One strategy for each ACSF (LLN) skill

We are often asked for the ‘one strategy’ that will make the most difference, or will be the solution for most training contexts and learners. If only there was one top tip.

Strategies relevant to your training and workplace contexts, learner cohort, delivery mode, and delivery resources may be very different to others.  Research can also shed new light on specific strategies and approaches.

This blog offers a strategy for each of the 5 Australian Core Skills Framework (ACSF) Language Literacy and Numeracy (LLN) skills – Learning, Reading, Writing, Oral Communication, and Numeracy.

The tips are are not  THE ONE and ONLY best strategy. They have been selected due to current available research about that aspect, or frequently asked questions.

  1. Learning
  2. Reading
  3. Writing
  4. Oral Communication 
  5. Numeracy

1 Learning: Focus on feedback

The research related to Learning is flourishing as more is understood about how the brain works. One key tip that supports  a person to learn is feedback. (Shank, P. 2017, Practice and Feedback for Deeper Learning). Feedback to learners is critical in the adult education and workplace training context. 

We have written in more detail about the value of feedback to learners through the formative assessment stage, especially feedback about the learners’ foundation skills progress. You can recap the  strategies in our blog titled Focus on formative assessment to build foundation skills.

How do you work out what you will say to the learners so that they are supported to move forward with the task and continue to develop or practice the required foundation skill/s?

Tailored learner feedback can depend on the range and depth of the ‘data’ available to you. For many trainers, learners’ assessment task responses provide the first indication of  foundation skill progress. Communication with learners may also be possible. The emphasis is usually on what else the learner could or should do.

Have you considered checking in with all learners to obtain broader information about the training delivery elements that impact learning? There may be aspects about the training delivery that could or should be altered.

The ACER offers a Student perception of teaching questionnaire. Its purpose is to improve the quality of teaching and learning. The ACER questionnaire covers the following areas:

Learning environment

  1. Respect and rapport
  2. The learning culture
  3. Managing classroom activities
  4. Managing student behaviour

Teaching practices

  1. Purposeful teaching
  2. Effective teaching strategies
  3. Student engagement
  4. Assessment and feedback

Although this survey presents with a skew towards face to face based learning – it does still happen in the VET sector!- rapport, culture, activities and behaviour also relate to on-line/remote learning delivery.

Check the student survey administered by your RTO. What feedback about the learning environment and instruction strategies does it provide? Perhaps develop your own tool to obtain learner feedback about the learning environment and instruction strategies, or explore and implement the ACER tool to obtain learners’ perspectives.

2 Reading: Focus on skills to read between the lines

It’s likely that your training and assessment requires learners to read a range of work-based texts. Some adult learners commence training with a limited range of reading skills based on the familiar ‘comprehension’ style questions. This literal approach seeks to know if the reader can identify the who, what, when, where, and why answers.

It is not unusual to hear learners say – ‘the answer is not in here’ when they attempt an inferential question or a question requiring them to interpret the text content (required for ACSF Reading Level 3 or 4)

Competent readers demonstrate the capacity to infer and interpret at ACSF Levels 3 and 4:

  • ACSF Level 3: integrate, interpret, simple extrapolating, simple inference, simple abstracting
  • ACSF Level 4: extract, extrapolate, infer, reflect, abstract

(from the ACSF variables Reading at ACSF Level 3 and ACSF level 4)

If you are after a strategy to build learners’ skills to infer, interpret, or, read between the lines, try to change the question format to require deeper thinking or comparison.

For example: add must, would, can/could, will, might or should to the simple question starters What?, Who?, When?, Where?, How? and Why? 

ACSF Level 3 (involves reading routine texts with some unfamiliar information)

  • How could this problem be solved differently?
  • Why might the author have said ….?
  • What can the purpose of …?
  • What other opportunities should this provide?
  • How would things be different if….?

ACSF Level 4 (involves reading a range of complex texts, unfamiliar and unpredictable)

  • For what purpose would someone read these?
  • What questions can these texts answer?
  • How must the concerns be raised about ….?
  • Why might there be advice about……?
  • How could the key themes be addressed?

 3 Writing: Focus on collaborative writing

Workplace writing skills are evolving. Increasingly workplaces connect with employees through www applications. Workers are expected to communicate collaboratively, and use a range of tools to communicate with colleagues and other workers. Think about the tools and strategies you use to communicate a written message with colleagues, or within your professional network.

Most training involves writing a workplace task – the report, the client note, the income and expense record, the instruction, the compliance documents.

A connected workplace means workers need additional writing skills. The writer must establish or maintain the connection and demonstrate expertise.

Sensitivities are involvedLearners need to learn and practice the subtleties of collaborative writing, Others will read the message,

  • Is the message clear?
  • Will it create the right impression?
  • Could it offend?
  • Does it reflect my expertise?

Professor Lesley Farrell – a workforce literacy expert. Says

“Collaborative writing is now a fundamental workplace practiceWhen we write, things are at stake with each utterance …. This is not the kind of writing we teach or assess.”

Professor Lesley Farrell, 31/5/16 Accessed from: http://tinyurl.com/z5j4lvh 

Professor Farrell spoke at VALBEC annual conference 16/5/19. She will speak at:

At each conference, Professor Farrell  will discuss findings concerning the Literacy 4.0 project which focuses on the gig economy, the smart factory,  and the implications for literacy educators in workplaces.

4 Oral Communication: Focus on pragmatic skills

The ACSF refers to selecting appropriate oral communication strategies for different contexts. 

The appropriateness of what is said in a given context is referred to as pragmatic skills; the social language skills we use in our daily interactions with others.  In some workplaces, pragmatics matter.

Below are the ACSF Oral Communication indicators for the first indicator at ACSF Level 3 and Level 4

3.07 Selects and uses appropriate strategies to establish and maintain spoken communication in familiar and some unfamiliar contexts
4.07 Demonstrates flexibility in spoken texts by choosing appropriate structures and strategies in a range of contexts

Research by Mavromaras, K. et al, 2017 The aged care workforce reports that communication between residents/clients/patients and workers was identified as an issue by 88% of respondents 

Sometimes what is appropriate must be made explicit. Research has pointed to the benefit of direct instruction on the use of pragmatic language – i.e. cultural rules and language tools – especially where building or maintaining relationships is involved.

“They are not features of  language we pick up just by being exposed to them in daily life.”

From Mackay Pip, 2018 Pragmatic language skills for CALD carers working in aged care VALBEC Fine Print 2018 Vol 1 #1

In workplace roles where building rapport is important, for example in aged care, it is appropriate to use these pragmatic skills to develop rapport to achieve designated tasks. This sector involves both clients and workers from increasingly culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds.

Where training people to work in this sector is involved – include the pragmatic skills to promote or build social connection:

  • small talk (cultural rules)
  • and humour (language tools).

 5 Numeracy: Focus on numeracy, it’s a critical 21st century skill

We know we advised that we will offer one strategy for each core skill. For numeracy we offer one podcast with the lot!

David Tout is an Australian expert in Numeracy. In this short podcast he provides key messages about:

  • what international research says about numeracy skills in Australia
  • the impact of numeracy on success
  • the numeracy demands of the 21st century workplace
  • skills and strategies to build numeracy skills

Access the podcast recording here.

https://aspirelr.com.au/pages/news-media/podcast-library/the-n-in-lln-why-its-a-crucial-skill

 

We hope you have found at least one tip that you can implement, or trial, or find out more about.

Share what interests you.

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.

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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

Focus on formative assessment to build foundation skills

Formative Assessment

For this post, the Formative assessment refers to  the training stage sandwiched between Diagnostic assessment and Summative assessment. The stage of training where learners generally practise the foundation skills used to perform the workplace task.

Training Phase

Type of foundation skills assessment

Pre-training, or start of training Diagnostic assessment: check for learners’ existing foundation skills
During training
Formative assessment: check learners’ progress with learning how to perform the foundation skills embedded in the workplace task. Assessment for learning.
Completion of training Summative assessment: assess competency to perform the foundation skills embedded within the workplace task.  Assessment of learning.
The benefits of formative assessment to Build learners’ foundation

A typical training program follows the pattern:

  1. instructions about the workplace task (and the underpinning foundation skills)
  2. activities to practise the foundation skills required to perform the workplace task
  3. assess the learners’ competency to perform the workplace task with the embedded foundation skills

For learners who commence with enough workplace and foundation skills knowledge, this process may be sufficient.

But, if you have learners who:

  • are new to the workplace skill, or embedded foundation skill (Novice performer)
  • have some prior experience with the skills, but are unsure  (Advanced Beginner)
  • may need some skill revision, or a prompt to perform independently (Capable performer)

……… then, how will you know the instruction is sufficient to enable the learners to perform  independently and confidently at the time of final assessment.

For both trainers and learners it is valuable to find out as soon as possible, if learners need:

  • re-direction with ‘how-to’
  • revisiting strategies or resources
  • alternative strategies or approaches
  • alternative resources or support

……………to build foundation skills.

Adult learners:

  • can easily go off-track
  • may need to ‘un-do’ or re-learn a strategy, concept, or understanding
  • will benefit from confirmation of their approach
  • seek timely feedback

Formative assessment:

  • enables trainers to check the strength of instruction (‘how to’  …) and support strategies
  • enables the learners’ to become active participants in the learning process.

Think about ………….the implications of assuming learners are developing the necessary foundation skills, and don’t check?

We recommend an active and planned approach: Make formative assessment a priority…………..
1 implement an Assess to Learn approach

Assess Learn cycle_learningfirst.org.aublog05022016 Develop a feedback-driven learning environment where you are tuned-in to the foundation skills progress made by the learners and use this to influence the guidance and the instruction you provide, or the delivery plan overall.

  • Assesses learners’ needs – what are the learners’ skills, what do they need to learn ‘how to do’ now?
  • Select the strategies and approaches to develop the learners’ foundation skills
  • Evaluatethrough formative assessment –  the effectiveness: check progress, understanding, confidence to perform the task independently What progress have learners made?

Think about …….. how might formative assessment influence your instruction approaches to build foundation skills?

2  Where possible, stretch the Practice phase out

Formative assessment cropped

‘Dip-into’ learners’ foundation skills progress during the ‘practice’ stage of delivery. Build into the practice stage frequent opportunities to capture what learners CAN do, and the  challenges they face. Be open to their reflective comments.

The benefits of collaborative activity

“Beware of the lonely learner: they are at risk of making less progress”

Denise Meyerson  2016 , Emerging Trends in Learning ACPET webinar

For learners: Working with others or responding to the thoughts and ideas of others helps to shape the learning and provides an ‘informal’ formative assessment.

For trainers: Providing feedback to a group is effective and impacts all learns involved – it may also be less time -consuming.

Think about ………when are the timely opportunities to check in with learners as they practise the foundation skills independently, or with others?

3 Tune-in to learner’s skill development, some suggested etools

Some etools to assist formative assessment:

Other approaches: 53 Ways to check for understanding
4 make the check in worthwhile for you and the learner

The type of feedback can make the difference between the learner moving forward or not.

  1. Accessed from www.freeimages.com under creative commons licence 8/8/16
    Accessed from http://www.freeimages.com under creative commons license 8/8/16

    Clarify steps, reveal the foundation skill nuances for this workplace context, expose common mistakes, or misunderstandings.

  2. Confirm progress, strengths and what’s needed
  3. Construct clear benchmarks/checklists/rubrics with what is expected or required

 

If you are interested in:

How to build LLN assessment into VET training (including formative assessment):

  • join us as we deliver a webinar via Velg on 30 August, 2016.
  • contact us to answer your questions

 

 

 

 

 

How can digital skills support foundation skills?

accessed under creative commons license from https://images.unsplash.com/photo-1439219970881-3727d2e3402a?q=80&fm=jpg&s=892a23f2aff428670fb78e821072b97d

We know the digital world will continue to influence our lives into the future. We also know there is a vast array of digital tools and applications useful to the training context. Keeping abreast of developments and possibilities is a challenge.

There are so many possible links, examples and tools that there was risk of the content and quantity becoming overwhelming. The aim is to suggest online and e-tools, ways of using them, strategies and case study examples etc. that would have potential for supporting highly diverse students in a Foundations Skills context – it is not about how Foundation Skills practitioners could create “one-size-fits-all” courses, nor is it about testing students to determine individual needs. Finding solutions to support Foundation Skills development is not formulaic so the intention is to provide a range of examples, tools and ideas to enable practitioners to dip in and try things that resonate with them and/or their students.

Flexible Learning E-Standards for training Foundation Skills Toolkit introduction.

If you are:

  • interested in using digital tools, and are unsure where to start?
  • looking for more digital learning tips and strategies?
  • watching your learners using digital tools, and you want to build on that platform?
  • pondering which tools could support which foundation skills?

Then, have a look at:

  • this eWorks article could be just what you need to kick start or reinvigorate digital activity
  • a webinar series : Teaching Tips to build your learners’ foundation skills (digital strategies included)
  • the popplet clusters tools into three groups; for collaboration with and between learners , for gathering feedback, and for presentation
  • technology assisted links at Resource Links, Teaching Strategies 2 on this site

You may have ideas and feedback about strategies you have tried – share them with others  by adding a comment to this post.

Adult Learners’ Week 2015 – Unlocking Learning

 Get ready. The time to celebrate is almost here.

ALW2015_20yearsSeptember signals two United Nations (UNESCO) endorsed celebrations; Adult Learners’ Week and International Literacy Day. It’s a time to promote the opportunities you offer to enable adults to continue to learn. It’s also time to celebrate their achievements. 2015 is a twenty year milestone for Australian Adult Learner’s Week Celebrations.

 

What is the purpose? What is celebrated? adl ild

The 2015 theme: Unlocking Learning

I remember a song by The Whitlams – Keep the Light On – with these words that neatly express the challenges we and the adult learners sometimes face in the challenge and goal to search for the key to unlock learning:

We stumble into each other’s lives and we knock some things over, Try not to make a sound, Each time you reach out, a new shout or shine-on, We run in and fall out, fumble around for the key ………….

Purchased from Stocksy 4/8/15
Purchased from Stocksy 4/8/15

 

Regardless of the adult learners’ age, or the teaching context, it is a privilege to facilitate adult learning.

 

 

 

If you’d like strategies and ideas to unlock learning and build learners’ literacy (foundation skills), then you might like to:

  • participate in the LLN and VET Meeting Place Teaching Tips to build your learners’ foundation skills Webinar series.
  • communicate with a Foundation Skills Champion in your state, or a similar workplace context. The National Foundation Skills Strategy Project provides details.
  • ask questions and obtain ideas on the FS Teach Facebook group.

Participate in Adult Learners’ Week

If you’d like to find out more about, or be involved with Adult Learner’s Week, then you might like to:

 

 

 

 

 

Overcoming the first sentence syndrome

accessed from https://download.unsplash.com/1/irish-hands.jpg 210715 under creative commons license

Writing can be hard work, especially getting started. Finding  the words to write the first sentence can pose a challenge and potentially block the flow of ideas and actions to complete the writing task.

Start a sentence v2The first sentence provides the expectation of what’s next, or indicates what the text is about. The audience (reader) refers to the style, complexity, grammar, punctuation, and vocabulary as clues to gain meaning. Learners can stumble at this important writing stage.

How can we assist learners to overcome the first sentence syndrome?

If your learners need to write –reports, procedures, policies, business letters, abstracts, conclusions, introductions, summaries, emails, personal journals, opinion pieces, WHS reports, narrative pieces, blog posts, learning reflections …………and they are challenged to get started, then providing focused and direct scaffolding can enable learners to progress independently.

It’s easy to assume that scaffolding writing skill is usually necessary for learners with limited foundation skills capacity and higher level learners don’t need this type of support. When faced with writing an unfamiliar text type, learners may feel like a Novice, or Advanced Beginner (CSfW) uncertain about how to get started. Regardless of the text type and complexity, learners appreciate knowing how to approach writing for the intended purpose.

If you are introducing new writing genres or text types, reveal:

  • the text purpose and audience: what message is intended, and who will be reading this?
  • the text type: what is the expected vocabulary, language and text format?

Encourage learners to:

  • spend time planning (key points, heading sub-headings): gathering ideas or specific information, and locating resources
  • edit and rearrange their writing: know it is normal to redraft, many writers visit and revisit
7 Sentence Writing Strategies

The following strategies:

  1. can be used within different text types and complexity.
  2. adapt to different delivery models and web-based tools.
  3. support foundation skill development across ACSF and CSfW levels.
  4. are accessed from different sources:
  • Teaching Adults to Write to Communicate: located on this site in the Resource Links Teaching Strategies  (page 2)
  • QCAL Tutor Tips:  located on this site in the Resource Links Teaching Strategies  (Page 1)
  • Gelman, H. Everyone can write: A Guide to get you started  (book details see below)
Strategy
Source

Running Dictionary. A skill building activity featuring relevant grammar , punctuation or vocabulary features.

For a detailed description, access QCAL Tutor Tip Running Writing

Sentence Soapbox. Learners individually write a sentence for a specific purpose. Sentences are redistributed anonymously, read, shared and edited by peers.  

 For a detailed description, access QCAL Tutor Tips Sentence Soapbox

A shared (or guided) approach to writing. This enables the trainer to discuss and model writing strategies as the learners try independently.

 For a detailed description, access Teaching Adults to Write to Communicate, page 28.

Provide a writing frame.  For example ask questions, or provide a short description of what should be included within the sentence.

. For a detailed description, access Teaching Adults to Write to Communicate, page 31

Provide example sentence starters for different text types.

Gelman, H. (2014) Everyone can write: A guide to get you started Exisle Publishing PTY Ltd

Build Word Maps. Explore learners’ known relevant vocabulary, introduce new vocabulary, demonstrate linkages, antonyms, synonyms.

  For a detailed description, access Teaching Adults to Write to Communicate, page 36.

Encourage learners to collect samples of opening sentences for particular text types or text sections. These can be shared, building a group collection or resource.

Gelman, H. (2014) Everyone can write: A guide to get you started. Exisle Publishing Pty Ltd

Building foundation skills through vocational training: first steps

 

If developing learners’ foundation skills is important to you or your RTO, this post will give you:

  • some practical ways to get started, and

  • links to information about our forthcoming workshop titled:

“Build it in: How to merge foundation skill development with adult education and training”

 7th August 2015, in Sydney.

Access the details here or download the workshop flyer

Before we start, if you are new to foundation skills, background information about the national agenda and the current foundation skills description, is available here.

Focusing on foundation skills within training is a National Foundation Skills Strategy for Adults priority..

Building foundation skills through vocational training:  fact vs myth

VET ad FS togetherMyth: By teaching the vocational task (e.g. hairdressing), all learners build competence in both the vocational task and in the foundation skills needed to perform that task.

Fact: To develop foundation skills, some learners need explicit foundation skill-building strategies merged into vocational programs

So what are explicit foundation skill-building strategies?

The key word here is, ‘explicit’.  To be explicit is to be proactive and make foundation skill development in our vocational training both obvious and

highly visible

… i.e. explicit.

We can’t just hope that if we concentrate on teaching the vocational task, foundation skills will come. They may, but with many learners they may not.

How can I get started?

To get started, adopt a dual-delivery focus to your vocational training programs.  Focus on:

  1. How to build vocational skill – e.g. ability to cut hair, AND
  2. How to build the foundation skills needed to perform the skill at work – e.g. speaking and listening skills needed to converse with clients while cutting hair; numeracy skills needed to calculate the bill for the hair treatment.

Devise training strategies that cover both vocational skill and foundation skills.

Here’s a 2 step process to consider

  1. Explore the training content foundation skills

  2. Explore how you can reveal the foundation skills ‘how to do it’ steps’

1    Explore the training content foundation skills

What do the learners need to do?

Look at the task from a different perspective. Instead of focusing on the task only from the perspective of the what you intend to deliver, align your reflection towards the foundation skills and ask, when the learners do this, what will they actually need to do? What skills or knowledge are involved with this task?

For example, what is involved with:

  • recording case notes?
  • developing spreadsheets?
  • completing this project?
  • costing electrical installation?
  • analysing policy documents?
  • preparing a speech?

Ask, what will the learners actually need to do to complete the tasks? What skills and knowledge are involved to be able to perform that task? If you find examples helpful, here are some resources describing foundation skills within a mix of industry, and government roles.

2    Explore how to reveal the ‘how to do it’ steps

You may think it’s obvious, but for many learners the foundation skill ‘how to do it’ steps are invisible. It may feel odd, or uncomfortable, but finding your voice, or a resource, that reveals the foundation skill ‘how-to-do-it’, can make all the difference to learners really ‘getting it’ and being able to apply, and transfer the foundation skills, or not.

Tasks seem so natural to us, we forget that we have a subset of procedures, strategies, specific skills and knowledge enabling us to do the task so seamlessly. Have the Australian Core Skills Framework (ACSF) and Core Skills for Work (CSfW) easily accessible. The performance descriptions will help to clarify what is involved – the skills and knowledge.

Locate resources that reveal the skills and knowledge involved. For example this Youtube focus shows and explains the fundamentals of  writing a paragraph. The Queensland Council of Adult Literacy Tutor Tips provide a range of foundation skill ‘how to do it’ strategies for trainers. For example, if your learners need to develop report writing skills this report writing pdf reveals the structure, features, purposes of this text type.

The workshop details again …

If you would like to know more about building foundation skills through vocational training, then check out our workshop…

“Build it in: How to merge foundation skill development with adult education and training”

 7th August 2015, in Sydney.

Access the details here or download the workshop flyer