Subject-specific Literacy and numeracy.

We are addressing the disciplinary literacy and numeracy in the subject-specific area that I aim to teach on completion of my teaching degree. My passion is in the arts, hence this blog will be looking closely at disciplinary literacy and numeracy for art and drama.
There are three specialised concepts of literacy and numeracy being;
• Basic literacy and numeracy,
• Intermediate literacy and numeracy and
• Disciplinary literacy and numeracy. (Shanahan & Shanahan, 2012)
To describe disciplinary literacy and numeracy in brief is; greater in-depth comprehension of literacy and numeracy within each subjects structure. Literacy and numeracy is not one and the same in every subject area, hence teachers need to understand how to apply the principles of numeracy and literacy to their own specific subject discipline(Shanahan & Shanahan, 2012).
As a teacher’s subject approaches more complex/in depth content, disciplinary literacy and numeracy become imperative in providing students with the contextual understanding to more easily learn that subject matter. This will also help the students better prepare themselves for future jobs opportunities within the real world (Wenz, 2017).
Sir Francis Bacon said “knowledge is power” (, 2017). This implies that the more an individual knows about a subject or text, the more power you have in controlling or adapting the subject into daily life (Editors, 2017). Through jour understanding of literacy and numeracy and how it is a part of community and individual lives, having greater knowledge in a specific discipline helps us be fluent in that subject’s text. To have knowledge in a specific discipline means not only knowing how to implement the subject or activity but also why we need to do so (Johnson, Watson, Delahunty, McSwiggen, & Smith, 2011).
Art and drama are subjects that people generally don’t recognise as a subject with literacy and numeracy integrated into the curriculum. (Bela, 2014). Text can be adapted to all sorts of language. In these two types of disciplines, one does not actually have to be speaking for a receiver to understand the language text. The language used in art and through art is by observing the art piece and reading the emotions and story by its colour, movement, texture and sometimes actual text. (M. G. H. Education, 2005).
Communication skills in literacy, can be improved with the use of drama. Drama has been used to assist the improvement of student’s vocabulary, dialogue and writing skills, with subject-specific activities such as, team exercises, writing and reading role-plays, interpreting character through text and performance marketing (Farmer, 2017).
Artistic Mathematics is constantly used throughout the artistic proses from, brainstorming your ideas to trying to mount the art into its designated space (A. Education). An artist needs mathematics to measure, to enlarge/reduce the art piece, judging space given or not to areas, simple shape structures best suited to keep the piece balanced and upright (Graeme, 2014).
Drama uses mathematics with timing throughout a play, space on the stage, ticket pricing, space with props and backdrops and various other objects like costume adjustments (Bela, 2014).
In conclusion, developing discipline-specific knowledge for use in the classroom, will allow students to develop a greater understanding of the particular subject, and understanding why and how to apply the literacy and numeracy tools.


Bela. (2014, 14 June 20017). Numeracy in drama lessons. Retrieved from (2017). Francis Bacon Quotes. Retrieved from
Editors, B. c. (2017). Francis Bacon Retrieved from
Education, A. Numeracy fact sheet
Education, M. G. H. (2005). The elements of art. Retrieved from
Farmer, D. (2017). teaching literacy through drama. drama teaching features. Retrieved from
Graeme, T. i. (2014). Where’s the numeracy in the visual arts? Retrieved from
Johnson, H., Watson, P. A., Delahunty, T., McSwiggen, P., & Smith, T. (2011). What It Is They Do: Differentiating Knowledge and Literacy Practices across Content Disciplines. Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy, 55(2), 100-109. doi:10.1002/JAAL.00013
Shanahan, T., & Shanahan, C. (2012). What Is Disciplinary Literacy and Why Does It Matter? Topics in Language Disorders, 32(1), 7-18. doi:10.1097/TLD.0b013e318244557a
Wenz, R. G. a. C. (2017). Three direction for disciplinary literacy. In Literacy in Every Classroom.




Teaching literacy and numeracy authentically.

Educators of the 21st century are exposed to students with a variety of cultural backgrounds, interests and skills (Jones-Kavalier, 2006). Using a style of pedagogy known as authentic practices can help students learn from their individual interests. Authentic teaching and practices is undertaken when a teacher gathers information about the student’s life and then crafts learning activities based on their findings. This greatly assists in keeping the student engaged in learning (Cope, 2016).
An example to show true authentic practice is portrayed in the movie, Freedom Writers 2007 (LaGravenese, 2007). The movie tells the story about a young women who landed her first teaching job with very troubled students. These students show little interest in education and have been raised within racist society. Through her research and understanding her students, she finds their interests and creates activities to engage her students which eventuates in creating a class room of tolerance, acceptance and a desire for the students to yearn for education (Huggo).
Finding ways to adapt authentic practices with literacy and numeracy requires positive communication and research for the teacher to understand their students (Cope, 2016). Generally a student in high school will pick a subject that they are already interested in learning but it is also adapting that subject to their personal background and interest from home to be able to engage the student in progressing their abilities within that subject. It is important for an individual to understand where and how to apply literacy and numeracy in every aspect of life (Auld & Johnson, 2014). A teacher can effectively help students progress rapidly in their literacy and numeracy skill development, by planning effective teaching methods using the student specific authentic interests (Jaser, 2012).
Using authentic teaching practices within the visual arts subject.
Visual arts have five disciplines; drama media art, music, art, and dance (ACARA, 2015). Numeracy is not usually associated as a required skill for visual arts but on reflection, is necessary. Numeracy is required to measure materials, counting in time, expanding and reducing an object or design, patterns and shapes (Alberta).
Literacy is how we communicate and understand using mostly text and graphics. Artistic talent will often communicate a message through a variety of art forms. Communication can be achieved when the viewer’s literacy skill can ‘read’ what is or isn’t being communicated through the art (Art). A list of literacy class room practices include reading art history text, applying to art work, brain storming on how to create the art product and knowing how to express ones thoughts and feelings through the art piece (Alberta).
To authentically help a student learn literacy and numeracy through the subject of visual art, a ‘backwards method’ can be used. Backwards method is first knowing the students backgrounds and likes, then forming an activity to gain a learning opportunity for numeracy and literacy (Fancher, 2015).
Educators will be effective in inspiring students by using authentic practices and making the effort to learn of the culture and background of those they have a responsibility to teach. It can have a far reaching impact on how student learns and develop knowledge.

ACARA. (2015). The Arts.
Alberta. Literacy Fact Sheet.
Alberta. Numeracy fact sheet
Art, T. Literacy and Numeracy. Retrieved from
Auld, G., & Johnson, N. F. (2014). Connecting literacy learning outside of school to the Australian Curriculum in the middle years. Literacy Learning : the Middle Years, 22(2), 22-27.
Cope, K. (2016). [Authentic Literacy Pedagogy].
(2015). Part 1 Funds of knowlegde [Retrieved from
Huggo. Freedom Writers plot. Retrieved from
Jaser. (2012). What is Authentic Pedagogy. Retrieved from
Jones-Kavalier, B. R., & Flannigan, S.L. (2006). Connecting the Digital Dots: Literacy of the 21st Century.
LaGravenese, R. (Writer). (2007). Freedom Writers In.


Mathematics and Numeracy…What’s the difference?

The fundamentals of mathematics and numeracy are similar and can be difficult to differentiate between them. These two subjects have the same foundation as they require the use of mathematical knowledge to solve problems however, these terms are not interchangeable (Alberta). As the two elements are very similar, this blog aims to provide a better understanding of both the rudiments of mathematics compared to numeracy.
Since they are very similar, it can be confusing to recognize if there is indeed, a difference. The online dictionary provides the following definitions.
• Mathematics: A group of related sciences, including algebra, geometry, and calculus, concerned with the study of number, quantity, shape, and space and their interrelationships by using a specialized notation (Co, 2012).
• Numeracy: The ability to use numbers, esp. in arithmetical operations (Co., 2012).
Both elements are interrelated. To help form a greater understanding of their interrelationship, Figure 1 below provides a visual interpretation. Figure 1 was found on a numeracy fact sheet that Alberta education provides for public access2 (Alberta).

Figure1:Venn Diagram depicting the inter-relationships of mathematical skills, contextual understanding and confidence. Summing up Numeracy.

Figure 1 shows that mathematics; the study of number, quantity, space and shape is a component of numeracy. There are two other components to numeracy, being contextual understanding and confidence.
Numeracy involves examining a situation, (for example figuring out how much time you have left to complete a task) understanding the mathematics equation to achieve a solution and reaching an educated decision using the context of mathematics (Liljedahl, 2013).
Listed below are some differences between mathematics and numeracy in an everyday life situations to support the above description.

Situation 1- Figuring out how much time you have left before going to work
• Mathematics – using the correct calculation to figure out the amount of time before needing to leave for work.
• Numeracy – understanding time and how long it takes to get ready.

Situation 2 – Choosing the cheapest mobile phone plan.
• Mathematics – calculating the difference in the plans and know how much you will save or spend.
• Numeracy – understanding your budget and what you can afford (Alberta)

Situation 3 – The cost of petrol.
• Mathematics – how many liters to be filled and the cost per liter.
• Numeracy – knowing how to calculate the cost and budgeting it in.
The ability to use mathematics to understand and work with numbers, being numeracy, is an important skill in the 21st century. According to Thoughtful Learning K12, the 21st Century skills are necessary for students to navigate the information age in which we now live (learning, 2007). See appendix 1 for the P21 Framework for 21st Century Learning. This was developed to define and illustrate the skills and knowledge students need to succeed in work, life and citizenship as well as systems necessary for 21st century learning outcomes4 (learning, 2007).
Prior to the 21st Century an average individual could successfully navigate life with basic mathematics and were considered numerate (DifferenceBetween.Com., 2012). In the world we now live, more numeracy skill is required to function in the 21st century. The information age has changed the way banking, financing, budgeting, home renovations, contract negotiation, landscaping, maintenance and most requiring technical computer skills. Numeracy includes the willingness and awareness of using information technology to navigate the mathematics required to be confident in living everyday life (DifferenceBetween.Com., 2012).
In conclusion numeracy is a fundamental skill to help an individual progress in life with the understanding how to solve mathematical equations. Mathematics is the knowledge in numbers and space to solving life equations.




Alberta. Numeracy fact sheet
Co, W. C. S. (Ed.) (2012) Collins English Dictionary. Harper Collins Publishers.
Co., W. C. S. (Ed.) (2012) Collins English Dictionary. Harper Collins Publishers.
DifferenceBetween.Com. (2012). Difference Between Numeracy and Mathematics. Retrieved from >
learning, P. p. f. s. c. (2007). Framework for 21st century learning.
Liljedahl, P. L., M. (2013). Numeracy Vector, 2, 34-39.

Literacy and Numeracy, general capabilities in the Australian curriculum

Literacy and numeracy, general capabilities in the Australian curriculum

This blog will discuss the general capabilities  also the literacy and numeracy capabilities in the Australian curriculum. There are seven general capabilities to understand within the third dimension (Australian curriculum assessment and reporting association (ACARA, 2013). They are:

  1. Critical and creative thinking,
  2. Information and communication technology capability,
  3. Personal and social capability,
  4. Ethical understanding,
  5. Intercultural understanding,
  6. Literacy,
  7. Numeracy.

The aim is to give a better understanding of the literacy and numeracy capabilities in the Australian curriculum. To achieve this we first need to understand literacy and numeracy.

Literacy and numeracy is best described as, the skills to navigate and make meaning in an increasingly complex and changing world.  These skills are also the means through which individual’s access and understand information. Literacy and numeracy are foundational to successful living, learning and working in today’s society (Education).

An effective literate thinker entails being able to have the confidence to engage with the language of the 21st century and to be able to read, write and communicate meaning in all aspects of life (Association, 2015). A numerate thinker is considered to be able to understand quantitative and spatial information and to form educated decisions in every aspect of life (DifferenceBetween.Com., 2012).

Literacy and numeracy are both very important elements in life with the same aim, goals and purposes.  Obtaining skills in both literacy and numeracy can open doors and opportunities for individuals to support the ability to achieve personal goals and set the foundation of an improved quality of life (Education).  Literacy skills can give you the strong confidence to be able to engage in a life of learning and being active in the community and society.

Numeracy assist an individual in calculating the cost of living, judging distance in variety of activities (i.e. sports), fitting objects in to a confined space (i.e. filling up a cookie jar)navigating a map, chart and recipe changing(Education).

For literacy and numeracy to support the societal needs for the next generation, educational subjects must be learned in different contexts to assist in the development of the communities future (Education).

I have listed subjects with an example for each literacy and numeracy to help understand how the techniques can be applied to subjects other than English and Math.

  • Music
    – reading, writing and playing music (Education).
    – timing to compose and playing music (Education).
  • Science
    – engaging in brainstorming sessions to produce answers to research questions.
    -measuring and figuring out estimation on experiments to gain a sound result.

In conclusion the capabilities in the Australian curriculum for literacy and numeracy support the emerging educators in supporting students to develop into a self-reliant productive contributing citizens.


ACARA. (2013). General Capabilities

Association, I. L. (2015). Why Literacy. Retrieved from

DifferenceBetween.Com. (2012). Difference Between Numeracy and Mathematics. Retrieved from >

Education, A. Literacy and Numeracy progression.

Education, A. Literacy Fact Sheet.

Education, A. Numeracy fact sheet