The Journey – The Start
We were better at making cross curricular links in our English work with Geography and History but few opportunities for linking with Science were made. We had noted there was a lack of high quality writing in Science. Generally we had noticed very few extended pieces of Science writing across school.
- Few high-quality science links being made.
- Some other cross curricular links were present.
- Few extended pieces of writing across school.
Examples of work from September 2017
Our Year 5 children were learning about Titanic in their English lessons. This was only taught in the mornings and the science was taught discreetly, on a Tuesday afternoon, and at this time it was focused on Earth and Space.
This child was creating a persuasive advert for the Titanic. The focus on English content was good and the child has used a range of writing techniques. There is evidence of the editing process and the child did then go onto publish this piece of work. We feel that the presentation could be improved especially when editing. The class went onto produce a non-chronological report about the Titanic, a diary entry and a newspaper report.
At the start of the Real Writing project we moderated this work and instantly realised that opportunities had been missed for making cross curricular links with science, in this case: forces and properties of materials.
Following on from the Titanic project the Year 5 children then went on to use the wordless picture book ‘Flotsum’. This unit, however, was taught in a similar way to the previous one.
The purpose of this text was to eventually retell the story. From this piece, the vocabulary is well developed in an English sense and the child has used a range of writing structures. However, there aren’t any scientific links being made…yet!
As a result of feedback from the first audit and the January training day, this project was then extended into Spring 1 so that more science links could be made. We didn’t want to miss opportunities again, like we had with the Titanic.
We planned a science unit based around characteristics of living things and their habitats. The children learnt about classification, the history of the classification system and created a classification key using creatures which had appeared in Flotsum. They then went on to explore and compare the lifecycles of different animal groups. Instantly the influx of scientific vocabulary can be seen , whilst maintaining the same writing standards and structures, as previous. Words such as metamorphosis, bioluminescent, excretion, exoskeleton, respiration and invertebrate can be seen. We also worked on improving presentation.
To complete this unit, the children then learnt all about fossils – the process of fossilisation, and why we study fossils. Once again, all the same aspects of English writing are evident in their work, however now there is a seamless and purposeful use of scientific knowledge and tier 3 vocabulary in this work : coprolite, paleontologists, decomposition, sedimentary, permeable etc…
By now, the principles of the Real writing project had become so firmly established in how we, as a school, are now teaching. The children researched about the different parts of the circulatory system, presenting their information as a double-page spread. They then looked at the effect of exercise on the heart, planning and conducting an experiment to test their hypothesis. Once again, this became so cross-curricular with science, English and even Maths drawn together now, whilst still pushing standards and expectations even higher.
What the Children thought
One challenge that had emerged from discussions with staff, was that, although confidence had grown in terms of planning and delivering lessons which incorporated aspects of science and English, this was still very much weighted in terms of factual writing. We set to work to address this and I planned a narrative unit on the journey of a red blood cell. Now…this could go one of two ways and be amazing…or fall flat. Having never done anything quite like this, we took the risk…and luckily it paid off. The children embraced the challenge, and were able to produce writing of such a high standard in terms of their English, whilst still incorporating their scientific understanding.
What the Children thought
Children’s view on impact