ALaN WA Newsletter May 2013

Welcome to edition 6 of the Adult Literacy and Numeracy Network of Western Australia Newsletter!

Views expressed by contributors to the newsletter are their own and, unless expressly stated, do not reflect the opinions of their employers/organisations.

This contents page links individually to each article enabling you to go immediately to those of your choice. Alternatively, if you go to the main blog link, you can access the articles by scrolling down the page.

We welcome your comments and contributions to our newsletter. If you are an Adult Literacy/Numeracy practitioner in Western Australia or indeed, anywhere in the world, we invite you to subscribe and comment. If you interested in joining the GoogleGroup for our network, please visit our “How to join” page and complete the online form.


1. Joining the conversation!

Commenting on discussion forums and blogs is a great way for you and your students to share your ideas and opinions.

2. CGEA is now re-accredited until 2018!

CGEA is newly re-accredited here are links for curricula downloads and links for finding National and State numbers.

3. CGEA network files.

A reminder and update for ALaN Network GoogleGroup members on accessing the shared documents

4. Literacy for empowerment?

The WA Adult Literacy Council Conference is coming up soon – find out about this year’s theme as well as checking the dates for your diary

5. Does texting help or hinder children’s spelling skills?

A great piece to make you think – and we hope you will add your comments and opinions too!

6. New online numeracy resources

Exciting new resource from VALBEC – checkout this review!

7. Foundation Skills Training Package (FSTP) released.

The FSTP has now been released and can be downloaded – discussion will continue!

8. for learning!

An online sticky note tool that is easy for students to learn and use, as well as being fun and enabling them to write for an authentic audience.



Joining the conversation!


Our newsletter, like the ALaN Network GoogleGroup, is a way of starting conversations. The conversation may continue through other media but often the most useful way to join that conversation is to comment on the initiating post. Please! Please! Join our ALaN conversations – add comments to posts in the newsletter and in the GoogleGroup.

About commenting

Many very well known and experienced writers of online articles/bloggers say that the discussion that happens through the comments is the most important part for them, so being able to join in through commenting is a great way of sharing your own ideas as well as giving feedback to the writer. If someone has already made a similar comment to what you have in mind don’t be put off! You can still add your comment in support of an opinion already expressed – maybe expand on it a little, add further thoughts  or put your own slant. Also don’t be put off if you disagree – you can still comment – expressing disagreement is fine as long as it is done with respect and in an appropriate tone. Personally, I always think of the “feedback sandwich” and (especially if I disagree) try always to begin and end my comments on a positive note.

Commenting online in a public (eg the newsletter which is a blog) or semi-public (eg the GoogleGroup) discussion forum is a little bit different from providing feedback privately or within a very small closed group. Comments are an important part of both discussion forums and blogs. However remember that commenting is public feedback and so it is important to bear in mind your own security/safety as well as the tone and potential impact of your comments.


“Good” commenting

Good commenting is very much about:

  • Adding value to the conversation. You don’t have to say something totally new to do that, reinforcing someone else’s idea/opinion is fine.
  • Being respectful of others’ ideas and opinions even if you disagree. There is nothing wrong in disagreeing with someone through a comment it is how you do this that matters.

This Lifehacker post although several years old makes great points about good commenting that you may find useful for your students and for yourself.

Ideally when I am introducing students to commenting I give them these links:

or similar ones and then ask them to make their own list. I do also have “Guidelines for commenting” that I can share with colleagues for use with their students who may be commenting on blogs or taking part in discussion forums. Some of the points overlap with those made in made in the Lifehacker post mentioned above but I also raise issues of safety for the commenter and others.


Just as with face-to-face interaction respect is important! Making respect explicit is especially significant in asynchronous online interaction because we lack the body language and audio cues that can soften a possibly hurtful comment. This is one reason why using “emoticons” is so much part of online conversation.

Commenting in forums and on posts is the “life blood” of online interaction. So PLEASE join our conversations here in the Newsletter and also (if you are an ALaN GoogleGroup member) in the group. You could start with a comment on this post!

CGEA is now reaccredited until 2018!

The Certificates in General Education for Adults (CGEA) 2013-2018 is here at last.

As we expected, there isn’t a lot of change mostly adding digital literacy into the reading and writing stream. There are also some changes to elective rules and a welcome attempt to reduce the problem of tedious and repetitive assessment.

But, of course, there are all new numbers:

  • 22234VIC Course in Initial General Education for Adults
  • 22235VIC Certificate I in General Education for Adults (Introductory)
  • 22236VIC Certificate I in General Education for Adults
  • 22237VIC Certificate II in General Education for Adults
  • 22238VIC Certificate III in General Education for Adults

The courses are accredited for the period 1 July, 2013 to 30 June 2018.

The curricula can be downloaded from the Victorian Training Support Network

NOTE you will need to scroll to the bottom of the list to find the NEW CGEA.

Also NOTE that as previously ALL the curricula are bundled into each of the five differently named documents. This means that you  only need to download ONE of the docs. There are separate executive summaries for each qualification.

New national unit numbers can also be found on the TGA website – enter the National course number in the search box. At the time of writing this the courses were designated “Non-current” as the course become the current course on July 1 2013.  From this date all new students will enrol in the new qualification. Current students can continue to complete their qualification requirements according to the CGEA 2007-2013.

WA numbers have been assigned and are now available from VETinfoNet.

We will be sharing the work of identifying changes in the ALaN Network Google Group. For a start there is a PowerPoint (available in the Group) from the curriculum maintenance officer at Victoria University. If you find anything that you think other CGEA teachers should know about regarding the new curricula then please post in the GoogleGroup.

CGEA Network Files

If you are new to the Google Group, you may not yet be familiar with the CGEA Network Files (or Google Drive – formerly Google Docs) page.  This is the place to come if you want to look at resources shared by other teachers, find out about upcoming PD, find out about useful websites etc.

You can access the Google Drive page by clicking on the link on the CGEA Network Home Page (CGEA Network Files)

If you click on the ‘2011-the present’ folder you will get the most recent resources etc.

The folders should (hopefully) be fairly self explanatory.

How to” gives instructions on how to upload documents and how to join the google group

“Moderation” has a few examples of moderated tasks (we would really like more examples here…)

“Professional Development” has information of upcoming PD

“Resource Ideas” has a range of documents from lists of useful websites, to assessment tasks to teaching ideas.

Please feel free to contribute to any of the folders.

If you need any help with accessing folders or documents, please contact me (Dani Murray) through the Google Group or by commenting on this post.






New online numeracy resources

‘Building Strength with Numeracy’ revises and improves on the iconic numeracy resources ‘Strength in Numbers’ and ‘Breaking the Maths Barrier’, and other ‘tried and true’ numeracy teaching resources developed by Beth Marr and other experienced numeracy teachers.

The new resource is a collection of activities that builds on and updates elements of the previous resources, as well as including many new, previously unpublished ideas, activities and student practice exercises.

The resource is accessible online for teachers to use in a range of settings. The activities and practice sheets span a range of levels and subject areas with some suggestions regarding links and sequencing. However, as with the previous resources, it is not intended to cover the whole of any particular curriculum or course.

It is intended that teachers select content relevant to the needs of their learners and integrate it into their own teaching plans in conjunction with other materials. For this reason it has been presented to enable users to download separate activities, single practice sheets or whole sections, as required. The resource is a work in progress in that not all sections of previous resources have yet been included. Hopefully these will be added in the future.

Thanks to VALBEC  for providing us this free resource based on all of the great work that Australians have produced about adult numeracy.

Literacy for empowerment?

The Western Australian Adult literacy Council (WAALC)  chose the title  Getting back to our roots: Literacy for empowerment for their 2013 Conference as a follow on from last year’s theme At the heart of the matter: identity and trust in adult learning.

But just what is literacy for empowerment? What roots are we getting back to?

When WAALC was incorporated back in 1986, the adult literacy field was rooted in the idea that adult literacy initiatives were needed to empower individuals and their communities to address injustice and inequality.  Students themselves were encouraged to set the objectives and to acquire skills they wanted and needed to make their lives better.

Today, such a notion may seem quaint and old-fashioned alongside the current emphasis on frameworks that define in little assessable chunks at graduated levels what literacy is required to be taught and learnt with the purpose of building Australia’s workforce skills. When practitioners try to match these modern frameworks to real people learning for real purposes, sometimes they find learner-centred activities are pushed to the fringes.

However, teachers still report that the most exciting things that happen in adult literacy classes can’t be counted against the frameworks. And many of them don’t clearly match to the objective of  the development of human capital to improve Australia’s productivity though I am sure in the long run, they do!  After all more justice and equality means more people can participate in the activities of society more fully, including employment.

So WAALC is working on a program that will acknowledge the reality of the system-driven frameworks while supporting practitioners to find ways to hold on to the importance of individual and community empowerment as a central objective of our work.

So if you want to contribute to this conversation, put 18-19 July 2013 in your diary. Registrations will open soon: keep an eye on the WA Adult Literacy Council website

Hope to see you there!

Cheryl Wiltshire

2013 WAALC State Conference Convenor


Does texting help or hinder children’s spelling skills?

Last week I came across this article (admittedly from 2011) about the link between children texting and their spelling skills.  I found it really interesting as I automatically assumed it would demonstrate that texting has a negative impact.

I have to confess that I have been called a grammar fascist in the past.  My school (in Cape Town) made grammar a priority (in all subjects, not just English) and that influenced me very strongly.  It made it easier for me to learn other languages later on, but it also means that I have to rein in my ‘red pen’ when I’m teaching as, while grammar obviously has its place (and a significant one at that), it’s not the only thing that matters.

It got me thinking though about how grammar is so important to some people, and not to others.  Is it just a generation thing?  is it a cultural thing?  Is it just personal choice?  I found this blog entry while I was thinking about it..

What do you think? for learning!


There are lots of simple, fun to use, online tools that we can use to stimulate interest in writing. One of the simplest is “Lino”. This is a simple cloud based “sticky note” system – although it is certainly more than just a place to put notes. There are several of these available online including “Wallwisher” one of the early ones and the first one I used. However this article is about Lino and some creative ways to use it with students.

I like using online tools because they provide opportunities for students to write for an authentic audience ie someone other than their teacher/lecturer. This audience may be their fellow students or can be broadened out by sharing links more widely with students or teachers/lecturers globally.

Signing up and some of the fucntions

Signing up to Lino is very easy and your students don’t need to sign up to add to your canvases. Only users who intend to create canvases need to sign up. However students often sign up because they can use Lino for reminders, “to do” lists and taking notes.

There are a number of different functions available. You can drag and drop sticky notes of different colours or colourless ones and then add your own text to them. Images, files and videos from several video sites can also be included.

Once you sign up you get a Home Page with one canvas “Main” this gives you a run down on creating a new canvas adding stickies and also the other tools available for editing. You can use Lino as a memo and task management system but I have only used it for activities with students and as a contributor to Linos made by other members of my global network. creatively for student engagement

Lino is used by educators worldwide, with students of all ages and across a variety of subject areas. This example is from a school teacher based in Perth (I met him through my global network on Twitter and he has become a good friend both actual and virtual). He created a Lino for his students and other people across the globe to post ideas for World Water Day 2011. The response both within the school he was at and globally was huge! The Lino is embedded here – you can move around within it with click and drag. Also if you move your mouse to the bottom right hand corner you will see a thumbnail of the whole Lino.

I have used Linoit mainly for student feedback:

However it also works well for:

  • writing stimulus – with an image (and example) for a short piece of writing, I did one for writing a Haiku that was planned for use this year although this is now unlikely as my Institute has decided to cease delivery of CGEA;

As this will probably not be used with students I would be delighted if anyone felt they would like to visit “Write a Haiku” and add their own Haiku to the page 🙂

  • brainstorming ideas for collaborative work;
  • individual students – sign up and make their own for “to do” lists and reminders


For me the two best aspects of Lino are: its ease of use; and the opportunity for students to create writing for others than just their teacher to read. I believe strongly that students in a face-to-face situation, a blended situation or entirely online as mine have been for the last few years must have access to technology in their learning. This not just because of the opportunities to write for authentic audiences but because they will need to use technology to survive in their future lives at work and at home.

Please explore and investigate and add your comments – would your students like this? Would you use it with your students? Do you already use it with your students – share your/their Linos?

Foundation Skills Training Package (FSTP) released

The FSTP is now available on TGA – Foundation Skills Training Package

This TP has not yet been implemented here in Western Australia because nominal hours have not yet been assigned. However it is time to assess possible uses for 2014.

The FSTP units are based on very small chunks of the Australian Core Skills Framework (ACSF) so they may be suitable for recognising discrete mathematics or numeracy, literacy and digital literacy skills and knowledge needed in industry contexts.  However, the units might not provide the broad set of generic skills to ascertain level appropriate for entry purposes into other courses, even when packaged together to make a qualification. They are most suitable to support students already in a vocational course.

As identified in the Western Australian consultation that preceded the development of this Training Package:

  • the bank of units are likely to be more more useful in WA than the full  qualifications
  • WA already has support for vocational students in the forms of CAVSS and USIQ so we may use the FSTP less than states that don’t have suitable products for integrated support
  • Teacher expertise is still the most critical need whatever the curriculum product used eg the high level skills to address literacy and numeracy learning needs. These skills include the need to address issues such as identity as a learner and the impact of previous learning failure as well as how to teach the many different sorts of LLN skills. Teachers also need to be able to create an environment that allows students to build on their strengths as they broaden and deepen their skills.

Please share your questions and observations as you dip into the TP, either here for the whole world to see or back in GoogleGroup if you want to discuss it just with members of the ALaN Network.