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"Kidspeaking" the literacy progressions

When teacher Natasha Jacobs wanted to enable her students to be actively involved in assessment, she set out to simplify the The Literacy Learning Progressions "terms of criteria".

Teaching inquiry

Natasha, a previous teacher at Irongate School, wanted to personalise her Literacy programme. She was using The Literacy Learning Progressions within her mahi, and wanted her students to be actively involved in the entire process. This would require her students to access and interact with the criteria in a deep manner. Natasha realised the academic language of the progressions posed barriers to students' understanding, and saw the need to translate them into a language that students would be able to understand and interact with. At Irongate, they were already using 'kidspeaked' learning intentions in their writing programme. The teachers appreciated how this allowed students to understand what they were learning, what the next steps would look like, and how they could master them. They also appreciated how this allowed them to easily plan for diversified and meaningful scaffolded learning for their students. As students shared how they felt this empowered and progressed their learning, teachers came to realise the obvious next step was to do the same with the reading progressions.

The process

Natasha put a "call" out through the Virtual Learning Network to enlist the help of other teachers who would be keen to help with the enormous task of translating the progressions. (Note: If you aren't already a member of the VLN you will need to register first).

There were – and so began the project of forming a group to recraft the literacy reading progressions into "kidspeak".

Several teachers joined the group and, using Skype to connect with each other as well as Google Docs to share documents, the group set about to come up with generic phrases that students would be likely to understand and use, replacing the more academic language of the progressions.

They cross-moderated and checked for alignment, while throughout they ensured that the integrity of each criteria statement was maintained.

Teaching and learning

Kid-speaking the Progressions

Kidspeaking the progressions

Watch Natasha discussing the benefits of making the progressions accessible to students, including: 

  • unpacking with teachers
  • empowering the teachers by allowing them to own the document
  • unpacking the threads of learning, and
  • taking the progressions to the students.

As a staff, they discussed the collaborative reading document contained within the VLN, Literacy progressions matrix discussion thread. The Literacy Team has since created a series of documents aligned to the Language Learning Progressions following the format of our writing documents.  

Remember, it is important that teachers use a range of sources of evidence when making overall judgements about student achievement.

Find out about the most commonly used assessment tools in New Zealand schools.


View the recrafted reading and writing progressions.

Irongate School examples
Kid-speaking the Progressions 0
Kid-speaking the Progressions 1
Kid-speaking the Progressions 5

The results of sharing their translations brought many positive comments from beginning to experienced teachers. In particular the students made comments about how they knew what they were learning, how this helped them to make their writing better for an audience, and how they enjoyed conferencing and the 1-1 time to talk about their writing. Most importantly their improved enjoyment of writing is reflected in the words of one student:


It's fun now because I know how to write better


Next steps

Irongate School's next steps are to:     

  • work as a staff to fully unpack the statements and look at the threads of learning to develop implicit understanding of how to move our students from, for example, end of year 4 to end of year 6 level
  • trial using the documents in the classroom in much the same way as we have with writing and sharing how, and reflecting as a staff on the impact of this
  • develop a school-wide programme.

Links to other information and stories

Read this related story: 

View the recrafted reading and writing progressions:

Find out about assessment tools :

Out of this work the question also arose 'How can technologies support students literacy learning?'. Listen to these podcasts with similar messages: