Enhancing English Across the Curriculum

Using tech to support and enhance English learning across the curriculum

The national curriculum for England states:

Teachers should develop pupils’ spoken language, reading, writing and vocabulary as integral aspects of the teaching of every subject. English is both a subject in its own right and the medium for teaching; for pupils, understanding the language provides access to the whole curriculum. Fluency in the English language is an essential foundation for success in all subjects.

Providing pupils with opportunities for reading, writing, and speaking is, therefore, a non-negotiable for teachers. In this article I will share how, using technology as a tool to engage and enthuse, I take a cross-curricular approach to teach English.

qr reading trail


I regularly prepare ‘reading trails’ for my pupils to complete in lessons. They are essentially reading comprehensions, where texts are displayed around the classroom, hall or outside area. Children move around, reading the information, answering comprehension questions. In KS1, independent reading of the texts provides suitable challenge for more able pupils. QR codes can be used to support less able readers to access the text. I often record myself reading the texts aloud using the free app Audioboom (audioboom.com), and create a QR code linking to the recording. This way, pupils can listen to the text wearing headphones. The following pictures show a Year One reading trail on the roles of animals in WW1.

For KS2 pupils, I provide QR codes linking directly to appropriate websites from which they read and answer questions. This photo shows QR codes I made for Year 5 to research different types of animals as part of a science lesson.

Explain Everything is a perfect app for children to apply their reading skills across the curriculum. In a ‘flipped classroom’ approach, resources can be made for children to access on their own iPads prior to or during the lesson, making them active participants in their own learning. Providing independent reading opportunities across the curriculum allows children to lead their own learning. I made the board game (page 15 top left) to teach Year 5 about the events before, during and after the Battle of Hastings. Pupils had to read the instructions then pick up and sequence cards containing facts about the battle as they played.

Hastings game

So enthused by his learning, one pupil made this trailer for ‘The Battle of Hastings: The Movie’ at home! View it on YouTube at bit.ly/uked15mar02.

Opportunities for writing across the curriculum Thinglink.com, which is a free site and app, is a fantastic tool for bringing an image to life by adding text and video. As part of a Year 3 geography topic on New Orleans, my pupils tracked the journey of Hurricane Katrina by adding text to a map of Katrina’s path.

In an opportunity to consolidate their work on embedded clauses and simultaneously apply their history learning, Year 3 used Thinglink to generate sentences to describe Hadrian’s Wall. Pupils’ finished work can be published to thinglink.com and embedded into class blogs or shared via Twitter. See their Thinglink at bit.ly/uked15mar03. Undeniably, one of my favourite apps, iMovie, is the perfect tool for creating professional movie trailers to entertain, captivate and enthuse pupils at the start of a lesson. For a Year 3 history lesson on the turbulent love life of the Roman Emperor Nero, I introduced my lesson with this iMovie trailer bit.ly/uked15mar04. A similar approach worked well during a Year 1 topic on the Tudors. My pupils were fascinated by Henry VIII and enjoyed advertising for his seventh wife!

Opportunities for speaking & listening across the curriculum The iPad is ideal for supporting KS1 pupils to develop their speaking and listening skills. During the 2014 World Cup, I introduced a Year 1 theme day on Brazil with the following video, made using the Tellagami app.

Pupils began by reading simple texts about the geography of Brazil and discussed the landmarks they’d most like to visit. They collected data on pupils’ favourite landmarks and used Explain Everything to create a pictogram to show their a results. Examples of pupils’ work can be found in the blog post at bit.ly/uked15mar06. Book Creator app (bookcreator) is ideal for speaking and listening in KS1, due to its ease of use. Pupils can add photos, text, audio recordings and videos to a book and the finished product can be saved as an iBook, or exported as a video for publishing to YouTube, Twitter and/or class blogs. Year 1 worked in talk partners to create iBooks about Brazil. Here’s a brilliant example – bit.ly/uked15mar07. The new curriculum states teachers should, ‘develop exciting and stimulating lessons to promote the development of pupils’ knowledge, understanding and skills as part of the wider school curriculum.’ Therefore providing children with exciting opportunities to apply their literacy skills across all areas of the curriculum should be at the forefront of our practice.

See this article freely in the March 2015 Online Edition of UKEdMagazine

Since qualifying in 2009, Amy has have taught at three schools in Manchester. After studying English and Hispanic Studies at Sheffield, she went on to complete her PGCE Primary at MMU. She is passionate about enhancing English using technology. For more examples, follow her on Twitter at @MissKingsley85.

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