Writing Science - Describing and explaining texts in science

Jim Sturgiss
Aligning practice for better outcomes.
The syllabus makes it quite clear that science teachers are teachers of writing. This course is designed to show you how to use writing as a powerful tool for feedbac...
Target Audience
Secondary science teachers 7-12 Primary teachers of science.

Learning Areas

General Description

Outside of the English classroom, Science provides the greatest opportunity for students to write. Writing has the capacity to facilitate the abstraction of concepts and promote high order critical thinking. The Science classroom provides excellent opportunities to improve literacy skills and in turn, improve overall student learning outcomes. This course focuses on the genres of describing and explaining; how to assess student writing from both a scientific and literacy point of view; and provides strategies on how help students write.


Secondary science teachers 7-12
Primary teachers of science.

Available Delivery Formats

Format Description

Course Access - This course is available 24/7. Begin the course when it suits you. After completing the course you will still have ongoing access to review content.

Important information for schools with" TTA School Membership" or "Unlimited Online School Subscription" Please ignore the listed prices. The correct discounts will be applied to all enrolments. Make sure to select your school to pay for you.

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Teaching Standards
2.5.2 Proficient Level – Literacy and numeracy strategies
5.3.2 Proficient Level – Make consistent and comparable judgements
6.2.2 Proficient Level – Engage in professional learning and improve practice
Are you in NSW? If so, this is relevant for you
Completing this course will contribute 3 hours of NESA Registered PD addressing 2.5.2, 5.3.2 & 6.2.2 from the Australian Professional Standards for Teachers towards maintaining Proficient Teacher Accreditation in NSW.

This course contributes to 3.0 professional development hours.


  Start Date Location Availability Price    
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Engaging in writing

30 minutes

A presentation argues the importance of writing in science.
Participants respond to a rich writing task requiring a scientific explanation of a phenomenon.

SOLO analysis of writing

1 hour

A presentation is given on the classical SOLO taxonomy which is used to assess student conceptual understanding of scientific concepts.
A presentation is given on the application of SOLO taxonomy to student responses.
Participants apply SOLO taxonomy to student responses to gauge the level of conceptual understanding.

Improving writing in science

30 minutes

Presentation on the key grammatical markers on describing and explaining in science.
Strategies to improve student writing

Creating a rich writing task

1 hour

Participants analyse syllabus for opportunities to develop rich writing tasks.
Participants share a created writing task they have written

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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)