5 Writing in science

It is likely that most of the writing that students do is copying from the blackboard or the textbook, or writing down notes that you have dictated. They will also write down the answers to questions. This is clearly important as you want your students to have a record of the things they need to know for the exams.

However, giving your students the opportunity to write about science in their own words will be very helpful to them and for you, too. It will give them the chance to formulate ideas for themselves and it will tell you about their level of understanding.

Writing frames can help to support students’ thinking if they are not used to writing freely on their own. Starting off an activity with a blank page can be very daunting even for the most confident students. A writing frame is a template that structures and guides your students through a particular activity. They are easy to construct but you can find an example at the end of this unit. If you have access to the web, there are many examples on the internet. You can make writing frames easier or harder to match the needs of lower or higher-attaining students.

Pause for thought

  • How much writing do your students do?
  • What do your students write about?

Activity 3: Using a writing frame

This activity is for you to do with your class. It gives you and your students the time to practice using a simple writing frame. The context is a ‘compare and contrast’ activity based on two important types of cells from the cells chapter.

  • Tell your students that they are going to compare and contrast a prokaryotic ell and a eukaryotic cell.
  • Copy the writing frame in Resource 2 onto the blackboard.
  • Do your normal teaching explanation of prokaryotic cell and a eukaryotic cell.
  • Group your students into threes. Ask them to copy the writing frame from the blackboard onto a piece of blank paper.
  • Allow them five minutes talking time then ask them to complete the writing frame.
  • Ask nearby groups to swap writing frames with each other. Allow five minutes of discussion of each other’s work.
  • Finally take some feedback on whether your students found this a helpful exercise to learn about the two types of cells and then to write about them. Were any key words used?

This activity used a simple but effective writing frame. For the next topic, try to develop your own writing frames. You can share ideas for writing frames with other teachers in your school or cluster.

4 Speaking and listening in science