Writing Science

Jim Sturgiss
Aligning practice for better outcomes.
Regular writing of extended tasks is key to improving learning outcomes. Use SOLO to design engaging writing tasks to assess student understanding and misconceptions in...
Target Audience
Teachers of Science Years 3 -12
14 reviews

Learning Areas

Teaching Standards

General Description

Science requires students demonstrate explanations of phenomena by showing cause and effect and to evaluate the consequences for society. Student writing provides powerful evidence for student attainment of syllabus outcomes.
Regular writing practice in science, responding to rich syllabus based tasks will improve student learning outcomes.
Karl Maton from the University of Sydney claims that the academic/technical language of subject disciplines is characterised by semantic density. Maton acknowledges that subject-specialist teachers are experts in breaking down the technical language of their subjects to a less semantically dense, less powerful commonsense language for students.
However, he observes that students require opportunities to rebuild the semantically dense texts that are characteristic of the subject disciplines if they are to master subject-specific literacy.

In this workshop participants will:
• Analyse and differentiate student writing of explanations and persuasive texts using both a literacy and conceptual taxonomies
• Discuss the characteristics of rich writing tasks designed to elicit sustained writing from science students
• Analyse the Australian Science Curriculum for opportunities to ask rich questions of students.
• Create and share rich writing tasks that share a common assessment rubric
• Collaboratively use Google.docs to engage in a pedagogy and strategies to improve student writing and learning outcomes in science


Teachers of Science Years 3 -12

Available Delivery Formats

Format Description

The workshop utilises a blended delivery through presentation and online collaboration.

This course contributes to 5.0 professional development hours.


  Start Date Location Availability Price    
Enrol Now 28/03/2019 Sydney CBD Places available $349 + GST Enrol Now


Responding to writing tasks

30 minutes

Participants respond to two typical writing tasks (an explanation and a persuasive text) appropriate for Stage 4 Science.

SOLO Analysis of student work samples

45 minutes

Science conceptual achievement demonstrated in student work samples is analysed using SOLO taxonomy as used in the VALID 8 science assessment.

Analysis of student writing using NAPLAN style criteria

1 hour and 30 minutes

Participants will be walked through a NAPLAN style analysis of student writing. They will then apply the criteria to student work samples.

Creating rich writing tasks

1 hour

Participants will analyse the Australian Science Curriculum for opportunities to ask rich questions of students.
Participants will create and share on a forum, rich writing tasks that share a common assessment rubric.

Developing a pedagogy for writing.

30 minutes

Participants use google docs to collaboratively respond to a writing task.

Peer review

45 minutes

Peer review of participant writing responses using established literacy and conceptual criteria.

What To Bring

Wifi enabled laptop

User Rating


Latest Reviews

Please note the feedback listed here is unfiltered, and includes all comments and ratings collected.

Writing Science
by Alison Brown on 03/07/2018

Jim was great. Even though the rest of the group were high school teachers, he ensured I was involved and I found the day very productive and will use this in my science teaching.

Writing Science

Great course that provided excellent insight into literacy and resources to improve this

Writing Science
by Malcolm Stokes on 03/07/2018

The presentation moved at a good pace. Knowledge of subject by Jim was extensive. I need to work more on formatting responses with SOLO particularly.

Writing Science
by Malcolm Stokes on 03/07/2018

The presentation moved at a good pace. Knowledge of subject by Jim was extensive. I need to work more on formatting responses with SOLO particularly.

Writing Science

Knowledgeable presenter,
provides good feedback,
very informative,
good resources & structure,
SOLO information and breaking down writing tasks was excellent

Writing Science

Lots of shared resources to assist with building vital skills for communicating, particularly in examinations. More “hands on” would have been more stimulating, however, time the usual issue for the volume of content.

Writing Science

Well presented with clear instruction and terminology. The group tasks and applying of the content was really helpful! Being able to discuss the concepts with other teachers was an added bonus.

Writing Science
by Adrian O'Shea on 03/07/2018

Great Presentation, ideas, sharing tasks and resources

Writing Science

Good understanding of literally in Science was learnt today. Student understanding of constructing responses was very good.

Writing Science
by Richard Ward on 10/04/2017

A little confused in places, lots of good ideas but structure of presentation needs work. The staff on ELLA is quite elaborate, possibly not suitable for this length of course. Focus on solo as well as improvements (conjunctions, nominalising, modality). More time for constructions writing tasks.

Writing Science
by Charmaine Leong on 10/04/2017

Would be helpful to have the slides printed out so that participants can annotate as the speaker presents.

Writing Science
by John Phillips on 10/04/2017
Writing Science

I now have a better understanding of SONO taxonomy.

Writing Science
by Rosemary Ioannidis on 10/04/2017

It showed me the importance of incorporating writing into my lessons with the aim of improving student responses. The last section where we worked on some resources and shared was also good. As it showed that it wasn’t too hard. Just get started.

About the team

Jim Sturgiss


Improving outcomes through aligned teaching practice synergies.

Jim is an educational researcher and independent educational consultant. A recipient of the NSW PTC Distinguished Service Award for leadership in delivering targeted professional learning to teachers, he works with schools to align assessment, reporting and learning practice. He has been a DoE Senior Assessment Advisor where he developed many statewide assessments, (ESSA, SNAP, ELLA, BST) and as Coordinator: Analytics where he developed reports to schools for statewide assessments and NAPLAN.

Selected NSW Department of Education and Communities appointments
2015                            Analytics, Systems and Development Coordinator 
2012 – 2013                School Assessment Design and Development Acting Coordinator (ESSA)
2007 – 2010                Head Teacher Science, Newtown High School of Performing Arts
2004 – 2005                Senior Assessment Officer, Computer Skills Assessment (CSA6)
2004                            Test Development Officer, Secondary Numeracy Assessment Program (SNAP)
2000 – 2004                Head Teacher Science, Concord High School 
1998 – 2000                Senior Assessment Officer, English Language and Literacy Assessment (ELLA)

Teaching Qualifications
1993 – 1997                M.Ed. (Hons) University of New England (Thesis: Literacy & learning in Science) 
1979                            Dip. Ed. University of Wollongong
1976 – 1978                B.Sc. University of Wollongong (Majors in Chemistry and Bioenergetics)