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Teaching writing across the curriculum

The pedagogy

The resources to support writing across the curriculum are primarily designed for teachers in secondary school, with the demands of GCSE in mind. Formal academic writing requires students to ‘sound like an expert’ in a subject, and to be able to write clear, precise, and convincing explanations and analyses. All teachers are responsible for showing students how to think and express themselves successfully in their subject, and grammar provides a way of describing what writers do with language to achieve this expert voice. The suggestion is not to teach a raft of grammar terminology but to be explicit about important structures and patterns of language that students can imitate. 

Explicit teaching of grammar in the context of improving academic writing is underpinned by these key principles:

  • Make a link between the grammar being introduced and how it works in the writing being taught, e.g. showing how a well-chosen noun phrase can make precise and succinct references to concepts or events: human-caused climate change; Kruschev’s policy of de-Stalinisation; the build-up of lactic acid in muscles during exercise. 
  • Use grammatical terms but explain them through examples, e.g.provide a list of modal verbs (can, could, shall, should, will, would, might, must, may) and use them to write an evaluation of a Science method or a Drama performance. 
  • Encourage discussion about language and effects, to reinforce understanding two opening paragraphs to an argument and decide which is most effective and why; experiment with positioning of main and subordinate clauses and discuss impact on meaning and emphasis. 
  • Use authentic examples from authentic texts, e.g. highlight the noun phrases and verbs used in an artist’s statement explaining their work.

  • Use model patterns for students to imitate, e.g. the use of a short sentence at the start of a paragraph that clearly states the main idea.


The resources

These are designed to support teachers’ grammar subject knowledge and to inform department or whole-school approaches to teaching writing across the curriculum.

Download the PowerPoint on Teaching Subject Vocabulary 

Download the PowerPoint on Teaching Sentences 

Download the Grammar glossary for Vocabulary 

Download the Grammar glossary for Sentences 

Download the Cross-curricular teaching activities