"I wandered lonely as a cloud," wrote William Wordsworth in "To Daffodils", in 1804. This was an exciting time in the artistic and intellectual world - the age of Humphrey Davy, John Dalton, Richard Trevithick and William Herschel, of Alessandro Volta, of Beethoven and Haydn, of Hegel and Jeremy Bentham. Constable, Goya, Turner, Fuseli and Ingres were painting; Goethe, Austen and Blake were scribbling away - what a ferment! Ask students to research the social, historical and cultural background of a new text or topic in The Timetables of History by Bernard Grun, or use the excellent timelines available at www.malaspina.com.
Looking at language itself, knowing that "cumulus" comes from the Latin for "heap" makes the term immediately memorable as it links it directly to a visual image. Explore the etymology of other new terms in any subject area. Take "photosynthesis" as an example. Pupils compiling a list of words containing the "photo-" element may deduce that it has something to do with "light". "Synthesis" may be more difficult (it suggests the idea of making something new from discrete constituents), but they may relate it to the more familiar "synthetic". This is cross-curricular literacy and a scientific concept at the same time.