Teaching approaches: Language

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Teaching Approaches

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Readers should refer to the section on Dialogue for guidance on dialogue. Readers should also consider the specific guidance given in the sections Mathematical thinking and Thinking like a scientist.

1 Developing Reading

1.1 Recent research into reading comprehension (or making meaning from texts)

Over the last few years there has been a renewed research interest (Pressley 2000, Kintsch 1998) into what is called, in the USA, ‘reading comprehension’. This renewed research interest is not, however, a return to the concept of comprehension current in the period from 1945 to 1980. At that time the research was characterised by attempts to identify the sub-skills of comprehension, then to establish some sort of hierarchy and then to teach these identified skills to pupils in progressive order. (Such an approach is still to be found in some reading comprehension exercises.) Rather, the renewed research focus is based on seeing the child as actively engaging with the text to create meaning. It emphasises the acquisition of strategies whilst engaged in authentic reading, rather than being taught as a separate suite of skills; it has broadened the range of strategies to include both cognitive and interpretive strategies and it uses a problem-solving approach. It also recognises the impact of reader differences and the wider socio- cultural context within which any act of reading takes place.

Pressley (2000) has undertaken a major research review in this field and he offers a list of approaches to reading development, and particularly comprehension development, which represent an up-to-date synthesis of all the major strands of research-derived strategies for improving reading. Some of it is particular to Key Stages 1 and 2, but much of it is directly relevant to Key Stage 3.

Pressley’s list of strategies places considerable emphasis on various forms of vocabulary work. The importance of vocabulary development is also stressed in the US government’s National Reading Panel Report (NRP 2000), which has undertaken a review of the research evidence regarding effective teaching of reading. In looking at reading comprehension it examined 230 research studies and noted three main themes in the research on the development of reading comprehension skills.

First, reading comprehension is a complex cognitive process that cannot be understood without a clear description of the role that vocabulary development and vocabulary instruction play in the understanding of what has been read.

Second, comprehension is an active process that requires an intentional and thoughtful interaction between the reader and the text.

Third, the preparation of teachers to better equip students to develop and apply reading comprehension strategies to enhance understanding is intimately linked to students’ achievement in this area.

Extract from the US government’s National Reading Panel Report 2000, National Reading Panel. Used with permission.

The second element (intentional and thoughtful engagement between the reader and the text) is also stressed in Pressley’s list which puts emphasis on a number of ways in which the student’s comprehension might be enhanced through making connections and considering responses. Such activities are characterised as being cognitive and social, and are also active (for example rehearsing prior knowledge, generating mental images, activating knowledge about text structure) and interactive (for example asking ‘why’ questions, engaging in reciprocal teaching, working with the teacher and peers).

This emphasis on collaborative and/or interactive approaches to reading comprehension has been a characteristic of research in the field over the past 10 years and draws on theoretical perspectives from the cognitive sciences (for example from schema theory and story grammar) and socio-cultural perspectives (for example the ‘teaching models’ of Vygotsky and Bruner). The model of teaching advocated by Pressley and the NRPR is therefore a balance of direct instruction along with teacher modelling and guided practice, leading to independent practice and autonomy. This model is one which is reflected in KS3 training.

Both Pressley and the NRPR research overview on comprehension emphasise the crucial role of the teacher in explicitly encouraging the use of comprehension strategies. The NRPR cites evidence to show that the pupils of teachers who consciously included reading comprehension strategies within their reading programmes made better progress in their reading. It seems that comprehension improves when teachers provide explicit instruction in comprehension strategies and when teachers design and implement activities that support understanding (Tharp 1992). Explicitly planning to include such strategies within shared and guided reading would therefore seem to be an essential part of a successful reading programme.

The importance of having a range of learning strategies

It seems from the research quoted above that there is a growing consensus about the kinds of experiences pupils need in order to develop their reading comprehension, in the teaching model and in the range of strategies that might be helpful. The NRPR drew attention to the importance of pupils having a range of reading comprehension strategies. Work in cognitive psychology has shown that pupils need to have access to a range of strategies to enable development to take place. Siegler (2000) in a recent overview into learning and development makes the point that learners need a range of ‘production strategies’ (ways of doing things) and that having a wide range of production strategies is important for development to take place. Learners, he claims, add to their repertoire of strategies by

  • observation (watching someone do it);
  • discovery/invention (finding out for themselves);
  • direct instruction (explain, show, tell, practise, feed back);
  • analogy (if this works for X it might also work for Y).

They then go on to refine these strategies by

  • automation (practising it until it becomes habitual);
  • reflection (doing something and then thinking about it);
  • examination (i.e. social examination, comparing and contrasting with others). Access to a range of strategies is important for development but also to accommodate pupils’ different learning styles. Research into brain function has shown that different areas of the brain are used when different kinds of thinking and learning are required. Some pupils show a marked preference for strategies that require a particular type of learning to be used. Using a range of strategies ensures that pupils can use not only those strategies that they prefer but also those that require other types of learning to be stimulated. Howard Gardner (1993) has identified seven different aspects of learning. These are
  • linguistic or verbal;
  • visual/spatial;
  • logical/mathematical;
  • physical/kinaesthetic;
  • musical;
  • interpersonal;
  • metacognitive.

Robert Fisher gives a useful summary of strategies to enhance these different types of learning in his book Teaching children to learn (1995).

The importance of metacognitive awareness in reading comprehension

Siegler (2000) sees the pupil as moving from acquiring strategies to being able to reflect on their usefulness and compare them with others. This implies a level of conscious decision-making by the pupil. This ‘self-awareness’ and ability to reflect is important in learning. Gardner (1993) lists metacognitive intelligence as one of the types of learning, but it is one that, until recently, was rarely actively encouraged in many classrooms. Vygotsky (1962) suggested that there are two stages in the development of knowledge: firstly there is automatic unconscious acquisition (we learn things or do things but do not know that we know these things), and secondly there is a gradual increase in active conscious control over that knowledge (we begin to know that we know and that there is more we do not know). The second of these is a metacognitive level of understanding. Over the last decade we have become increasingly aware of the importance of metacognition in learning to read (Baker and Brown 1984). One of the characteristics distinguishing younger readers from older readers, and poorer readers from fluent readers, is that younger and poorer readers often do not recognise when they have not understood a text (Garner and Reis 1981); that is, there is evidence that they are not actively aware of their own level of understanding and are therefore not able to make an autonomous decision to use a strategy to enhance their understanding. Other readers show a greater awareness of their own level of understanding for they will stop when a text does not make sense to them. Some will then go on to select from their range of strategies that which might help overcome their problem.

In shared and guided reading sessions we can model for pupils how fluent readers monitor their understanding and use strategies to clarify their own understanding. These may range from semantic strategies to work out a troublesome word to sophisticated reflections on whether the meaning is deliberately obscure (as in a mystery) or perhaps challenging the author/text because the reader thinks they are incorrect. Such teacher modelling is an important part of the learning opportunities within reading sessions. The work of Gerry Duffy and Laura Roehler (Duffy et al. 1987; Duffy and Roehler 1989) concerning teacher demonstration and modelling is the one most often referred to.

References

  • Baker, L. and Brown, A. L. (1984) ‘Metacognitive skills and reading’. In D. Pearson (ed) Handbook of reading research. Longman. ISBN: 0805841504.
  • Duffy, G. G. and Roehler, L. R. (1989) ‘Why strategy instruction is so difficult and what we need to do about it’. In C. B. McCormick, G. Miller and M. Pressley (eds) Cognitive strategy research: from basic research to educational applications, pp. 133–154. Springer-Verlag. ISBN: 0837968695.
  • Duffy, G. G. et al. (1987) ‘Effects of explaining the reasoning associated with using reading strategies’. Reading Research Quarterly 22, 347–368.
  • Fisher, R. (1995) Teaching children to learn. Nelson Thornes. ISBN: 074872091X.
  • Gambrell, L. B., Morrow, L. M., Neuman, S. B. and Pressley, M. (1999) Best practices in literacy instruction. Guilford Publications. ISBN: 1572304421.
  • Gardner, H. (1993) Frames of mind: the theory of multiple intelligences. Basic Books. ISBN: 0465025102.
  • Garner, R. and Reis, R. (1981) ‘Monitoring and resolving comprehension obstacles: an investigation of spontaneous text lookbacks among upper grade good and poor comprehenders’. Reading Research Quarterly 16, 569–582.
  • Harrison, C. (2002) Roots and research. Ref. DfES 0353/2002. Available on the Key Stage 3 website www.standards.dfes.gov.uk/keystage3/publications.
  • Harrison, C. (2002) ‘What does research tell us about how to develop comprehension?’ In R. Fisher, G. Brooks and M. Lewis (eds) Raising standards in literacy. Routledge. ISBN: 0415263506.
  • Kintsch, W. (1998) Comprehension: a paradigm for cognition. Cambridge University Press. ISBN: 0521629861.
  • National Reading Panel (2000) Report of the National Reading Panel. Government Printing Office, Washington DC. Available at www.nationalreadingpanel.org.
  • Pressley, M. (2000) ‘What should comprehension instruction be the instruction of?’ In M. Kamil, P. B. Mosenthal, P. D. Pearson and R. Barr (eds) Handbook of Reading Research 3, 545–62. Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.
  • Tharp (1992) ‘The effective instruction of comprehension’. Reading Research Quarterly 17:4, 503–27.
  • Siegler, R. (2000) ‘The rebirth of pupils’ learning’. Child Development, 71:7, 26–35.
  • Voygotsky, L. (1962) Thought and language. MIT Press. (Adapted from Improving Reading - Research Summary, section Whole).

2 Improving Writing

2.1 Choice of teaching strategies can make a difference

In a meta-analysis of research looking at a range of studies on teaching strategies in secondary classrooms, three broad approaches to the teaching of writing were identified (Hillocks 1986)

  • presentational: where the role of the teacher is that of setting tasks and marking outcomes;
  • process: where the pupil controls the writing choice and writing is developed through drafts and peer-conferencing (Graves 1983; Calkins 1988);
  • environmental: a more guided, negotiated approach where active teaching of complex strategies supports pupils towards independent use (Australian genre theorists).

The study suggests that the latter approach is two or three times more effective than the ‘process’ approach and four times more effective than the ‘presentational’ approach because

  • new forms and criteria for writing are modelled;
  • enquiry and problem-solving processes are involved;
  • distinct features are identified and pupils are helped to apply these in their own independent writing.

Effective teaching of writing will depend on the degree to which teachers understand the complexity of the task (Schulman 1987).

Clear, focused writing objectives support pupils

Tightly structured lessons, which establish a clear sense of purpose and direction through clearly defined achievable targets, benefit all pupils but especially boys (Frater 1998).

Writing needs to be purposeful and offer pupils a stake in the negotiation of meaningful opportunities for expressing their interests (Britton et al. 1975). This is crucial for maintaining the interest of boys. Teachers have been slow to use boys’ particular knowledge of media and information technology and to link preferred writing to their preferred reading of factual ‘real world’ texts (Daly 1999). There is clear agreement in research on the need to integrate activities in writing around purposeful, authentic learning tasks.

use of shared reading as a bridge to writing

Teachers need to provide good examples of texts so that pupils are able jointly to investigate and analyse the features as readers or as writers. Callaghan and Rothery (1998) suggest that there are three stages in this approach

  • modelling: teacher shares information about the uses and features of the text type (genre);
  • joint construction: teacher and pupils work together to construct a new text sharing the same generic features;
  • independent construction: pupils construct a new text in the same genre, drafting and editing in consultation with peers and the teacher.

American researchers Nystrand, Gamoran and Carbonaro (1998) found that writing achievement was positively related to the degree of coherence between reading, writing and discussion (peer response) in secondary classrooms. Research with older primary pupils suggests that teaching writing in combination with reading prompts better critical thinking about texts than when the activities are isolated.

Writing at Key Stage 3 involves learning to read from multiple sources and writing critically in response. Writers need to be able to organise more complex information and to orchestrate, control and reflect upon their writing of a wide range of fiction and non-fiction texts (Hillocks 1995).

Explicit teaching and modelling language choices Anticipating the needs of their audience and understanding the reader/writer relationship require clarity of objectives, purpose and task. Teachers need to be clear with pupils how the audience and purpose for their piece of writing will determine the structural and linguistic choices they make as writers (Cope and Kalantzis 1993).

Australian genre theorists have shown how reading–writing links can be productive, particularly in teaching non-fiction writing. They advocate explicit teaching of how texts work in order that pupil writers can construct texts and organise their own ideas for particular purposes and audiences effectively (Halliday 1985).

Exploration of texts can help writers access a range of ‘discourses of power’, that is ways of writing used by people to organise and influence the world around them (Martin 1989). Many aspects of written information texts can be explored directly with pupils to create awareness of the different language resources that serve different purposes (Christie 1998, Derewianka 1990, Hasan and Martin 1989, Kress 1982).

Evidence shows that teachers can support pupils in managing complexity by modelling the power of sentence-combining activities (Shaughnessy 1979). Modelling is more than ‘demonstrating’ writing because it involves talking pupils through the thinking and decision-making processes used when writers write. The teacher takes the role as ‘expert’ (Vygotsky 1980). The use of metacognition and meta-language are important factors. Pupils need a supportive writing environment but benefit from seeing and experiencing the ‘struggles’ that are part of developing the writing skills (Bereiter and Scardamalia 1982, 1987).

Guided writing Guided writing offers small-group teaching opportunities to support writers in making valuable connections between the text-, sentence- and word-level decisions required to shape texts with particular criteria in mind. Teachers can clarify the cognitive processes used when pupils are planning and revising, before, during or after writing parts of a text. The aim is to develop better-focused and more fluent writing with the support and feedback of teacher and peers (Scardamalia et al. 1981).

Scaffolding Scaffolding is an effective process by which the teacher organises learning that is challenging to pupils in such a way as to assist them to carry out the new task successfully (Wood et al. 1976). It is a complex process and involves

  • activating and maintaining the learner’s interest;
  • reducing the number of choices available;
  • keeping the pupils on-task;
  • highlighting critical aspects;
  • controlling frustration;
  • demonstrating the process to pupils.

Scaffolding has a role in moving pupils to independent use of new strategies by supporting them as co-constructors of knowledge and co-users of more expert strategies than those they can control independently (Palincsar 1986). Writing frames are just one example of scaffolds, but their misuse has underlined the complexities in the process of pupils becoming sufficiently independent to manage without the ‘expert facilitator’ (Lewis and Wray 2000).

Feedback and revision Since writing involves the integration of several processes, re-reading to revise is important (Norwood, Hayes and Flower 1980). Chanquoy (2001) shows the positive effect of returning to writing after the event. The time delay seems to help, but the techniques for revising need to be explicitly taught, that is modelled by the teacher. Glynn et al. (1989), behavioural psychologists researching in New Zealand classrooms, found considerable evidence that positive oral feedback has an impact on both motivation and the amount written. This was found to be more significant when errors were selectively targeted and when pupils were involved in error correction and praised for this. The research suggests that teachers’ comments should be organisational, encouraging, constructive, challenging and push pupils’ thinking. The work of Black and Wiliam (1998) and Black et al. (2002) looks at formative assessment and its relationship to raising standards in pupils’ learning. They comment that effective feedback needs to make explicit to pupils what is involved in producing high-quality writing and what steps are needed for improvement. They suggest that pupils should be actively engaged in the thinking and discussion involved.

References

  • Bereiter, C. and Scardamalia, M. (1982) ‘From conversation to composition: the role of instruction in the developmental process’. In R. Glaser (ed) Advances in instructional psychology. Lawrence Erlbaum Associates. ISBN: 0898594227.
  • Bereiter, C. and Scardamalia, M. (1987) The psychology of written composition.

Lawrence Erlbaum Associates. ISBN: 0805800387.

  • Black, P. and Wiliam, D. (1998) Inside the black box: raising standards through classroom assessment. King’s College, London. ISBN:1871984688.
  • Black, P., Harrison, C., Lee, C., Marshall, B. and Wiliam, D. (2002) Working inside the black box: assessment for learning in the classroom. King’s College, London. ISBN: 1871984394.
  • Britton, J. et al. (1975) The development of writing abilities (11–18). Macmillan. ISBN: 0333178629.
  • Calkins, L. M. (1988) The art of teaching writing. Heinemann. ISBN: 0435082469.
  • Callaghan, M. and Rothery, J. (1998) Teaching factual writing: a genre-based approach. NSW Board of Education, Australia.
  • Chanquoy, L. (2001) ‘How to make it easier for children to revise their writing, a study of text revision from 3rd to 5th grades’. British Journal of Educational Psychology 71, 15–41.
  • Christie, F. (1998) Literacy and schooling. Routledge. ISBN: 0415170176.
  • Cope, B. and Kalantzis, M. (1993) The powers of literacy: a genre approach to teaching writing. Falmer Press. ISBN: 0822911795.
  • Daly, C. (1999) ‘Reading boys’. In J. Miller (ed) Changing English 6:1. Carfax Publishing.
  • Derewianka, B. (1990) Exploring how texts work. PETA, Australia. ISBN: 0909955905.
  • Frater, G. (1998) ‘Boys and literacy’. In K. Bleach (ed) Raising boys’ achievement in schools. Trentham Books. ISBN: 1858561035.
  • Glynn, T., Crooks, T., Bethune, N., Ballard, K. and Smith, J. (1989) Reading recovery in context. Report to Research and Statistics Division, New Zealand Department of Education.
  • Graves, D. (1983) Writing: teachers and children at work. Heinemann. ISBN: 0435102710.
  • Halliday, M. A. K. (1985) A short introduction to functional grammar. Edward Arnold.
  • Hasan, R. and Martin, J. R. (1989) ‘Language development: learning language, learning culture’. Meaning and Choice in Language 1.
  • Hayes, J. R. and Nash, J. G. (1996) ‘On the nature of planning in writing’. In C. M. Levy and T. S. Randall (eds) The science of writing. Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.
  • Hillocks, G. (1986) Research on written composition: new directions for teaching. NCTE, Urbana. ISBN: 0814140750.
  • Hillocks, G. (1995) Teaching writing as reflective practice. NY Teachers College Press. ISBN: 0807734330.
  • Holdaway, D. (1979) Foundations of literacy. Scholastic. ISBN: 0868960144.
  • Kress, G. (1982) Learning to write. Routledge. ISBN: 071009048X.
  • Kress, G. and Van Leeuwen, T. (1996) Reading images: the grammar of visual design. Routledge. ISBN: 0415106001.
  • Lewis, M. and Wray, D. (2000) Literacy in the secondary school. David Fulton. ISBN: 1853466557.
  • Martin, J. R. (1989) Factual writing: exploring and challenging social reality. Oxford University Press. ISBN: 0194371581.
  • Millard, E. (2001) ‘Aspects of gender: how boys’ and girls’ experiences of reading shape their writing’. In J. Evans (ed) The writing classroom. David Fulton.
  • Norwood, N. J., Hayes, J. R. and Flower, L. S. (1980) ‘Identifying the organisation of writing processes’. In L. Gregg and E. R. Steinberg (eds) Cognitive processes in writing. Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.
  • Nystrand, M., Gamoran, A. and Carbonaro, W. (1998) Towards an ecology of learning: the case of classroom discourse and its effects on writing development in high school English and social studies. Albany.
  • Palincsar, A. S. (1986) ‘The role of dialogue in provided scaffolded instruction’. Educational Psychologist 21, 73–98.
  • Perera, K. (1989) Children’s writing and reading: analysing classroom language.

Basil Blackwell/Andre Deutsch Ltd. ISBN: 0631136541.

  • Pressley, M., El-Dinary, P. B., Marks, M. B., Brown, R. and Stein, S. (1992) ‘Good strategy instruction is motivating and interesting’. In K. A. Renniger, S. Hidi, and A. Krapp (eds) The role of interest in learning and development. Lawrence Erlbaum Associates. ISBN: 0805807187.
  • Scardamalia, M., Bereiter, B. and Fillion, B. (1981) Writing for results: a sourcebook of consequential composing activities. OISE Press. ISBN: 0896881849.
  • Schulman, L. S. (1987) ‘Knowledge and teaching: foundations of the new reform’. Harvard Educational Review 57.
  • Sharples, M. (1999) How we write: writing as creative design. Routledge. ISBN: 0415185866.
  • Shaughnessy, M. P. (1979) Errors and expectations: a guide for the teacher of basic writing. Oxford University Press. ISBN: 0195025075.
  • Vygotsky, L. (1980) Mind in society (ed M. Cole et al.). Harvard University Press. ISBN: 0674576292.
  • Wood, D., Bruner, J. S. and Ross, G. (1976) ‘The role of tutoring in problem solving’. Child Psychiatry 17. (Adapted from Improving Writing - Research Summary, section Whole).

3 Relevant resources


Astronomy It's full of stars
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Using a telescope and considering how those early astronomers may have worked
Astronomy(topic) has been practiced for centuries and doesn't require expensive equipment! This first session aims to train the whole class(ta) to use a telescope and, hopefully, to provide an opportunity to engage in some active learning(ta). The lesson includes some naked-eye observations and describes how modern technology helps scientists know where to look. You can explore the scientific method(ta) and language(ta) at this point, using targeted questioning(ta)/differentiation(ta). Students may be able to engage in an inquiry(ta)-based project around this work, perhaps for homework(ta).
Astronomy Recreating the Big Bang
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An introduction to the creation of the Universe.
This presentation offers a tour of the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) and explains why it is worth spending money on one experiment. It then delves into particle physics, looking at sub-atomic particles to offer analogies for what these particles are. The session focuses on whole class(ta) dialogue(ta) and higher order(ta) thinking skills as well as exploring scientific language(ta). This 4th session and the 5th are together the most theoretically complex and they present challenges to young peoples world views. As such they are led as much by their questions(ta) as by the presentation.
Blogs Telling Stories about Farm Animals
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Children using technology on a visit to a local farm
This activity uses technology and the development of e-skills(topic) in young children, in order to create opportunities for speaking and listening, and language(ta) development.

The specific trip provided a great stimulus for the children's stories. Equally, however, this approach could be applied to any trip or event in or out of school. The use of a blog(tool) gave the opportunity for children to share their ideas with a wider audience, and also gave opportunities for real-time feedback on their work. The use of hand-held technology also enabled active learning(ta) as the portability of the iPads and cameras allowed them to be used outside the classroom, on the farm. The accessibility of the technology meant that this activity promoted inclusion(ta) and the visual nature of the photos and pictures was used effectively to help extend the children's vocabulary(ta).

Blogs Getting a buzz out of blogging
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Starting with the basic principles of blogs(tool) and blogging, this primary course looks at their use within education and how they can be used to improve teaching and learning. The focus is particularly on blogs as an ICT(i) tool for collaboration(ta) which encourages the effective use of reasoning(ta) and language(ta). The unit also discusses practical elements such as e-skills(topic) and copyright(topic) issues you might encounter in blogging.
CPD Directed Activities Related to Text (DARTs)
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Developing good pedagogy in using text based activities for learning
This resource covers a range of Directed Activities Related to Text, highlighting the importance of language(ta) and visualisation(ta) in activities, and their role in active learning(ta) and study skills(topic).
CPD Subject Specific Vocabulary
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What's that word? Thinking about the language used in your subject
This resource highlights the importance of subject-specific vocabulary(ta) and its consideration in teaching as well as offering some practical tips for encouraging its effective use, and remembering in classroom contexts.
CPD Establishing Purpose for Writing
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Why do we have to write it down? Thinking about why we write...
This resource highlights some key types of text, and asks teachers to think about the key texts and language(ta) in their own subjects, and how tasks can be well designed to illicit purposeful writing in their classroom practice. Teachers should consider learning objectives(ta) for purposeful writing.
CPD Approaches to Reading
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Do we have to read it? Thinking about using 'reading' effectively in the classroom
This resource highlights a range of approaches to reading in the classroom and the reasons we ask pupils to engage in reading activities, including the importance of subject language(ta), study skills(topic), and conceptual reasoning(ta) and visualisation(ta) arising from subject based reading activities.
Classroom management Classroom Management
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Managing a classroom for learning
This resource is a longer DfES document on classroom management(ta), from which some shorter more focused documents are drawn (see related resources). It highlights the importance of constructive language(ta), Ground Rules for learning, and the role of clear expectations in building a constructive classroom environment for interactive pedagogy.
Environment Our Living Environment
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Wise up on ecology
This study module, an online booklet, deals with the particular ways of thinking about and studying of the environment. It is a useful homework(ta) resource to encourage pupils to engage with key scientific vocabulary(ta) and use their knowledge of the scientific method(ta) to engage with inquiry(ta) learning.
Forces Force in the early years
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Thinking about the language of force
This lesson idea highlights the scientific language(ta) around the topic of force, and through group work(ta) and whole class(ta) dialogue(ta) engages pupils in inquiry(ta) and the scientific method(ta) surrounding force.
Genetics Human Genome Project: from Sequencing to Sharing Genomic Information
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Discuss and share economic, political and ethical issues.
This resource provides guidance on how to use whole class(ta) discussion(ta) and/or small group work(ta) to engage students with the science and the economic, political, ethical(topic), legal and social issues of a scientific project such as the HGP. Its focus is on the scientific method(ta); language(ta) and the nature of scientific inquiry(ta).
Genetics How DNA is sequenced: the stages
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The complexity and scale of genome sequencing
Students match diagrams of the stages of DNA sequencing with a list of text descriptions of the process. The lesson can involve students discussing in pairs / group work(ta), followed by a teacher or student-led plenary. Students would share ideas, come to a consensus and check the ‘whole class(ta) response’ with their version. The teacher's questioning(ta) can focus on scientific method(ta) and use of scientific language(ta). The lesson idea provides opportunities for the effective use of assessment(ta).
Graph Variation of human characteristics - Visualising Class data
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A big survey of ourselves, measuring hands, feet and more
The lesson offers the opportunity to explore measurement, relationships between measurement, and ways to visualise and summarise this data. The use of ICT(i) allows the teacher to enter data and for pupils to immediately see the impact this has on the pie chart and frequency tables (which are automatically updated). This also allows the teacher to change the 'range' for the frequency counts, and discuss with pupils the impact of this on the pie chart, and whether this is a good representation - encouraging the use of mathematical language(ta) and scientific method(ta) throughout. In collecting the data pupils have opportunity for some self-directed group work(ta) - to measure various lengths as described below - and the teacher could use whole class(ta) questions(ta) to explore the strategies taken to conduct this investigation(ta).
ICT Monsters using Scratch
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Children using a computer programming language to create moving monsters
This activity developed the specific e-skills(topic) of programming and digital animation. It could be considered the first step towards enabling children to design and create their own games(tool) using sprites and user-input controls. Computer programming helps to develop investigation(ta) skills as it requires the use of a previously unknown language(ta) to execute commands, which also develops the skills of mathematical thinking(ta). Computer programming also involves the use of modelling(ta) and planning(ta) techniques. Because Scratch is an open source programming language, this also creates opportunities for homework(ta), as the children are able to download the software for themselves at home.
Investigation Persuasive argument and evidence-based conclusions about the best car
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Got a new motor? Talk about your investigation like a scientist
This activity involving inquiry(ta)aims to develop children’s ability to support their conclusions with evidence. The teacher will model(ta) and encourage the use of the language(ta) that children require to discuss or present their data. The teacher can explain their rationale using the lesson below.
Language Exploring shape and its mathematical language through sorting activities
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Using mathematical language to discuss shapes of objects either printed or hidden in 'feely bags'. Can you feel the forks?
The Investigation(ta) of shapes and geometry can be very rewarding. A practical approach using objects from the pupils’ environment can increase their motivation and interest. In this unit, you will be using everyday objects to help pupils develop geometrical skills, such as recognising, visualisation(ta), describing, sorting, naming, classifying and comparing.

Through games(tool) on the properties of shapes, the activity engages pupils in group talk(ta), mathematical thinking(ta) and vocabulary(ta). This open ended(ta) task encourages higher order(ta) thinking, and could form the basis of whole class(ta) discussion(ta)/questioning(ta) and inquiry(ta) projects. It can be used as a lesson extension, or as a preliminary task.

Language Jargon - the language of science
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What colour is lime water? How the science language confuses
This resource was made for general public interest but may find use as a discussion starter in teacher education.
Learning objectives Writing Learning Objectives in Primary Science
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How are learning objectives supposed to work? How can one achieve mastery in writing learning objectives?
This resource encourages teachers to think about ways to link learning objectives(ta) to the curriculum which also helps to conceptualise their teaching schemes. It also helps children to understand what they are learning and what they are aiming for. The resource brings together key ideas, looking at specific outcomes from activities, vocabulary(ta), differentiation(ta), resources and curriculum development(topic) and short term planning(ta). It could be used as a 'refresher' on ideas when planning lessons.
Literacy Developing Language in Primary Science
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The resource would be particularly useful for PGCE students thinking about incorporating cross-curricular(subject) strands, or teachers looking to do the same, either in their own practice or in new curriculum development(topic) work.

Language development and the use of appropriate vocabulary(ta) is highlighted as important across the curriculum. Incorporating this consideration into science planning(ta) is important for meeting the target of developing language. The importance of language and talk in science – including through group work(ta), and Whole class(ta) dialogue – is highlighted elsewhere (and in the resource) but includes the ability to explain concepts, understand synthesising ideas (including those from other people and texts), and the need to read and write for different purposes, (including conceptual understanding, data presentation, etc). These are key ideas in communicating the scientific method(ta)

Living things Classifying and organising living things using images
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Find different ways to classify living things
This lesson offers opportunities to explore ways to classify living things as well as characteristics which might be relevant, and how to address difficulties that may arise when trying to classify things in this way. The activity may be enhanced by the use of ICT(i) software (e.g. Picasa) but could be carried out with paper-based resources.

This lesson presents a good opportunity for small group work(ta) and some inquiry(ta) into how we classify; and why some classification methods might be more useful, or more scientifically interesting than others. There is also a good opportunity to use different sorts of questioning(ta); to encourage pupils to question each other; to engage in peer assessment(ta) and to focus discussion(ta) on the scientific method(ta) using key vocabulary(ta).

Modelling Modelling Scientific Writing
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How do we help pupils to express themselves adequately when they write?
This resource discusses methods for modelling(ta) scientific writing, and the structure and kinds of language(ta) used in such writing. It provides exemplars and suggests activities to assist teachers to apply these methods to their own practice.
Patterns Exploring Pattern
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Exploring patterns in mathematics
Each chapter of this tutorial highlights the study skills(topic) required to work through the real world examples and activities given. There are problems to be solved, some of which involve higher order(ta) thinking skills (for example, being asked to correct a set of instructions), and all of which encourage the use of mathematical language(ta) and mathematical thinking(ta). The resource could also be used in class, or as a useful homework(ta) pack.
Polygons Exploring properties of rectangles: Perimeter and area.
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Do two rectangles that have the same area also have the same perimeter?
A problem to inspire higher order(ta) questioning(ta) especially in whole class(ta) dialogic teaching(ta) encouraging pupils to engage in mathematical thinking(ta) and language(ta). You could use Geogebra(tool) in this investigation, as an example of same-task group work(ta).
Progression Progression and questioning techniques in primary science projects
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Measuring force and measuring progress.
This resource provides an overview of the Year 6 scheme of work - 6E Forces in action and includes some experiment examples. The experiments could be run in class, with increasingly advanced objectives(i) including students' use of language(ta), the factors they discuss, the way they use equipment, assessment(i), etc. This resource can work as standalone lesson ideas / science projects /inquiry(i), or to illustrate progression of concepts through a scheme of work or curriculum planning(i) document.
QR codes Using QR Codes to Link to Pupil Created Information
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Children creating digital resources for use at Magna
This series of lessons provided opportunity for active learning(ta) though the visit to the Science Centre. It enabled the development of E-skills(topic) through the creation of the media and the use of QR codes. It encouraged collaboration(ta) between students, teachers from different subjects, and between the school and the wider community. It also provided a

cross-curricular(subject) opportunity for the development of language(ta). E-safety(topic) was developed through discussion with the students about ensuring that their work was appropriate for a wider audience. It also provided opportunities for whole class(ta) and whole school collaboration(ta) on a project where they were able to share practice(ta) and examples of their work with others.

Reading skills Developing Reading
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This resource is a longer DfES document on reading(i) and language(ta) development, from which more focused resources (including Approaches to Reading in the Classroom, Directed Activities Related to Text (DARTs), Subject Specific Vocabulary) are drawn
Reading skills Reading and discussing popular science articles
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Read. Get the world's view and see how science works for real
The resource relates to the importance of:
  • Scientific literacy(topic).
  • Science citizenship(topic) - understanding science in its context.
  • Literacy - understanding the role of different media in dissemination.
  • Scientific understanding of particular concepts chosen.
  • scientific language(ta).
  • scientific method(ta).

It can be delivered through a combination of homework(ta) (perhaps to find an interesting article), group work(ta) to explore various articles (perhaps in a carousel), and/or use of ICT(i) including PowerPoint files to encourage students to present an area they are interested in.

Sampling Sampling techniques to assess population size
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This lesson offers students an opportunity to use their existing knowledge to analyse a ‘real scientific publication’ and its language(ta) and link this to scientific method(ta).
  • They use study skills(topic) to skim read, make sense of complex language, and use visualisation(ta) to select relevant information
  • They engage in collaborative(tool) group work(ta) using reasoning(ta) and skills in peer assessment(ta)
  • They engage in dialogue(ta) and questioning(ta) to explore ideas together
  • They also think about how to present information using ICT(i) tools)
Standard Index Form An Introduction to the Standard Index Form
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Working out the rules according to which a calculator displays large numbers
The Standard Index Form is a key idea for mathematicians and scientists. The notion that we choose to write numbers in this way requires some explanation. So in this activity, pupils take part in an investigation(ta) on how standard index form works. This is a higher order(ta) problem solving context where students are encouraged to engage in mathematical thinking(ta). They may be involved in whole class(ta) or small group work(ta) discussion(ta), so they have a good opportunity to practice using mathematical language(ta) and questioning(ta).

This means that students do not need to be able to explain their ideas in full: they can use the calculator's feedback to discover whether their ideas are correct or not. This is also an exciting way for pupils to realise an initial idea that fits the data may need to be extended when new data arises. This resource therefore aims to develop investigative skills, as well as introduce pupils to standard index form in a memorable way. The pupils can later use their knowledge of indices in discussion(ta) and group talk(ta) as they explain what is happening.

Statistics Analysing the performance of Olympic runner, Usain Bolt
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Exploring real world statistics using the GeoGebra program
Using real world data to engage pupils in mathematical thinking(ta), language(ta) and reasoning(ta). This resource provides opportunities for group work or whole class exercises, with engaging questioning(ta).
Statistics Cubic Equations and Their Roots
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To interactiviley explore and understand complex mathematics with GeoGebra
This lesson features a ‘real life’ example for students to explore using visualisation(ta) via GeoGebra. The focus on ‘real life’ increases student motivation.

The activity engages pupils in group talk(ta), mathematical thinking(ta) and vocabulary(ta). This open ended(ta) task encourages higher order(ta) thinking, and encourages whole class(ta) discussion(ta)/questioning(ta) and inquiry(ta) projects.

VLE Using a VLE in the Classroom
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Using a VLE to support the teaching of French
This activity uses a VLE to help pupils develop their language(ta) and vocabulary(ta) skills using games(tool) and a range of teacher-produced digital media. These resources were also available to the pupils out of school to support them with their homework(ta), thus equipping pupils with more independent study skills(topic). The teacher also used the VLE to support their own classroom management(ta), using data from the VLE to record which tasks the pupils has worked on.
Visualisation GeoGebra STEM Exploration
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Develop 'real world' GeoGebra mathematical modelling applications which reach out to a wide range of users both students and teachers
The half-term activity consists of 3 half-day workshops interspersed with home-working and on-line collaboration. Each workshop is part tutorial and help in GeoGebra, part development, presentation and feedback on their emerging work. The three half-day sessions become gradually less structured as students become more confident taking the initiative in developing their own work:

An initial GeoGebra tutorial session features ‘real life’ examples such as mathematical modelling(ta) and visualisation(ta) from photographs of patterns and structure in flowers and architecture; exercises such as “math aerobics” where students model algebraic functions kinaesthetically; and data analysis and exploration such as from astronomy (Kepler's 3rd law) and athletic performance (Usain Bolt’s 100m sprints). Realistic examples such as these, or from students’ previous work, are essential to get the ball rolling. Following this, the onus is very much on the student’s own initiative. The focus on ‘real life’ and student ownership of ideas and project development increases student motivation.

The activity engages pupils in group talk(ta), mathematical thinking(ta) and vocabulary(ta). This open ended(ta) task develops higher order(ta) reasoning(ta), and encourages whole class(ta) discussion(ta)/questioning(ta) and inquiry(ta) projects.

Visualisation Flying paper planes
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Very visual and interactive and simple to understand
This lesson features a ‘real life’ example for students to explore using visualisation(ta) via GeoGebra. The focus on ‘real life’ increases student motivation.

The activity engages pupils in group talk(ta), mathematical thinking(ta) and vocabulary(ta). This open ended(ta) task encourages higher order(ta) thinking, and encourages whole class(ta) discussion(ta)/questioning(ta) and inquiry(ta) projects.

Visualisation Solar and Lunar Eclipse
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To show and explain how a Solar and Lunar eclipse occurs
This lesson features a ‘real life’ example for students to explore using visualisation(ta) via GeoGebra. The focus on ‘real life’ increases student motivation.

The activity engages pupils in group talk(ta), mathematical thinking(ta) and vocabulary(ta). This open ended(ta) task encourages higher order(ta) thinking, and encourages whole class(ta) discussion(ta)/questioning(ta) and inquiry(ta) projects.

Visualisation Radioactive Decay and Carbon Dating
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Using 'real life' data to explore exponential graphs
This lesson features a ‘real life’ example for students to explore using visualisation(ta) via GeoGebra. The focus on ‘real life’ increases student motivation.

The activity engages pupils in group talk(ta), mathematical thinking(ta) and vocabulary(ta). This open ended(ta) task encourages higher order(ta) thinking, and encourages whole class(ta) discussion(ta)/questioning(ta) and inquiry(ta) projects.

Writing Developing Writing
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Understanding the importance of writing
This resource is a larger DfES document on writing(topic) and language(ta) development, from which more focused resources (including Establishing Purpose for Writing) are drawn.