How to write your own learning outcome for embedding writing

Strategies (20)

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 writing skills you want to teach and assess.










purpose and audience strategies

spelling strategies

everyday vocabulary

academic vocabulary

technical vocabulary

language and text features

planning and composing tools and strategies

revising and editing tools and strategies

in the context of…

Strategy: How to write your own strategy for embedding writing

Strategies (7)

This time you need to create your own strategy for embedding writing into your programme.

You can Download our worksheet for this here if you need it.

  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 writing skills you want to concentrate on.

I will: Teach my learners to write to communicate with a focus on…

how to use purpose and audience strategies,

how to use spelling strategies,

everyday vocabulary,

academic vocabulary,

technical vocabulary,

how to use language and text features,

how to use planning and composing tools and strategies,

how to use revising and editing tools and strategies

in the context of… (add your own programme here)

Demands: What are some specific writing demands?

If you’ve got the hang of the mapping, feel free to skip ahead and get on with mapping the writing demands in Assessment 3. You’re up to section 3.4.

If you do skip ahead and you get stuck, you can always come back here and have a look in more detail.

Otherwise, we’re going to walk you through mapping writing demands for a sample from your programme. Here’s the most important thing:

  • The content area is different, but the process for mapping writing is the same as for mapping reading.

1. Print out the Write to Communicate strand.

Make sure you have the Write to Communicate strand in front of you so you can refer to the details for each step. Sure you can have the PDF on your computer, but some things are just easier to refer to in print.

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

Screenshot 2017-03-21 08.40.20

2. Choose a specific sample writing 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. Choose a task where your learners have to write. This might include reading, but the focus should be writing.

Here are some examples of samples that you could choose where your learners have to write:

  • Summarising something or writing a description of something.
  • Writing an explanation of something in their own words to show understanding.
  • An assessment where they have to write sentences or paragraphs.
  • Filling in a complicated form such as a timesheet or vehicle logbook.
  • Completing an accident report with sufficient details.
  • Completing health and safety compliance documents such as completing a risk assessment in a workplace
  • Keeping a diary of weather or daily activities
  • Writing instructions for others to follow.

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

Like we said earlier,  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.

And as with the work that you did mapping reading, we’re going to start with the vocabulary progression here as well.

For trades or employment focused training, it’s safe to start at around step 4/5 for writing. Look at the description for vocabulary at step 4/5.

You’ll see the following:

“… have a specialised writing vocabulary related to a range of topics”.

Vocabulary – Most adults will be able to

Koru / step 1 use a range of everyday, highly familiar words and phrases to write simple texts.
Koru / step 2 have a writing vocabulary that is adequate for communicating meaning in everyday writing tasks
Koru / step 3 have an extended writing vocabulary related to their personal, work and community tasks
Koru / step 4 – 5 have a specialised writing vocabulary related to a range of topics
Koru / step 6 Have an extensive writing vocabulary of everyday and specialised words that relate to a wide range of topics and contexts

5. Use what you know about your own subject

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 write any specialised words. These could be trade-specific words, or other jargon that relates to your programme.

If your answer was no, that is, there are no specialised words, then you need to drop back to step 3 or 2 and see if either of those steps 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.

If you work in trades, your material is probably at least at step 3 and most likely at step 4/5.

It might be the case that there is not very much writing in your programme. If this is true, then have a look at what writing there is, and in particular look at assessment tasks that require writing.

If it’s work-related, but you don’t need to see specialised terminology then it’s going to be step 3. If you want your learners to write using the jargon of your trade, then it’s specialised and that makes it step 4 / 5.

As we said last time, 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 2017-03-21 08.40.36

Now, we’ve mapped the vocabulary demands for writing at steps 4 / 5.

DOWNLOAD Writing Demands Worksheet for mapping your own writing sample. It’s exactly the same as section 3.4 of your assessment task. Print this out and you can use it as a rough draft and for notes.

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

Once you’ve mapped vocabulary, you can move on to the other progressions. The system is the same as what you did before. For each relevant progression:

  • Start somewhere in the middle of the steps – say around step 3.
  • Read the description in 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.

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

Screenshot 2017-03-21 08.40.54

Once again, this is mapping in visual terms. You need to be able to talk about your results and what they mean.

As with each of your samples, you’ll need to answer a series of questions to show that you understand what you’ve just done.

These questions are in the assessment template and in the worksheet if you download it:

  • 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?

As before, there are prompts in the template to help you answer the questions. Feel free to ignore them, 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 writing text and answer the questions, you can move onto the next module.

Make sure you keep your sample handy, though. You’ll need to scan it and upload it when you submit your completed assessment task.

Developing a Writing Frame For Report Writing

How to write your Task 1 report - NCALNE (Voc) Assessment 1 Report Structure

A while back I redeveloped the writing frame we use to teach people how to write their report for the first part of our course.

If you want a better copy of this to print out, there is a PDF version you can download here.

I contextualised the writing frame above to the content that we teach in the first part of the course. But you can adapt this idea to your own context.

My students need to write a 1500 word report. This means that the writing frame is complicated. It’s very possible to create much simpler writing frames for much less demanding tasks.

An interesting aside (at least for me) is that this handout condenses a one semester course that I use to teach at the University of Auckland.

How To Improve Your Writing? Use the Hemingway App


My daughter told me she’s just started using an app called Hemingway to help her edit her writing.

I’d heard of it before, but never tried it. It sounded like a glorified spell checker.

And it turns out it is.

But it’s cool and I like it. A lot.

I used the free online version to to edit my last blog post. And now I’ve downloaded the desktop app which costs $9.99 and I used it to write this post.

If I was still teaching academic writing, I could think of a dozen applications for this in a computer lab.

What a great little application and I’d encourage you to have a play with it here. There’s also more info available here.

You can toggle the editing functions on and off for a distraction free environment if you want.

I’ve posted in a couple of screen shots below so you can see how it works. The first shot is of this post, which you can see is plain English.

Screenshot 2015-08-19 13.47.10

The second screen shot shows an earlier blog post of mine. You can see  my long winded writing style highlighted in various colours.

Screenshot 2015-08-19 13.50.20

Disclaimer: I have no affiliation with this company

Using the online vocab profiler – Part 5 (Sample you can download)


Here’s the last part… You can review how I put together my new vocabulary diagnostic via these links or just read through below and download the sample if you want to modify it.

  1. My outline is here.
  2. The initial results from the vocabulary profiling software are here.
  3. The way that I generated some useable word lists is here.
  4. And the complete sentences that I adapted are here.

You can download this as a word document here: Assessment4SampleVocabDiagnostic

Sample Vocabulary Diagnostic Assessment


  1. The children were arg__________ over which TV programme to watch.
  2. You must che__________ the evidence against other sources and decide if it is reliable.
  3. Residents are com__________ because traffic in the area has increased.
  4. If my calculations are cor__________, we’re about 10 kilometres from Christchurch.
  5. The statement gives us a fal__________ impression that we understand something when we do not.
  6. You can gue__________ what happened next.
  7. Many wines imp__________ with age.
  8. Make a lis__________ of all the things you have to do.
  9. She received an eight-year prison sen__________.
  10. Pupils should know how to spe__________ commonly used words.


  1. Aroha ach__________ very good exam results.
  2. She still needs to ana__________ the data.
  3. Crime rates are significantly higher in urban are__________.
  4. Dealing with people is the most important asp__________ of my work.
  5. It’s clear that the company has a bia__________ against women and minorities.
  6. One hyp__________ is that the victim fell asleep while driving.
  7. Water is com__________ of hydrogen and oxygen.
  8. The study dem__________ the link between low literacy and poor health.
  9. The newspaper edi__________ letters before printing them
  10. You should be able to eva__________ your own work.


  1. I noticed that he spoken with a slight American acc__________.
  2. NATO is an acr__________ for the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.
  3. Aff__________ are a group of letters added to the beginning or end of a word to change its meaning or use, such as ‘un-‘, ‘mis-‘, ‘-ness’, or ‘-ly’
  4. We arranged the documents in chr__________ order.
  5. Coh__________ refers to a close relationship, based on grammar or meaning, between two parts of a sentence or a larger piece of writing.
  6. Coll__________ refers to the way in which some words are often used together, or a particular combination of words used in this way.
  7. As a university student he had studied education and cog__________ psychology.
  8. Ell__________ is when words are deliberately left out of a sentence, though the meaning can still be understood.
  9. The noun ‘bear’ and the verb ‘bear’ are hom__________; that is, they have the same spelling and sound the same, but the meaning for each is different.
  10. A rim__________ is the part of a syllable which consists of its vowel and any consonant sounds that come after it, such as “it” in the word “split”

If you found the sample useful or any part of the process helpful, please let me know in the comments. Cheers, Graeme

Designing embedded literacy project work for independent learning – revised structure

Ind Learning

Yesterday, I outlined my rough ideas for a generic integrated project template that would bring together unit standards 26622 and 26624 with some kind of narrowly focused content.

The purpose is to design an independent learning project template that would help tutors and learners (and in my case home school parents and older home school students) start to put together evidence portfolios for assessment and credit towards the core literacy and numeracy unit standards that they need for NCEA and other qualifications.

These projects should work with trades-focused training as well as with other subject areas or topics of interest.

The main point is that the reading and writing around a particular topic or interest or specific area in the curriculum becomes the opportunity to develop reading and writing skills.This is the embedded part.

In other words, it’s not about doing reading and writing for their own sake, but doing them in the context of something else, for example an independent investigation or inquiry project around some aspect of training or study undertaken by the learner.

This type of independent work won’t suit every learner, obviously. However, it will suit some. And it should help create opportunities to develop independent learning outside of the regular training or classroom environment.

Anyway, I’ve revised the structure that I brainstormed yesterday. Here’s what I’m looking at now:


  1. Negotiate the project
  2. Assign reading 1
  3. Assign reading 2
  4. Ensure both texts are at or above step 4 in the reading strand
  5. Administer a pre-assessment for vocabulary items if appropriate
  6. Discuss prior knowledge
  7. Front load any relevant new words or concepts
  8. Clarify the project outcomes


  1. Reading: First time through the text
    • Predict
    • Read
    • Identify and record problem words
    • Identify and record explicit information in the text
    • Make notes
  2. Reading: Second time through the text
    • Read
    • Identify and record implicit ideas in the text
    • Identify and explain writer’s purpose
    • Evaluate the text in terms of one of usefulness, interest, validity, credibility
  3. Writing
    • Identify appropriate writing frame, structure, or model
    • Plan (brainstorm, mind map, organise, categorise, and outline)
    • Compose
    • Revise and edit using an editing checklist
    • Produce final digital version
    • Optional: Publish to blog

From there normal assessment mechanisms can kick in if they are required. Next up… hopefully, some prototype templates and further guidelines.