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Literacy In The Outdoors

In January, 22 Year 7 English students took part in a unique learning experience with 3 separate day trips out to a local campsite and activity centre at Hadlow Fields. The students grasped this chance to further develop their literacy skills whilst enjoying the different setting. This type of experience gives students the opportunity to explore their learning outside of the classroom and affords them skills to develop their independent learning.

DAY 1. CREATIVE WRITING “The Campfire”

On the first day, students were tasked to work together as a team to make a fire with the help of Mr McLoughlin and took part in a ‘sensory walk’ with Miss Arnold to reflect on how the fire and other aspects of the campsite affected their senses. After a short break to toast some marshmallows, students then used the skills they had learnt to write a piece entitled “The Campfire”, and read their work out to the group.

“I walked into the woods. The air was cold. The sky was dark, and there wasn’t a sound to be heard. The trees were watching, twisting their leafless branches towards me in the cold, sharp, air. Suddenly from nowhere, there came a loud crash and creatures scurried out from the woods. My heart was beating fast. My breath was rapid. Quickly, I ran as fast as I could, not knowing where I was going or what was happening. Then I saw it.”

DAY 2. WRITING INSTRUCTIONS 

The main aim of the second day was to improve ability to write for instruction. To begin, students were asked to stand back to back with one giving instructions on how to draw a simple image (a square, a heart, a bird or a house) and their partner following with a pen and paper. By the end, there were some very interesting interpretations! Students then put their new skills into practice with knot tying before taking a break for lunch (with hot chocolate made over their stoves!). In the afternoon, Mr McLoughlin helped the groups set up tents using written instruction, which was a success after a few frustrating tangles…

DAY 3. READING AND TEXT – READING ALOUD

For home learning, students had been asked to bring in some text they had been reading at home, and to read it aloud to the group – along with the teachers reading their creative writing from Day 1 around the campfire. The increase in confidence when performing was remarkable, and with this in mind groups were then asked to select an area of the campsite and began to rehearse a performance based on a given piece of text from “Grimms Tales”. After taking on board feedback and performance tips from the teachers, each group performed to everybody. With the final day drawing to a close, students were asked to reflect on their experiences with a personal evaluation – giving lots of positive feedback!

“I loved working together in a team and being up to the challenge of making a tent. I now understand adverbs, and I’m more confident reading out loud. Day 2 was my favourite day because I learnt how to make knots – I loved the activities” – Nicole

“I feel like I can read in class more, and be myself because I have gained more confidence and I feel like I can put more detail in my work. It has definitely been worthwhile because it is nice to be outdoors – you don’t just do work, you have fun!” – Abigail