SENIOR CYCLE Agricultural Science - LITERACY



Vocabulary Building in Science


Science vocabulary building requires more than rote memorisation as one teaching strategy, which only leads to short term knowledge gain. Since long term knowledge gain of vocabulary is what is required for learning, students must be exposed to all new science words at least six times in different contexts ("Learning Vocabulary Through Reading," American Educational Research Journal, Volume 21 Issue 4, 1984).


Examples of exposure to science words in different contexts include:


  • Reading
  • KWL Charts
  • Videos
  • Hands-on activities
  • Explaining in students' own terms
  • Explaining by using diagrams and illustrations
  • Vocabulary Lists


General Resources For Literacy






Other Resources



Students can make their own "little book" of definitions and science words for a particular topic


Instructions for Making a Little Book  


Make a Little Book Word PPT PDF


Graphic Organisers

"A picture is worth a thousand words."


 When students are juggling new concepts, a concrete model or graphic organiser can be an excellent teaching and learning aid.A concrete model/graphic organiser is usually a one page form with blank areas for the student to fill in ideas and information. Some organisers are very specific while others can be used with many topics. The graphic organiser gives students another way to see information.


 Why do they work?


 Random facts are quickly lost. However, the brain's ability to store pictures is unlimited. Since the brain likes to "chunk" information, the graphic organiser complements the way the brain naturally works.


 When do they work?


Graphic organisers will be beneficial to students whenever they are given new information. They can be used to brainstorm, sequence and organise. During reading and listening, students should be encouraged to graphically organise new information. 

Graphic Organisers can help to improve literacy. Graphic organiser from the PDST are available here so that they can be printed out and given to students or as powerpoint slides that can be filled in on the computer.  There are also examples of prefilled organisers to science to give you some ideas.


 Graphic Organisers for Printing

Graphic Organisers Powerpoint

Graphic Organisers Ag Science Examples


Q Notes



Q notes are a form of graphic orgniser that are useful to use with leaving cert students. Q notes combines two well-known and powerful methods:  SQ3R and Cornell Notes.  It is  called  “Q-Notes” because students  write Questions in the left-hand margin. When students are  preparing for a Quiz or as revision, the Questions serves as CUES to remind them of what they need to  know.  When using these notes as study aids,  students can fold the right edge of the paper over so that it lines up with the dotted line.  They can then see  questions in the Q-column which they can use these as a self assessment tool.


Q Notes Template


Websites to Improve Literacy


puzzlemaker Lots of different types of puzzles to make
wordleaner Crosswords, wordsearches, bingo, matching and more
wordsearches Make you own wordsearch
pppst Good maths images and ideas
IXL Interactive revision site for maths - covers all topics
Quizlet Flashcards, Games and Test
Studystack Flashcards, Matching, Crosswords , Test, Quiz
Wordle Create your own Word Cloud
Tagxedo Create your own Word Shape
Question Cube Create a question cube using Blooms Taxomony


Bingo Templates


Blank Bingo 9 Square Blank Grid

X and O Game Template

Sample Powerpoint Grid


Snakes and Ladders


Snakes and Ladders can be played by using any of the question sets that you make. Simply print the questions out onto card, or if you don't like chopping up card, print them onto labels and stick them onto flash cards! The same question cards can be used both for bingo and for Snakes and Ladders. Two for the price of one. Now that's good value!


You will then need to print out the snakes and ladders board. Download the template below and laminate. It is fine in A4 but you will need to use the smaller counters. Print in A3 if you have access to an A3 printer.


Template for Snakes and Ladders Board


i Quiz Templates


Template 1
Template 2
Template 3
Template 4


Other Strategies for Teaching Science Vocabulary


  • Leave lots of time for discussion
  • Discussion between students
  • Discussion between student and teacher
  • Class discussion
  • Supplement auditory information with visual clues
  • Use drawings, diagrams, and pictures
    • give written instructions  along with verbal instructions
    • set-up examples to supplement written lab instructions
    • have audiotaped instructions alongside written directions
    • pictures with words in stages of lab procedures that students can sequence
  • Science Text Cards
    • True/False
    • Matching Pairs
    • Sequencing
    • Classification
  • Wordbanks
    • Keyword posters
    • Keyword Lists
    • Word walls
  • Wordgames
    • Hangman
    • Pictionary
    • Bingo
    • Odd one out
    • What am I?
  • Wordparts


Teachers can reinforce the structure of words as students identify and interpret prefix, suffix, base word and their meanings:


photosynthesis — photo (light), synth (make), isis (process)


Multiple Meanings


Words with multiple meanings can be confusing for students proficient in English and are especially troublesome for English language learners. It is important to discuss these meanings with students. When we confuse common definitions with meanings used in science, students’ understanding suffers. For example, in common use, “theory” means a hunch, while in science, a “theory” is a well-established explanation of the natural world based on solid empirical evidence.