Writing to inform and explain

Part of:

Google Expeditions
Lesson overview

In this lesson students will use Google Expeditions to explore the famous landmarks along the River Thames developing this information into an informative and explanatory text, understanding the purpose of this style of writing.

Learning outcomes
  • To distinguish the features of an enjoyable holiday
  • To explore various sights on the River Thames
  • To produce a script for a sightseeing tour

Expedition Prep Checklist

Download the Google Expeditions App on all devices and select the expedition Sites Along the River Thames.

Explore the expedition and locate points of interest.

Lesson steps
  1. Introduction (20 mins)
    Students discuss the key questions in pairs, groups or as a whole class: List three places you like to go on holiday. What would you expect to see at each place? What would you like to do there? What do you already know about each place?
    Students categorise the various events / places that people have visited to explain what makes a destination interesting, e.g. places of historical significance, famous architecture, relaxation holidays, unique landmarks, novel experiences.

    Students share the places they’ve listed with the class. Compose a list of the places under the headings above.
  2. Expedition (20 mins)
    Guide the students through the expeditions with the following questions: What stands out for you as you look around? What can you seen in this picture that you can’t see in any other city? What is familiar? What kind of building / place are you looking at? How could you describe it?

    Students work in groups of six, going on the Expedition together, and visiting each scene as a group (one student is appointed as leader). Students discuss the key features that they can see, e.g. the famous black cabs, certain buildings that catch their attention, what is interesting or unusual to them. Students record observations / ideas during the expedition.
  3. Activity (20 mins)
    Students select a scene (1 per group), using categories defined in the pre-expedition activity (e.g. Big Ben is a famous landmark) as a guide, students should create a script in which they talk about the features of their scene and why they are important. Emphasis should be placed on describing their scene in an interesting and entertaining way.

    Example: Tower Bridge is the one of the most recognisable landmarks in the world. It’s terrific towers are 65m high – can you believe it? And to think it was built in the 1800s! It was the sky-scraper of its time, and today we have that giant piece of glass reaching up into the sky – yes that’s the Shard, Europe’s tallest building.

    Select ‘success criteria’ depending on the ability of the group. This could include: each script should discuss at least two features of the scene; the use of humour and puns; an exciting tone; use at least four interesting adjectives; include some alliteration, include a simile, etc.

    Students collaborate to bring their different scripts together to create a guide book for tourists to use when visiting London so that students can include elements of graphic design.
  4. Extension
    Students create a guide for another Google Expedition. Students write a diary entry, entitled ‘My amazing day out in London’ in which they record what they saw / heard on their sightseeing tour.
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