26th January 2007 at 00:00
Ages 11 to 16

This activity, which I call time travel tours, livens up the often dull writing triplet, to inform, explain and describe. Pupils produce a holiday guide to a place and time of their choice.

Start with the Ray Bradbury short story, A Sound of Thunder, where Time Safari Inc. takes you back to hunt a tyrannosaurus. Pupils then create their own time travel itinerary (allow the dinosaur era if you want, or tell them that franchise is already taken).

Then they research what their tourists would see, whom they could meet and what they might do - right down to what the food and accommodation would have been like in, say, Caesar's Rome or Cleopatra's Egypt.

From 1066 to 1966, the scope for personalisation is immense. Real travel guides help model the style; but students can't just print off their research and use it unchanged.

Pupils have to select and shape informative material to create something genuinely new and exciting.

Useful book: A Sound of Thunder and other stories by Ray Bradbury (published by Harper Perennial, ISBN 0060785691).

John Gallagher is head of English at Stratford-upon-Avon Grammar School for Girls in Warwickshire

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