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.

What can you actually do if your tutors are not embedding literacy and numeracy as well as they should be?


Well that’s a curly question…

The other day I reposted part of a transcript between a prosecuting lawyer and the CEO of large tertiary organisation. It was one of the scariest things that I’ve read in this field all year.

Spoiler Alert: In case you didn’t realise, it was fiction.

But I didn’t realise that when I read through it the first time. I had to ask writer and education blogger Damon Whitten who it was. You can read the whole thing here on Damon’s blog (minus the shock value).

Afterwards, (once I had recovered from the near heart attack) I realised that Damon had made me really start thinking hard about what managers and others could actually do to fix their organisations if things weren’t the way the should be.

Professional development is obviously key, but here aren’t any easy answers. Luckily though, Damon had already been working on this as well. Like I said, you should read his whole post here, but one of the things that he advocates is having a really robust system of observing tutors.

I’d really recommend you click through and read the whole thing, but if you’re just too lazy or busy here’s my reductionist bullet point summary.

How to set up a robust system of observing tutors that is safe and effective

  1. Select an experienced, trusted, and respected staff member. Or distribute the tasks to all staff members.
  2. Ensure that tutors know it’s not about checking up on people, but that it is about developing skills, improving performance, and providing positive feedback.
  3. Address concerns.
  4. Give rewarding and encouraging feedback to participants and ask them what they could have done to improve.
  5. Ensure findings are confidential and anonymous.
  6. Summarise findings for management into themes that cannot be traced back to particular tutors.
  7. Circulate the broad findings with tutors first and ask for feedback.
  8. Finalise the report and present to management.
  9. Repeat at key milestones through the year.
  10. Design professional development based on themes that emerge over the long term

The scariest thing I’ve read all year about literacy and numeracy provision and funding…


There’s not much that catches me off guard these days. However, this did. I’ve posted in a section of it below. You need to go to here to get the rest.

McDonell: I’m going to be asking you questions pertaining to two different but related areas.  The first is to gain clarifications regarding your organisations’ definition of embedded literacy and numeracy and the process you took to verify that this aligned with your funders’ definition.  Second, what actions you took regarding your quality control measures for your organisations’ embedding of literacy and numeracy into your level one and two programmes.

CEO: Understood.

McDonell: Please explain what your Organisations’ understanding of embedded literacy and numeracy is?

CEO:  We have experts who are well grounded in the details.  My role does not require in-depth knowledge of ELN, only that systems are in place to ensure it is.  My understanding of ELN is that literacy and numeracy delivery is integrated into programme delivery.

McDonell: Are you aware that the TEC had released (some time ago) a document that defines its’ high level expectations for embedded literacy and numeracy?

CEO:  I was not.

McDonell: What efforts did your organisation take to ensure it’s understanding of ELN was correct to ensure compliance with funding criteria that you were receiving?

CEO: We have specialist staff members who’s role it is to stay updated.

McDonell: And it was these, or this, staff members role to ensure the entire organisations’ level one and two programmes were aware of the definition and were compliant with it?

CEO:  Yes.

McDonell:  And you assume your staff are aware of the definition, and subsequent expectation for their provision of ELN?

CEO:  Yes.

McDonell:  Well, we are compiling their responses to a questionnaire, and interviews,  as we speak.  We can review the findings tomorrow.  For now, let’s continue.

McDonell:  Can you please explain your organisations’ process for determining the quality of your embedded literacy and numeracy provision, or even if it was occurring?

CEO: We acquisitioned a staff member to implement ELN across the organisation and ensure tutors were embedding literacy and numeracy.

McDonell:  Can you explain to the house the criteria for selection of the staff member for the position?

CEO: The individual had experience with ELN and was an experienced staff member

McDonell: In what way?

CEO: Sorry?

Go here for the rest of The Inquiry



New from the TEC: Embedded Literacy and Numeracy Practices

Whole organisation components ELN practicecomponents Emergent embedded practice includes: Partial embedded practice includes: Mature embedded practice includes:




Teaching, learning and assessment

Use of Learning Progressions Using the Learning Progressions to inform teaching and learning practice. Using the Learning Progressions to map programmes and courses and to inform teaching and learning programmes. Literacy & numeracy demands of all NZQF Level 1 – 3 programmes and courses are well documented and written in terms of the Learning Progressions.

Use of Assessment Tool

Using the Assessment Tool pre- and post- programme at the learner level to inform teaching and learning programmes or individual learning plans. Using the Assessment Tool pre- and post-programme at the learner level to inform teaching and learning programmes and individual learning plans; engage learners with results; monitor learner progress; report to other relevant staff. Using the Assessment Tool pre- and post- programme at the learner level to inform teaching and learning programmes and individual learning plans; engage learners with results; monitor learner progress; report to other relevant staff.Using the Assessment Tool information at the organisational level to improve ELN practice and learner success.
 ELN in vocational programmes and courses Starting to embed literacy & numeracy into vocational programmes through a review and rewrite of course materials. Progressing of embedding literacy & numeracy into vocational programmes through a review and rewrite of most course materials and provision of some professional development to staff. Embedding literacy & numeracy into vocational programmes is evident in course materials, teaching and learning practice, and self-evaluation processes for ELN quality.

Human resources and professional learning


Professional Development and extent of literacy & numeracy qualifications

Some vocational teaching staff either have or are working towards literacy & numeracy qualifications.Some staff have attended professional development. At least half of all vocational teaching staff either have or are working towards literacy & numeracy qualifications.Most staff attend continuing professional development for ELN.

Recruitment and staff training policies require qualified literacy & numeracy staff.

Majority of vocational staff have or are working towards literacy & numeracy qualifications. (Within some TEOs this is an organisational requirement.)ELN is adequately resourced to support learning, teaching, resource development and on-going ELN development.

The continuing professional learning programme ensures all staff understand the ELN strategy and have the necessary knowledge and skills to perform their roles.

Continuing professional learning includes a variety of internal and external needs-based professional development.


Vision, aims and outcomes


Organisational approach to literacy  & numeracy

No strategic approach to ELN at the organisational level. Having ELN policies at the programme level.Using Assessment Tool results at programme level.

Developing organisational awareness of ELN.

Having quality ELN as ‘business as usual’ within programmes.

A written strategy describes the whole organisation’s approach to ELN.An operational plan(s) with clear roles and responsibilities ensures implementation of ELN.

A valid, consistent and transparent system in place to measure learners’ literacy & numeracy progress includes using the Assessment Tool.

Quality ELN is becoming ‘business as usual’ within the whole organisation.

Staff contributing to the ELN knowledge base at regional/national level.

This is some of the latest from the TEC: Thoughts anyone…?