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Level 6 and 7 snapshots

Learning programme design

Level 6/7 snapshots

Health ed snapshots:

1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6

Physical ed snapshots:

1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5

6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10

Home economics snapshots:

1 |  2 |  3 |  4 |  5 |  6

Combined HPE and home economics snapshots

Home economics snapshot 6

Building language and literacy skills to successfully navigate and achieve level 6 home economics


Our school is a large decile 6, urban school with 10 percent recent immigrants and a large Polynesian cohort. Our teachers have found from year to year that students came into the year 11 home economics classes with ranging capabilities in relation to language and literacy skills. Teachers realised that the ability to interpret and communicate ideas effectively is requisite for NCEA success, and subject-specific language and literacy skills need to be carefully considered and developed in order for students to reach their potential (NZC, page 16).

This snapshot uses the teaching as inquiry framework (NZC, page 35) as a lens through which students' literacy needs were assessed and their skills developed in two level 6 home economics classes, with the ultimate aim of enhancing student achievement. (See also the Pedagogy- Teaching as inquiry section of the TLG.) 

Focusing inquiry

The starting point for the literacy investigation is the focusing inquiry in which the teachers asked: What are my students' language/communication needs and strengths? Evidence was then collected to answer this question by the two teachers:

  • Information from the school management system from year 10 – for example, asTTle data.
  • Samples of student writing (an activity to gauge understanding and ability to respond to questions based on an extract of nutritional information).
  • Prior knowledge of students, particularly subject specific language.
  • Consideration by the teachers of the language demands of both the content and context of the curriculum at level 6, as well as the achievement standards.
  • Consideration by the teachers of the gap between students' current ability to communicate ideas and the level needed to cope successfully with formative and summative tasks (links to Snapshot 1).

The achievement standards that align with level 6 (as well as levels 7 and 8) are prescriptive in terms of the cognitive descriptors (verbs) for the levels of performance (achievement, merit and excellence). Verbs common to the home economics standards at level 1 NCEA (level 6) are: 

  • Explain
  • Give an account
  • Give reasons (and relate them to....)
  • Consider and justify (excellence).   

This means that students need to be able to first give an account/details/description of the idea, and then expand upon this by giving reasons to justify why this is the case and/or what it means in the context of the topic/issue being discussed, and/or how it links with other pertinent aspects of the topic/issue.  

Teacher inquiry

Once the teachers had collected and discussed the information, they felt they had a sound idea of where their students were positioned.

Their question now was “What can we do to ensure our students can communicate their ideas at the level required?”

The next step was to adapt and create teaching and learning resources (as well as pace the learning) to suit students' needs and strengths. 

This moved the teachers to the teaching inquiry phase - consideration, development, and implementation of teaching and learning approaches to build on students' strengths and address their needs in order to enhance literacy and student achievement. 

Note that before this happened the teachers needed to develop their professional knowledge around effective literacy strategies and pedagogy. They did this by consulting with their school literacy leader, who recommended key MoE resources (see links below). The teaching and learning activities and approaches that were recommended to the teachers were:

  • Development of a home economics glossary for level 6 and regular vocabulary building activities.
  • Using critical thinking questions in discussions and for written responses. (See: Engaging students in critical thinking and action processes.)
  • Regular reading and writing activities (reading for meaning and purpose, responding to questions about a text).
  • Use of learning logs to provide ongoing feedback and feedforward. (See: BES exemplar 5: Learning logs.)
  • Collaborative group work and reading tasks.
  • Opportunity for structured/focussed independent research/inquiry - students able to make own meaning of information. 
  • Student led activities.
  • Deconstructing exemplars (NCEA answers or other pieces of writing).
  • Modelling written answers on the board: co-construct answers as a class.
  • Using writing frames and acronyms (could be negotiated with the students). 
  • Use the verbs from the level 1 NCEA Achievement Standards to practice writing passages in a range of contexts. Use of exam/assessment type resource material and questions throughout a unit/the year to practice NCEA conventions and demands. 

Learning inquiry

As the year progressed and various teaching/learning strategies were actioned, the learning inquiry phase came into play. This required the teachers to ask themselves (and each other) and their students:

  • "What happened as a result of the strategies and what can we build upon (or change) in order to be further responsive to the students' needs, strengths, and interests as well as foster ongoing success in level 1 NCEA?”

This brought the teachers back to the focusing inquiry - where are the students at now in terms of literacy and language skills? The cycle began again so that these deliberate strategies were then incorporated across the planned teaching and learning programme, and every unit of work contained a combination of a range of strategies.

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Last updated July 28, 2015