For more on our own collaboration with Pathways Awarua on the NCALNE (Voc) professional development you can have a look here.

How do I get started on Assessment 3 of the NCALNE (Voc) including Mapping with the Learning Progressions?

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If you need a hand getting cracking on your Assessment 3, which involves doing an analysis of the literacy and numeracy demands of your course, there are several resources online that might be useful:

  • If you haven’t seen it already, all of our course content is now online in interactive modules as part of the Pathways Awarua NCALNE. There are instructions here on how to register if you haven’t already. It’s free. We also have a unique ALEC join code, so email ( us for that if you want it.
  • 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.
  • I’ve also got a short post here on my blog on how to get started mapping literacy and numeracy demands.
  • And then there are the video clips available here on our Youtube Channel related to mapping and assessment 3.
  • 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.
  • 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 3.
Otherwise, give us a call to discuss (0800-ALEC-1-2) or email us ( and we’ll be in touch to help explain or clarify.
Num Strand

How to get started on Assessment Task 1 of the NCALNE (Voc): The New Zealand context


UPDATED FOR 2015: Please go here.

If you need to complete the NCALNE (Voc) and you’re having trouble getting started (or even if you’re not!), here’s your special care package:

  1. Make sure that you are registered to use Pathways Awarua. The latest version of our entire ALEC course for the NCALNE (Voc) is now online in the Pathways Awarua platform. It’s free to register if you haven’t already. There are instructions here on what to do to register. Once you’ve registered you’ll probably have to complete a couple of short modules on how to use the Pathways platform and then you’ll have access to all of the content modules for the NCALNE (Voc) as well as two of the Assessment modules. We can unlock the rest of the Assessments once (or if) your course fees have been paid. If you want to know more about how the NCALNE (Voc) works on Pathways watch this short YouTube Clip.
  2. Don’t forget to check what’s in your ALEC Study Guide and Assessment Guide. It’s easy to overlook this, but your Study Guide, Assessment Guide, and any readings that we’ve sent you contain everything that you need to complete the assessment for this part of the course.
  3. Familiarise yourself with the requirements for Assessment 1. You can listen to me talking through the assessment tasks in short audio-only podcasts here on my blog. All the assessment podcasts are on the same page on my blog so scroll down to the audio for Assessment 1, click it and listen to it. If you have a smart phone these podcasts will run on your phone if you have a data plan or are in Wi-fi. These audio files are also in the Pathways Awarua Assessment Modules.
  4. Ask yourself the following questions as you work your way through the material. 
    • Definitions: What are the established definitions for adult literacy and numeracy? What’s an embedded approach? What about from a Maori perspective?
    • Initiatives: What are some of the historic and current initiatives that are relevant to your training and learners?
    • Reasons and impact: Why do we have low levels of adult literacy and numeracy? And what’s the impact of this on learners, study, work, communities, industry, and the nation?
    • Resources: What resources are out there to help strengthen adult literacy and numeracy?
    • Recommendations? What do you think would make a difference? What would you suggest to address the issues around low adult literacy and numeracy in relation to your work?
  5. Watch the short YouTube clips on the New Zealand Context on our ALEC Youtube Channel. You can access the playlist for Assessment 1 here.
  6. Work your way through the Module 1 on the New Zealand Context in Pathways Awarua. You’ll have to do some reading and a little bit of writing, but there are some interactions as well. Working your way through this module will set you up for the assessment task. This content is mostly the same as the ALEC Study Guide for the NCALNE (Voc). It updates it in a few places.
  7. There’s the brief overview of Literacy and Numeracy in New Zealand by John Benseman. It’s a PDF download that you can find here.
  8. Read up on the various TEC funded national initiatives that support literacy and numeracy. Full text is here from the TEC in their own words.
  9. Find out more about the State of the Nation with regards to national literacy and numeracy surveys including the current PIAAC and the 2006 ALLS.
  10. Get started on Assessment Task 1: You’ve got two choices here. EITHER you can click on the Assessment Module 1 in Pathways Awarua and do it online. The Assessment modules are below the orange ribbon (the content modules are above the ribbon). OR you can work from the template in the ALEC Assessment Guide. Email us here if you want a copy of the template:
  11. Get in touch if you have any questions. If you’re not sure what to do then get in touch with us. Again, send an email to or ring or txt me. My phone number is in the course materials as well. Happy to talk anytime. We can support you further with:
    • Guidance around how to write a report
    • Some models in terms of what we’re expecting for your response
    • Extra information as needed

Can you think of anything else…? Let me know in the comments.

NZDipALN: Module 1 Content – The Educator as Facilitator

The educator as facilitator

What do we mean by the educator as facilitator?

One of the characteristics of adult education is the idea of the teacher as learning facilitator. This means that as educators we need to go beyond traditional transactional ideas of teaching and learning and look to other models, such as the reciprocal tuakana-teina approach found in Maori education, for example.

Learning facilitators know how to draw on the existing knowledge of adult learners, assess what their needs are, and then find a way to bridge any knowledge and skill gaps. This fundamentally different to more traditional school-based approaches.

As facilitators we need to wear a lot of different hats. Here are just a few of them. In general, the ideal adult education facilitator is someone who is

  1. A lifelong learner themselves.
  2. A good communicator and a team player.
  3. An expert in their own trade or vocational training area.
  4. Able to use a range of different learning methods, styles, and techniques.
  5. A motivator.
  6. Able to deal with groups with people of different abilities.

As an adult literacy and numeracy educator and facilitator, there is also an expectation that you have another set of more specialised skills as well. This means that you are someone who can:

  • Understand different adult literacy and numeracy issues and contexts.
  • Assess adult learners literacy and numeracy needs including mapping demands and carrying out diagnostic processes.
  • Design adult literacy and numeracy skills development in the context of your subject area expertise, training programme, or work.
  • Deliver embedded literacy and numeracy outcomes using a range of adult literacy and numeracy teaching strategies and activities.
  • Assess learner gains for relevant embedded literacy and numeracy skill areas.
  • Evaluation the effectiveness of your embedded literacy and numeracy approach.

Watch the video

In our context in Aotearoa New Zealand, we have a number of unique frameworks to draw from the world of Maori education and learning.

Consider the role of the educator as facilitator as well as metaphors for embedding literacy and numeracy from weaving in this video describing how the participants work together to create the panel.

Professional reading

As a learning facilitator, it’s your role to support and guide your learners as they actively make meaning for themselves. We call this approach constructivism and it underpins many of our ideas about the educator as facilitator.

Review the questions below then read the excerpt

  1. What is the facilitator or educator’s role in the constructivist approach?
  2. Why is it important for the educator to get the learners thinking about how they are learning?
  3. What makes for better adult teaching practice? Trying to get learners to memorise or teaching them rules and processes?

Adult learners develop expertise by building on their existing knowledge, skills and experiences.

Research findings

Learners actively construct knowledge as they make sense of new information and experiences by extending or changing their current ideas and understandings (schema). A constructivist approach to teaching and learning focuses on supporting learners to develop expertise through meaningful learning experiences that build on their existing knowledge. (This is in contrast to a behaviourist approach where skills and knowledge are developed through reinforcement.)

Within this approach, the role of the tutor is to support individuals to actively construct meaning for themselves.

… taking a constructivist approach to building knowledge and skills focuses on helping students develop their understanding and make sense of the world (Bingman & Stein, 2001, p. 19).

Instruction is aimed at developing a “richly structured knowledge base” (Gillespie, 2002, p. 2) by activating prior knowledge and building on the schema learners have. The connections between areas of learning are valued and emphasis is given to the ways in which different areas of content are related.

Teaching is deliberately focused on supporting learners to develop control over strategies by ensuring they have a sound and secure knowledge base. As learners develop expertise in a field they become increasingly aware of the key concepts and/or strategies that help them to structure and utilise their knowledge.

As they develop expertise, learners can be supported to develop metacognitive strategies similar to those used by experts to monitor and control their own thinking processes. Assisting learners to develop and measure their success by reflecting on what they have learnt helps them to take responsibility for their learning and develop independent learning and study skills. It also assists them to adapt their knowledge and skills for different contexts or problems (transfer).

To support adults to learn by building on their existing knowledge and experiences, tutors require a sound conceptual understanding of their subject area and an appreciation of the ways in which different aspects of learning within their area are related. Effective teachers of literacy and/or numeracy possess deep knowledge of the ways in which expertise in these areas is developed and, in particular, of how learners build metacognition that enables them to become independent and to transfer their skills to new contexts.

Implications for practice

Teaching and learning approaches that effectively build on adults’ existing knowledge and skills:

  • acknowledge and value learners’ existing knowledge by supporting them to identify
  • their current understandings and investigate these in the process of building their
  • expertise
  • are focused on the development of conceptual understandings and flexible strategy
  • use rather than the memorisation of facts, rules or procedures
  • develop reflective and critical thinking and reasoning
  • utilise teaching and learning activities that are relevant and meaningful to learners
  • make explicit links between areas of learning
  • support learners to reflect on their own learning in order to gain increased control over
  • their own thinking processes and develop independent study skills, and
  • promote the development of conceptual knowledge among tutors.

References: Anderson, 2004; Askew, et al., 1997; Bingman & Stein, 2001; Cobb, 1994; Coben, 2003; Fosnot, 1996; Gillespie, 2002; Ma, 1999; Piaget, 1978; Swain, et al., 2005; von Glasersfeld, 1995.

Journal task

Choose one aspect of our approach to strengthening literacy and numeracy from the table below. Write at least 100 words about how your thoughts on the educator as facilitator underpin this aspect of how teach. Consider what you actually think and do about this.

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