Wanting to add to the pot, I’ve been thinking about cross curricular potential, an area where many schools are seeking possible links. In another post, I have argued that it is possible to look at the curriculum as wholly English, so providing double value to learning.
Continuing this theme, I’d propose the creation of “expert witnesses”, where a specific subject teacher might be asked specific questions on a theme that supports writing in English. The idea came while watching a discussion between Gavin Essler and Michael Frayn, the author. Michael Frayn told the story of how he started writing without research, but, with the example drawn from the approach of his wife, Claire Tomalin, had taken to active research to ensure the validity of his stories.
This approach may not be common practice in Secondary, although some are moving to what can appear to be a more Primary based approach in years 7-9.
However, an English teacher could invite a History colleague to visit and allow questions from the class to fill in some specific details which could enhance their writing.
Take any setting for a piece of writing and invite a relevant colleague; history, geography, science, DT, ICT, music etc. This would enable the children to see the purpose of a broad subject based vocabulary and understanding of concepts to enhance their written outcomes. It’s another form of using and applying knowledge.
In the absence of a compliant or available colleague, expert witnesses can be created within the student body, through the judicious use of independent research among the class, all sharing information into a central bank for use by all. Brave individuals could be interrogated.
Failing both of these, the fall back is the teacher in the hot seat, taking a role.
Of course, other skills can be also enhanced;-
- First draft, without information.
- Note making- while the discussion is taking place, as an aide memoire.
- Peer-peer and child-teacher discussion and further note making.
- Evaluative reflections and redrafting with new information embedded.
- Evaluation of the process and identify continuing learning needs.