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Having a field day

Allowing pupils to explore the great outdoors teaches them to organise and record information. Sarah Haynes offers advice.Your key stage 1 class is doing fieldwork. You want pupils to record their efforts, but many of them have difficulties with writing. What do you do? Here are some tips for alternative recording methods:

Photos: these enable children to recall accurately where they have been once they are back in the classroom. Give them a list of sites or features to photograph, and put them in mixed-ability pairs so that the more able writer can take notes for each photo. Digital photos are ideal, because they can be deleted and retaken.

Make videos: children can produce a video record of the trip with a commentary explaining what they can see.

Field sketches: before you leave, teach pupils how to draw a simple sketch of a location. They will then be able to produce sketches while out in the field, and you can help them to annotate these by producing "feature fans", small fans of cards showing the pictures and names of appropriate features to find and note.

Audio recording: using a simple handheld Dictaphone, the children can record a commentary while on location, which will help them to capture the mood of the moment and develop good descriptive skills as they talk about what they can see around them.

Interviews: prior to going out, ask pupils to think of questions they would like to ask people who live in the area. This helps them to focus on what they would like to find out. It is more effective if you can show them photos of the place they will be going first and the people who live there. If you're really keen, ask a volunteer to return to the class with you and be interviewed by the children

Sarah Haynes is a Year 2 teacher at Little Common School in Bexhill-on-Sea, East Sussex.

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