Archives for May 2010

Make the most of your memory - Part 2

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Alistair Mooney Alistair Mooney | 12:04 UK time, Monday, 24 May 2010

In the first Make the most of your memory Brainsmart Glow Meet, mind master Drew McAdam set a challenge to remember the last ten prime ministers in order, using the linking system.

He returned to Kirkintilloch High School two weeks later to see how the pupils had got on. They managed just fine, and some pupils mentioned they'd started using the linking system in their classwork. Have a look at the video of how the pupils linked one to the next using vivid, wacky images, the key to the technique. How would you link each of them? And how would you add David Cameron to the list?

This second visit and Glow Meet (Brainsmart Glow Group for those with access) focussed on learning about the loci system:

You can read more about the method of loci and Simonides on Wikipedia.

So how could you use this in real life? Drew showed exactly that - the classroom used for the session was in the History department, so he demonstrated how it could be used to describe the conditions in the trenches (see the Bitesize revision page on trench warfare for more detail), and the pupils showed how quickly they could recall the detail required to get credit marks in the Standard Grade exam.

You can put your mind to use for exams or entertainment. While wrapping up, Drew showed off how these techniques can be used to memorise contents of a newspaper. For more from Drew, check out his website, including videos on DrewTube!

To learn more about getting the best from your brain be sure to check out the newly updated Brainsmart site, including three new memory games to test how well you can put Drew's techniques into practice.

Your Landscape Story, Our Crew!

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Guest blogger | 10:26 UK time, Tuesday, 11 May 2010

We have an exciting opportunity for keen students to make their own film with our crew about their landscape. Our Producer, Neil Scott, will fill you in...
Your Landscape story

Last year, I had a cup of tea with David Gregory, HM Inspectorate of Education. We chatted about various ways that the BBC could support cross-curricular learning opportunities - particularly for S1 and S2 pupils. We had biscuits as well.

One of our thoughts was to offer students the chance to get themselves to the very heart of the content that the BBC makes for them. The "Your Landscape Story, Our Crew!" competition is a step in that direction. The idea is simple. Schools send us 300 words describing their idea for a five minute film about their local landscape and we select five ideas and film them.

It's a win, win situation for all. We get closer to the pulse of our audience and through participation in development workshops with the schools we will learn more about what excites them and what is relevant to them. Students will get an opportunity to purposefully think about their local patch as they assess which landscape features might be attractive and of interest in a national broadcast context.

The end reward for everyone should be some "spot on" learning content to share across the schools community and a better understanding of the challenges of programme making.

Those 300 words (or less!) offer a chance for students to work across subject boundaries and to take their local knowledge to a national broadcast platform for others to see and learn from.

So just what is it that's sitting on your very doorstep that people will sit up and take notice of? What secret has your neck of the woods got tucked away? It might be a natural feature, it might be a world war two bunker, and it might be the latest thing in clean energy development. Whatever it is, if it excites your students it's very likely to engage others and be a story worth sharing.

David Gregory, who is now one of the competition judges, spoke very passionately about the importance of finding relevancy and context for learners. This competition could meet some of his expectations so please help us by getting your entries to us by Tuesday 25th May. The other judges include Ollie Bray, Learning and Teaching Scotland; Scott Donaldson, Scottish Screen; and Dr Gill Stewart, Scottish Qualifications Authority. We look forward to seeing your entries soon.

Decision time

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Alistair Mooney Alistair Mooney | 14:15 UK time, Thursday, 6 May 2010

I haven't voted yet but am going to, on the way home from work in the primary school where my grandpa went as a boy. I always wished I'd gone to a school that was taken over as a polling station, and now that I'm grown up and boring I wonder if those schools do work an extra day as 'suggested', or just accept the bonus holiday once every few years. Or do problems arise if the general election falls on a day during exam time, as it is this year. Anyone having to up sticks from their normal exam hall?

I had just finished typing up a post linking to all the BBC campaign coverage and election content when an email came in from Editorial Policy reminding us not to publish or broadcast anything like that while the polls are open. In fact, I'm not sure I knew that it is a criminal offence to broadcast anything about the way in which people have voted in the election until after 10pm.

The way the campaign has been covered in the media has been fascinating and one I think would be good to cover in class: the tv debates, the papers taking sides, celebrities discussing their political thoughts on Twitter and suchlike. You can read more about Election 2010 and social media in a post by Newsdrive's Nick Rougvie on Radio Scotland's blog and follow BBC Scotland's political team on Twitter. A media studies and modern studies crossover could be added with a look back at the history, not only of political parties and their policies but of how Britain has developed over the century as a result. Our sites too explain about the differences in the politics with our view from north of the border, and our news colleagues will tackle the results from a Scottish viewpoint. And once again, do search through our clips library about voting and elections, including what happens in different countries.

I know too some schools have been running mock elections. I'd really be interested in hearing how any of these have gone. Stirling High School's S1 pupils have been making manifestos, posters, banners, flyers, rosettes and even a few Party Political Broadcasts. How about an election results special from you too? Show us what you can do and see how the professionals do it.

I would encourage everyone to use their vote today. Particularly if you're a first-time voter. Enjoy the coverage if you're staying up. I think I'll watch the tv coverage till I'm sleepy then stick on the radio and let Derek Bateman and crew round up the results till the morning. Let's see what happens...

You could be Dorothy!

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Claire O'Gallagher Claire O'Gallagher | 16:25 UK time, Wednesday, 5 May 2010

I'm absolutely hooked on 'Over The Rainbow', the latest talent search to find a new West End star. As well as showcasing some real singing talent, the show is simply the most kitsch thing I've seen on telly for ages (especially the bit where the departing Dorothy has to hand back her sparkly shoes...) - I'm still getting over poor Stephanie's departure last week.

What's this got to do with Learning, I hear you cry? Is this just an excuse for me to wax lyrical about my guilty pleasures? Normally I'd say yes, but actually there is a connection in this instance!

On 2nd May, BBC Learning held a couple of Over The Rainbow masterclasses at the Royal Concert Hall in Glasgow. Nearly 1500 people came along to find out if they could belt out a show tune, supported by the winner of I'd Do Anything, Jodie Prenger, some of our former Dorothys and the BBC Singers.


The crowd clearly loved their moment in the spotlight - who knows, we may see some of these participants treading the boards of a West End show in the near future!


Jenny Douglas, who's still in the running to be Dorothy, was also featured in TESS discussing her HNC at Motherwell College and how it set her on the road to stardom.

For those who couldn't make the event itself and who want to follow in Jenny's footsteps, there are loads of great tips on the BBC Sing website, as well as a handy Over The Rainbow guide to singing. As of next week, there will be video tutorials available on the main Dorothy site.

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