Reading to Learn Science
This resource demonstrates a strategy that high school teachers can use to support students’ reading and writing skills across the high school curriculum.
Literacy skills are important to enable students to engage in learning and demonstrate their understanding across the curriculum.
However, many students have difficulty acquiring the necessary reading, comprehension and writing skills to access curriculum content, as well as to successfully demonstrate what they have learnt.
A challenge for teachers is to provide opportunities for individual students to develop their skills in reading and writing while, at the same time, teaching the knowledge, understanding and skills of their subject.
Four stages in action
This resource demonstrates strategies that high school teachers can use to develop students’ reading and writing skills across a range of subject areas. The strategies are presented in four stages: preparing for reading, detailed reading, note-making and joint construction.
The videos demonstrate the strategies in action across the four stages. Sample lessons based on these strategies have also been provided for Geography, History, PDHPE and Science.
The strategies demonstrated in this resource aim to enhance students’ learning of curriculum content while developing their literacy and numeracy skills.
These strategies are not in addition to the curriculum but integrated with delivery of the curriculum. These strategies can be used as a regular part of any secondary class.
Preparing for reading
In general, the class should spend 15–20 minutes in a lesson to prepare for reading. After briefly revising the students’ background knowledge, the teacher uses notes previously prepared to provide a verbal summary of the texts, paragraph by paragraph or sentence by sentence. The text is then read aloud and discussed.
Typically, 20 minutes of a lesson is spent on detailed reading to deepen students’ understanding and control over the written language.
A further 20 minutes can be spent on writing the information as notes in point form.
At least twice each term, it is recommended that classes practise writing a text together, using the joint construction strategy. This could involve notes that the class has built through reading in previous lessons. Short texts can be jointly constructed by the whole class. Longer texts may be started as a whole class construction, and then completed individually.
The final activity in this sequence is an independent writing task in which students read, make notes and use the notes to write a text of their own.
The following lesson plans demonstrate the strategies in action across the four stages. Each lesson plan contains:
- references to the relevant NSW syllabus
- an annotated copy of the text used
- an aspect of language to focus on
- examples of what is required in each of the four stages.
Lesson planning proforma Word format
Geography for Australian Citizens 3rd edition by B Parker, K Lanceley, D Owens & R Fitzpatrick, 2008, Macmillan Education Australia, pp 281–284. Reproduced by permission of Macmillan Education Australia.
Jump into PDHPE – Book 1 by A Watt, M Nemec & B Dawe, 1999, Macmillan Education Australia, pp 80–84. Reproduced by permission of Macmillan Education Australia.
Oxford Big Ideas History 9 Australian Curriculum by G Carrodus, T Delany, B Howitt, R Smith, T Taylor & C Young, 2012, pp 116–119. Reproduced by permission of Oxford University Press Australia.
Oxford Big Ideas Science 9 Australian Curriculum by S Cash, G Quinton & C Tilley, 2012, pp 96–99. Reproduced by permission of Oxford University Press Australia.
‘The water cycle’ image from Oxford Big Ideas Science 9 Australian Curriculum Student Book by Cash et al, 2012. Reproduced by permission of Oxford University Press Australia.
The NESA acknowledges the contributions of:
The Department of Education and Communities
Dr David Rose , Director of Reading to Learn