We’re learning more about literacy and essential skills

We’re learning more about literacy and essential skills

You may have noticed that the NWT Literacy Council’s office was closed last Thursday and Friday. If you were wondering where we all were, read on!

Last November, the NWT Literacy Council staff travelled to Calgary to receive literacy and essential skills training from Pat Salt. That training focused on exploring the many definitions of essential skills. Pat is an excellent instructor, and we all took a lot away from this experience. Still, there was so much more to learn.

Last week, Pat came to Yellowknife to build on the training that we did last year. This time, we got into the details of why, and how to embed essential skills, using mostly those defined by the Government of Canada. We discussed two main reasons to embed essential skills: to break down barriers to accessible training or education, and to build individual literacy and essential skills. Sometimes we do both at the same time.

We used an artifact-based approach. This means starting with a document ­— a book, a recipe, an order form, a video outline — and breaking it down into the essential skills that you might need to use this document. Then, we rebuilt the document as a series of activities with embedded literacy and essential skills. 

For example, if you look at an order form, you might see that you need to know how to calculate percentages to figure out your deposit. You might need to understand unit prices, budget for an event, understand terms and conditions, know how to format dates, and be aware of how interest works if you are paying with a credit card. That’s a lot to tackle all at once! However, if you start by breaking these elements down and building embedded literacy activities around each element, you make the task less overwhelming.

This approach works well because it is so flexible. It also encourages creativity. Mostly, we found that we had too many ideas rather than too few! I’m looking forward to using this training to develop new resources, and using it to update old resources. You can access NWT Literacy Council resources on our website at www.nwtliteracy.ca .

— Emily Smith

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