Exemplars / Commentaries for National 4: Literacy

This section has been designed to help practitioners and learners understand the expected standards for the Reading and Writing Outcomes in the National Literacy Unit.

The general aim of the National Literacy Unit is to develop learners' reading, listening, writing and talking skills in a variety of forms relevant for learning, life and work. Learners will develop the ability to understand straightforward ideas and information presented orally and in writing. Learners will also develop the ability to communicate ideas and information orally and in writing with technical accuracy.


Assessment Standard

Outcome 3: Write straightforward technically accurate texts by:

3.1 Selecting and using appropriate language

3.2 Organising writing appropriately

3.3 Using appropriate spelling, grammar and punctuation

Example of writing task

Write a review of a book you have read recently. It should be at least 300 words long.

Learner response

Below is a learner's response to the exercise. You should read and consider this before attempting the practitioner task

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time by Mark Haddon

I have just finished this book and I would say it is one of the weirdest but best books I have ever read.

It's about a boy who has something called Asperger's syndrome. It means he has a very strange way of seeing the world and he notices different things from other people. The book is written through his eyes and all the time you get to know what he is thinking. The main story is that he is trying to find out who killed his neighbours dog. He likes solving mysteries and his hero is Sherlock Holmes so he is trying to solve it like a detective.

The first strange thing I noticed about the book was the way the chapters were numbered. It started with chapter 2 and I thought some of the book had been ripped out. Then I saw that the other numbers weren't in order. Christopher, the person in the book, likes maths and tells you that he has used prime numbers for the chapters. He also uses pictures to explain long maths problems. These were far too long for me - I could have done without that bit.

Christopher had trouble reading people's faces because he couldn't understand their expressions. He drew little happy and sad faces (like the smileys from e-mail) and that helped him understand. I thought that was really clever.

Like Christopher, I wanted to know who killed the dog. I was shocked like him to find out it was his Dad. I felt really sorry for Christopher because he became frightened of his Dad and also because his Mum had run away. It was even worse than that because his Dad had told him she was dead. But I ended up feeling sorry for everyone because Christopher must have been really hard to live with, he had so many strange habits like refusing to eat anything yellow or brown. The writer of the book did a really good job because he made Christopher seem like a real person. I would understand people like him a bit better now if I met them.

I wouldn't like to read to many books with Christopher in them as he would get a bit annoying after a while but I am really glad I read this one. You should read it too. I think Mark Haddon is a great writer.

Task for practitioner

Before you complete the exercise below, you should read the learner's response and then attempt the task.

Only when you have looked at all of this and considered the assessment standards for Outcome 2 should you complete the exercise below.

Exercise - book review?

  1. Is the learner's writing suitable for the purpose and audience?
  2. Does it contain all essential information and some supporting detail?
  3. Is there evidence of a clear structure?
  4. Are spelling, grammar and punctuation mainly accurate and is the meaning clear at first reading?

For each question explain and make a note of your reasons.

Would the learner pass?

The task to write a review of a book you have read recently is a suitable one to enable learners to achieve the Assessment Standards necessary for Literacy at National 4.

The exemplar learner response does meet Assessment Standard 3.1 for National 4 Literacy as the language employed does communicate meaning at a first reading and it is more than 300 words in length. The learner uses a style that is appropriate to the genre of a book review.

The writing is organised in a way that conforms to an evaluation of the text. It begins with a general synopsis and then identifies areas that are important to the learner's appreciation of the novel. There is a sense of genuine enjoyment and an engagement with the text. The learner does achieve the requirements for Assessment Standard 3.2 at this level.

The spelling, grammar and punctuation are, generally, appropriate for the level. There are occasional slips in language and syntax, however these do not impede understanding. The learner has used a range of vocabulary to express reactions to the text. The piece of writing does meet the requirements for Assessment Standard 3.3.