Autumn walk

Caroline Ogden
Hallfield Infant School
This article first appeared in MAPE Focus on Science Autumn 2000

I have a lovely job. I work 0.5, teaching ICT to children in Years 1 and 2. I usually take groups of 816 children at a time, although sometimes I take the whole class to introduce something new or to show the class and teacher how to use a new disc/program. I work in the library, which has three multimedia, networked computers. I am very lucky as I love teaching using ICT and I always have hordes of children asking to come with me at lunchtime and 'do you need some help?'

A typical start consists of showing all the children what I want them to do or learn (today was using the scanner, for example, and last week we focused on making capital letters not using caps lock! and inserting and deleting using the arrow keys). To consolidate the explanation I ask 'who thinks they could talk me through it?' and we then go through it with them telling me what to do. I then choose two of the most confident and watch them, most confident first then second. Then the best/most adept chooses a friend and helps them do it and so on until the activity has been cascaded through the whole group. While they are doing that the others are using the other computers to practise what they have already learned. Over the year I cover part of the QCA scheme of work for Y2 and teach general ICT skills and use it for other areas for them and Y1.

Last Autumn I used the Infant Explorer website http://www.naturegrid.org.uk/infant/swan/bksw.html as a part of a project on the seasons which presented lots of opportunities for the use of ICT. The Infant Explorer website has been designed by teachers specifically for early years and KS1 children. It focuses on literacy, but also encourages an awareness of the natural world. The website provides a selection of big books and accompanying plans and resources to support learning. One of the big books is about an autumn walk and this was the basis of our project. For all the work I had ten children and the rest were with their class teacher.

We began by talking about autumn, how trees change and what other signs there are. We then went for a walk around the playground to look for the above. The children were introduced to the words 'deciduous, evergreen, berries, stickybuds and conkers' (most knew that one) and learned to identify the horse chestnut and the mulberry trees in the playground. We took photographs (with a digital camera) and made close observational drawings.

Back in the library we looked at appropriate books and found the Infant Explorer site on the Internet (I showed the children how to use Favourites for this). We read the big book 'Sebastian's Waddle' as a shared text with the group sitting around a monitor, taking turns to click on the arrows using the mouse. We compared Sebastian's walk and our own.

To record the work the children scanned their drawings and wrote captions. They took a real interest in scanning and there are now ten children in Y2 who can do this unaided. Others wrote short sentences and found clipart to illustrate them.

Unfortunately, children do not always take very successful photographs but they were able to write captions for some that I took. Another group, with help, made a short focused worksheet for groups of children from other classes to use on future autumn walks.

It all went very well. The children loved going out and looking at things and the activity was very appropriate for a largish, mixed ability group.

There was also lots of stimulation and development for those of our children who have English as an additional language. Because we used such a variety of ways of recording I was able to differentiate the work, stretching the most able and providing slower graduated steps in learning for those having difficulties.

Our Autumn Walk involved the children in using a website, a scanner, a digital camera, MS Publisher and Word. Not bad for an 'outdoors' sort of project!

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