The recent changes to specifications have meant that many pupils studying GCSE Science have had to come to a shocking realisation. To achieve good marks they will have to write more than a sentence for many of the questions and bullet points will be a big no-no!
Panic swept across Science departments across the country. How do we teach our pupils to write? All of a sudden Science teachers were leaving their prep rooms during break and searching out the habitat of the English teachers. English teachers were fast becoming our new best friends – or so we hoped!
Personally, I have found it a struggle to help my GCSE pupils use the skills they have developed in their English lessons, in their Science lessons. This struggle prompted me to attend a ‘Literacy in Science’ session at the recent ASE London Conference. The session was led by Julia Leewood, Assessment/Science consultant in Camden, and Alison Pyle, Camden’s Literacy Consultant. The session discussed much more than just how to do well in extended writing questions in Science, but that is the part of the session I will focus on here.
Julia and Alison provided us with detailed notes and explanations of how the skills needed to answer the new six mark questions could be introduced to pupils. A lesson plan was provided and example questions and model answers were discussed. The session was delivered in the same format that the lesson should be delivered to a KS4 class, and this really helped to consolidate the ideas and the structure that were being presented. Although there wasn’t much time to go through everything, by the end of the session you were left with such a clear picture that you wondered why you haven’t been doing it that way from day one!
After the session I adapted what I had learnt from Julia and Alison and delivered the lesson to my Year 10 triple-scientists. I haven’t yet been able to see what effect the lesson has had on their ability to answer 6 mark questions, however many pupils did remark after the lesson that the structures discussed did seem very straightforward. They commented that their thoughts would be a lot more organised when they have to answer 6 mark questions in the future.
Below is the PowerPoint used with my Year 10s.
There are also links here to…
All of the above work has been adapted from the fantastic resources provided by Julia and Alison so many thanks for their excellent training.
To contact Julia or Alison use the information below:
Julia Leewood – Science & Assessment
Alison Pyle – Secondary Literacy
School Improvement Service
020 7974 1623