Prepare graduates with numeracy skills for 21st century workplaces

Workers perform sophisticated functions which require them to be confident to use mathematical skills in problem-solving situations and to see the consequences of the mathematics related procedures.” 

(2014. p. 2 Identifying and supporting quantitative skills in 21st century workers )

Workers need to interpret, use, and report mathematical information within most industries and most workplace roles. The change in workplace practice is generating new numeracy demands. To be ready for the 21st century workplace graduates require strong foundation skills – including strong numeracy skills.

This post includes four (4) key messages about numeracy and developing numeracy skills. The first comes from the AIGroup/AAMT report Identifying and supporting quantitative skills in 21st century workers. Followed by a quick reminder about what numeracy involves,  some numeracy-based resources , and numeracy-centred questions to identify the learners’ thinking . Look out for:

  1. Check – what must graduates be aware of, equipped with, and ready to do?
  2. Check your understanding of what numeracy involves
  3. Check out 4 resources that introduce numeracy concepts
  4. Check learners’ numeracy understanding

What must graduates be aware of, equipped with, and ready to do?

The Australian Industry Group and the Australian Association of Mathematics Teachers partnered to explore the mathematics workers do in 11 different industries. The purpose of the project was to:

  • identify numeracy skills used in the workplace
  • identify how these skills were acquired
  • consider how the findings may influence future teaching approaches.

The 21st century workplace needs workers who tune in to the bigger picture of how and where numeracy matters, and how they, the worker, matters to that enterprise. The report providess specific numeracy skills workers are expected to perform – you may be surprised with the range. This is an interesting read. We think it will make you think about if, and how, your graduates demonstrate the skills identified. In summary, gradauates must be:

  • Aware and familiar with a broader expectation of their role and the skill repertoire.
  • Equipped with a strong focus on HOW TO (concepts, strategies and skills). In the head techniques and using tools. Identify when accuracy is critical, or estimation is ok.
  • Ready to use the outcomes to contribute to workplace, provide solutions, use an inquiry approach. THINK about what’s going on here? What is the consequence, who needs to know?

“It is now more important for teachers to consider how they teach rather than what they teach “ (2014. p. 2)

Check your understanding of what  numeracy involves

Is numeracy just the LLN word for mathematics? Most people associate numeracy with the applying mathematical knowledge – the second part of the process (the green circled aspect). But it’s more than that.

Numeracy is influenced by , and situated in Language and Literacy” 

(Dave Tout, 2015 ACER presentation,  How do the L, L and N in LLN intersect? Some connections between language, literacy and numeracy).

The first part of the numeracy process is to interpret. We use our language radar to think what is this about and what is involved? To do this we relate the contet to what we know about the context and information.  We then use literacy skills to read the information and identify key words or details.

The second part of the numeracy process is the use of mathematics – number and calculations – to find out or answer the question. We may use in the head, or paper-based, or calculator techniques.

The third part of the numeracy process is to communicate the solution. To communicate we use our language and literacy skills again. Language skills help us to respond in context and use appropriate words/sentences. Literacy skills enable us to write, speak, or indicate with a diagram the solution.

Check the language and literacy demand required to interpret the numeracy task.

Check out 4 resources that introduce numeracy concepts

Victorian Adult Literacy and basic education council (VALBEC) Beth Marr Introduction series designed for trainers. They offer tips and advice to progress these numeracy aspects:

  • How to get students talking about numeracy
  • Sense of Volume
  • Volume 2: metric units of volume
  • Making sense of fractions
  • Making sense of subtraction
  • Guess, estimate and measure

Khan Academy

Trainers can use this to, check own understanding,  demonstrate concepts to learners, or observe helpful ways to explain concepts. Each mathematics area has practice examples, and a video to explain the concept or process. Learners will need some introduction to navigate the site easily, and their own password.

Learners may need some introduction to navigate the site, and their own password.

Numbers: The context is Construction and plumbing services.  These key mathematics concepts are introduced: calculations, area, volume, ratios and measurement – and include  practice examples.

Fliplets is a hospitality resource with a strong language, literacy and numeracy focus. It can be used to introduce language and literacy across a range of kitchen related aspects.

There are 9 areas – from kitchen types and tools, to measurements, food groups, menus and recipes. Each section has a glossary – visual and audio. No practice examples but the format is is interactive.

Introduce numeracy concepts in context a variety of ways. Follow-up with examples.

Check learners’ understanding

Unpack the numeracy question – ask learners:

  • What exactly is the question asking?
  • What data is involved?
  • What calculations are involved?
  • How confident are you to work this out?

Unpack the working out – ask learners:

  • How did you work this out?
  • Explain what you are doing as you do it.
  • Does this approach make sense?
  • Are there other ways to work this out?
  • How confident are you with the answer?

Make communicating about numeracy the norm

We hope the information, suggestions and resources enable you to help graduates develop strong numeracy skills to equip them for the 21st century worklace.

 

ACSF Pre-Level 1 Supplement: 2016 version

First…
A quick reminder that our very short, online survey closes COB this Monday, 31 October 2016.  The survey asks for your feedback about our site – what works, what doesn’t, and what to feature in 2017.  We’d be grateful for your feedback.

take-survey-now

Thank you!  And now, back to our regularly-scheduled post!

acsf-pre-l1-supp

Hot off the press!

The Department of Education has released a new version of the ACSF Pre-Level 1 Supplement.

This new supplement will make it easier for us to meet needs of our learners.  Learners working at pre-level 1 need time to build skills, and usually progress in small steps.  The new pre-level 1 supplement describes these small—and now more recognisable—steps that learners working at pre-level 1 may take towards pre-level 1 exit level.  This will make it easier for us to more accurately identify, develop and report on the capacity of learners at ACSF pre-level 1, and identify ways to link from pre-level 1 to higher ACSF levels.

Make sure you access the 2016 DET updated version, rather than the previous PDF version

What’s new about this version?

The new ACSF Pre-Level Supplement offers, for each core skill, the same sections and structure as the 5 LLN core skills levels 1 to 5. This includes…

“… a detailed set of Indicators, Focus Areas, Performance Features and Sample Activities by which learner core skill gains can be determined and reported.”

(Department of Education and Training 2016 ACSF Pre-Level 1 Supplement, p1)

Stages are new!

At first glance, it may seem that the pre-level 1 information in this new supplement is presented in the same way as for core skill levels 1 to 5.  But this isn’t quite true.

For the first time, the new ACSF Pre-Level 1 Supplement describes two stages of progress—Stage A and Stage B—to represent the incremental progress learners may make.

The table below explains how each core skill is described in the new ACSF Pre-Level 1 Supplement:

Indicators Indicators are provided for each core skill.

Most of these start with, “Begins to …”

Focus Areas The focus areas that learners are likely to be able to demonstrate have Performance Features included.
Performance Features Performance features now describe two stages of skill development—Stage A and Stage B.
Sample Activities Sample activities are not divided into the three Communication Domains.  This is because at this level learners will need to develop their skills from highly familiar, personally relevant, and immediate contexts.

Sample activities for Stages A and B are provided.

Variables One set of variables applies to both stages.
Here’s an example

The example below shows Pre-Level 1 Writing Indicator 0.05: Begins to produce basic written text Performance Descriptions – stages A and B:

pre-level-1-3

Why should we bother using this Pre-Level 1 Supplement?

SBS’s Insight program recently aired an episode called Reading Between the Lines (first aired on 23/9/2016), which highlighted the challenges some adult learners face with developing LLN and foundation skills.

reading-between-the-lines

This episode is an important reminder of the many people in our communities who may have limited LLN/foundation skills but who sincerely want to participate successfully in today’s world. We have a responsibility to do what we can to facilitate this.

We feel that this new Pre-Level 1 Supplement will help us identify a way forward.

Extra reading… preparing pre-level 1 instruction or assessment activities

  • The Pre-Level 1 Supplement offers good practice approaches (within the Theoretical Underpinnings section, page 1)
  • The Performance Features  and Sample activities for each LLN core skill  provide a range of skills and activities that are highly useful to preparing instruction and assessment strategies and approaches
  • If you want to see some examples of instruction or assessment tasks, have a look at the  Precision Consultancy ACSF validated tools. Two examples are shown here.
Example 1:  Making numbers work

pre-l1-numeracy-eg-1

Example 2: Make a Sling

pre-l1-reading-eg1

ACER 2015 NALLNAC Conference: ‘take-aways’ and reflections

 

 WordItOut-word-cloud-875743

Ann and Chemène (we) attended and co-presented at ACER‘s National Adult Language, Literacy and Numeracy Conference (NALLNAC) held in Adelaide on 14 and 15 May 2015.

We got a lot from the conference and wanted to share our reflections and insights in this post.

Summary

This was not the first year we have attended NALLNAC, and this year we were pleased to see even more workshops dedicated to helping VET practitioners assess LLN skills and build foundation skill development into vocational training:

  • Chemène relished the chance to hear from foundation skill ‘gurus’ such as Philippa MacLean (writer of the ACSF), Dave Tout (Numeracy Guru and NALLNAC organiser), and Ros Bauer (Australian Training Awards Winner – Excellence in Adult Language Literacy Numeracy Practice Award), just to name three.
  • Ann re-united with long-standing LLN colleagues and networked with VET practitioners to learn more about the challenges and opportunities presented when incorporating foundation skills into VET.

This conference truly offered a meeting place between LLN and VET practitioners.  Thank you to the 2015 ACER National Adult Language Literacy and Numeracy Conference team for this opportunity.

Our workshop

Our workshop was called,

Within VET Training, where are the opportunities to EMBED (Explore Moments to Bring Explicit LLN Development into VET)?

As luck would have it, ACER scheduled our workshop for the last time slot on the last day of the conference.  So, we were prepared to deliver to a small, tired group.  Instead, we were delighted by a large group of motivated and energetic LLN and VET professionals who were prepared to share experiences and ideas.

It’s hard for VET practitioners to get started or make progress building learners’ foundation skills within VET–trainers know their training content, and prepare to deliver it effectively. So how can building foundation skills fit within the time available?

Our workshop aimed to help VET practitioners do just that:  to identify ways to monitor, support and build Foundation Skills within vocational training sessions.

We used a case study as the basis for group discussions.  We gave participants:

  • an example of a vocational session plan (a real example, donated by a skilled and very nice trainer we know).
  • a profile of a typical learner group for this session.

Participants worked in small groups to identify ways to adapt training delivery so that in addition to covering vocational content, the session delivery could also:

  • Support learners
  • Upskill learners and help them build foundation skills
  • Monitor foundation skill development.

Although the suggestions focus on foundation skill development, the vocation or workplace content remained at the forefront.

So what ideas did participants come up with?  See for yourself!

We collated the ideas participants came up with in a post-conference takeaway pdf resource.  We also added a few ideas of our own.  Participant ideas were so good that we thought we’d make it available to anyone wanting to get ideas for how to build foundation skills within vocational education sessions.  We hope you find it useful and welcome your feedback.

DOWNLOAD RESOURCE HERE

ACER 2015 NALLNAC Conference Reflections

NALLNAC left us reminded of, exposed to, and encouraged by the array of authors, papers, reports and workshops with impacting messages about LLN development in Australia.

The following comments and links are also relevant to the current national foundation skills agenda, each with a focus on the trainer/teacher. The authors either remind us that how and what we do are critical to learner outcomes, or suggest there are stages and phases progressed as we integrate LLN into VET training.

1    We were reminded of:

For example, The US Gordon Commission’s paper, To Assess, To Teach, To Learn: A Vision for the Future of Assessment, reminded us that where Foundation Skills are concerned, critical to progress is assessing the needs and capacity first, then implementing a continuous loop of teaching, reflecting, feedback and assessing. The key take-away teaching model Assess, Teach, Learn fits harmoniously with building learner foundation skills where knowing current learner capacity is the starting point.

2    We were exposed to:

For example, the Les Retford Integrating LLN into VET Practice research findings  expose perspectives of  VET practitioners as they transition towards embracing foundation skills within VET teaching. The spiral metaphor (image) suggests that trainers progress through five stages: commencing with awareness and progressing towards influencing practice. If you support VET trainers , be mindful that the journey is a challenge and consider the support available.

3    We are encouraged by:

Revisiting two ‘gems’. For exmple,  John Hattie’s Visible Learning ranked teaching and learning approaches that affect learning. Hattie’s emphasise on the teacher as the change agent, and teaching from the perspective of the learner can’t be overlooked.

Also, Dr. Jackie Gerstein’s Growth Mindset has become a popular model for educators and reminds us that if we have the Growth Mindset we will be prepared to continuously adapt and grow as educators, and therefore achieve better results.

Teaching is a work in progress.