How to write your own learning outcomes for embedding number

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For Number

You can do this yourself or download the worksheet here.


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





Demonstrate how to use

strategies to solve addition and subtraction problems

strategies to multiplication and division problems

strategies to solve problems involving fractions, decimals and percentages

strategies to solve problems involving proportions, ratios, and rates

number sequence knowledge

place value knowledge

number facts knowledge

in the context of…

What are learning outcomes?

Strategies (15).jpg

Now we need to shift our gaze from the broad, high-level strategies you’ve been working on for your whole programme. Your broad strategies for embedding are the “big picture”.

Now, imagine you’re switching from wide angle lens to zoom on a camera. Your next three assessments require you to do some assessing and some teaching. To do this well, we need to zoom in much closer.

You’re going to zoom in by developing some very specific learning outcomes to guide your planning, assessing and teaching.

But before we launch into writing learning outcomes, here’s a quick heads up of what’s left to finish your training.

After this assessment, you’ll learn to do the following:

  1. BEFORE you teach: Use diagnostic assessment including the Literacy and Numeracy for Adults Assessment Tool
  2. TEACHING: Plan and facilitate the kind of embedded activities that your learners need for your training.
  3. AFTER you teach: Measure learner progress

Each of these stages in the embedding process needs to be highly focused. The way we focus here is through writing very specific learning outcomes.

Each stage, whether it’s a diagnostic assessment, your teaching activities, or some kind of progress assessment is guided by your learning outcomes. These are your road map. They keep you on track and ensure that you focus on the things that you’ve identified as important.

But first:

  • What is a learning outcome?

The term learning outcome is shortened from intended learning outcome. A learning outcome is a short statement that says:

  • What you expect learners to be able to do at the end of the learning.

You already wrote a short statement that summed up your broad strategy for embedding literacy and numeracy. With your strategies, you’re looking at the whole of your programme.

With learning outcomes, you’re looking at teaching and assessing some specific aspect of literacy and numeracy.

Demands: Understanding what the numeracy progressions are…

Knowing the demands (11)

What are the big picture numeracy demands?

By identifying the most important literacy progressions for your own teaching situation, you’ve started to map the big picture demands. Now we need to do the same thing for numeracy.

By the end of this module, you should have some ideas about:

  • Which numeracy strands are relevant for your teaching.
  • Which progressions from these strands are relevant.

As with literacy, not everything here is going to be relevant. And as with literacy, we need to make sure that you:

  1. Understand what each numeracy progression is in plain English.
  2. Can eliminate any progressions that are not relevant.
  3. Identify which numeracy progressions are important for your teaching and programme and know why.

And just like with the literacy demands, we have a task for you to work on that will help you focus on the key numeracy demands for your programme.

Understanding what the numeracy progressions are

The numeracy progressions don’t repeat themselves like the literacy progressions. Instead, there is a distinct set of progressions for each numeracy strand.

You can probably guess many of them, but here are some plain English explanations.

Make Sense of Number to Solve Problems

Additive Strategies

  • Using + and – to solve problems

Multiplicative Strategies

  • Using x and ÷ to solve problems

Proportional Reasoning

  • Using fractions, decimals, %, proportions, ratios, rates to solve problems

Number Sequence

  • Knowing the sequence of numbers forwards and backwards. Includes integers, fractions, decimals, %

Place Value

  • Knowing the place and value of numbers. Includes tens, hundreds, thousands, fractions and decimals adding up to 1. Ordering and converting between fractions, decimals, %.

Number Facts

  • Knowing +, -, x and ÷ facts from memory. Also knowing fraction, decimal, and % facts.

Reason Statistically

Preparing Data

  • Sorting, organising, and representing data for analysis.

Analysing Data

  • Describing and comparing data for interpretation.

Interpreting Data

  • Interpreting and discussing data to predict and conclude


  • Knowing about chance, likelihood, and possible outcomes.

Measure and interpret shape and space

Shapes & Transformations

  • Describing and working with shapes. Includes shapes of two or three dimensions.


  • Working with movement, distance, direction, bearings, grid references, maps, scales.


  • Comparing, ordering and measuring things. Includes using the right tools, systems, formulas, estimates and conversions.

What’s under the hood? Frameworks for teaching better


As well as knowing what we mean when we use words like embedding and literacy or numeracy, we also need to know what kind of thinking sits behind these concepts.

Getting to this is like popping the bonnet or hood of your car and having a look at what’s underneath. You can drive a car without knowing much about the engine. But it helps if you know a little bit.

In fact, there are at least a couple of times when you do want to know a bit more about how things work. Every car needs a service from time to time. The more you know about how your car works, the more likely you’ll be able to keep things running smoothly. And that brings us to the second thing.

Sometimes, you need to change things. This might be to make things run better or to stop things from breaking down. Either way, teaching better means looking at how things run beneath the surface.

This means your personal approach at the end of the day. More on that in the next module. But first, we need to dig into the different kinds of thinking that underpin our ideas about literacy and numeracy.

These different ways of thinking about teaching and about literacy or numeracy are called frameworks. And we’re going to look at five of them.

  • The Learning Progressions for Adult Literacy
  • The Learning Progressions for Adult Numeracy
  • Te Whare Tapawha
  • Fonofale Pan Pasifika
  • ESOL Starting Points

Plain English Definitions for the Literacy Progressions

Lit Progs

I’ve started writing new course content for the new NZCALNE (Voc) – the latest version of our course. I want to revise the definitions that we use to talk about the Learning Progressions for Adult Literacy and Numeracy.

The terminology is confusing for most people. And some of the existing definitions are not very helpful either.

Here’s a list of the literacy progressions below, with my plain English explanations. If this is something that you’re involved with using, either as a tutor or manager, I’d like some feedback.

I want to know if these make sense below. This is still a specialised area, but I’ve tried to use a limited vocabulary, active voice, and no adverbs.

Have I missed any critical aspects of the meanings? If yes, how can I add these without making it sound like rocket science? The audience is trades and vocational tutors who are non-experts in literacy and numeracy.

Here’s the list. Please direct any feedback to the comment section. Thanks…!

Vocabulary Knowing the meanings of words, how to use them, and how they relate to each other.
Language & Text Features Using and understanding language, texts, and parts of texts including speech.
Comprehension Understanding the messages, making connections with what you know, inferring meanings.
Listening Critically Understanding who is speaking and why. Aware of speakers’ purposes and points of view
Interactive Listening & Speaking Taking part in conversations and discussions. This includes taking turns, interrupting in a way that is appropriate and checking meanings.
Using Strategies to Communicate Getting ideas and information across to others in a way that is effective.
Decoding Knowing how to say written words out loud
Reading critically Understanding who wrote something, why, and for whom.
Purpose & Audience Having reasons and goals for writing. Knowing who you are writing for.
Spelling Writing words in a way that is correct and consistent.
Planning & Composing Deciding what to write about. Then recording ideas.
Revising & Editing Making changes and corrections to writing. The aim is that the writing is clear, meets your purpose and engages with the audience.

50 Things You Can Do To Embed Vocabulary Into Training


There are lots of ways to teach and learn new and unfamiliar words. Here’s a list of 50. None of these are new or any kind of rocket science.

All 50 are ways of explicitly teaching vocabulary.

It’s also possible to learn vocabulary through exposure to new vocabulary incidentally. But that’s another thing altogether.

For every item below, you can probably think of several variations. Feel free to post them here as well for others to see.

Also, for every item on the list you could apply it in the following ways:

  • It’s something you do as the teacher, trainer, or facilitator so it becomes part of a sequence of activities that you deliver in a training environment.
  • It’s something you make your learners do with you (or even independently of you) in a training context.
  • Something you do as you design content for yourself or others to use when they deliver training.

Here’s the list:

  1. Brainstorm a bank of technical or relevant high-frequency words for a given category.
  2. Adapt or select from an existing word bank or list of high-frequency words.
  3. Categorise and prioritise words using the Learning Progressions.
  4. Categorise and prioritise words using high-frequency word lists.
  5. Categorise words using semantic groups or categories.
  6. Create contextualised mini-assessments for pre and post testing.
  7. Brainstorm, mind map, and discuss to activate prior knowledge.
  8. Make flash cards.
  9. Make word + plain-English explanation matching activities.
  10. Make word +plain English explanation + example matching activities.
  11. Focus on spelling words people don’t know by using “look, cover, write.”
  12. Focus on decoding words people can’t read aloud by identifying syllables and intonation or word stress.
  13. Complete the word using only first few letters as a prompt.
  14. Complete the sentence using a cloze (gap fill), or partial cloze activity.
  15. Complete the sentence giving two possible correct but different answers.
  16. Write own example sentences using unfamiliar words.
  17. Write own definitions for new or unfamiliar words.
  18. Collaborate with others to write a paragraph using new words.
  19. Complete the definitions.
  20. Pull apart words and look at the meanings of the parts (etymology).
  21. Match synonyms (words that have the same meaning).
  22. Match antonyms (words that have the opposite meaning).
  23. Choose all the possible answers from a list or multiple choice.
  24. Match a word with a context or scenario.
  25. Give an incorrect sentence and ask others to correct the mistake.
  26. Label a picture or diagram.
  27. Cross out a word that doesn’t belong with others in a group.
  28. Create a diagram or a framework for a group of words, concepts or process.
  29. Sort words on a scale or cline.
  30. Identify pairs of words that are similar but different and explain.
  31. Identify which words are slang or not from a group of words.
  32. Discuss connotations for similar words.
  33. Learn strategies for using a dictionary.
  34. Guess an unfamiliar word meaning from context.
  35. Find the words in a text that match a set of given definitions.
  36. Look at different meanings for familiar words.
  37. Identify cause and effect in a text.
  38. Identify opposites or contrasts in a text.
  39. Identify word type (noun, verb, adjective).
  40. Identify synonyms or paraphrases.
  41. Identify examples.
  42. Ask people to “Look for words that mean X”.
  43. Act out the word and make others guess the meaning.
  44. Describe the word without using the word (or a given set of words) and make others guess the meaning.
  45. Draw a picture that represents the word and make others guess.
  46. Make a crossword.
  47. Make a word find.
  48. Adapt a well-known card game.
  49. Adapt a well-known board game.
  50. Dictate a passage to others and make them reconstruct it collaboratively.

Also, for anything on this list you’re going to want to encourage lots of discussion and talking about the process.

TESOL Option for NCALNE (Voc): Anyone Interested?


Here’s another experiment… an NCALNE (Voc) qualification option for experienced and trained teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL).

This might apply to you (or someone you know) if you are in this kind of situation:

  • You teach an ESOL course that is funded by the TEC. Examples might include SAC1 and 2 funded training, Intensive Literacy and Numeracy (ILN), or Workplace Literacy (WPL).
  • A condition of funding is that tutors must have the NCALNE (Voc) qualification.

Our NCALNE (Voc) option for teachers in this context might work for you if you also meet these conditions

  • You have existing TESOL experience and qualifications
  • Your teaching practice includes your own TESOL-specific versions of the kinds of evidence that we’re looking for.
  • You’re prepared to compile a portfolio of this evidence and complete a couple of stand-alone assessments so that we can ensure that you meet all of the qualification requirements.

Interested…? Hit me up in the comments. I’m going to need some people to trial the process and see if it’s viable.