BBC School Report mentors

  • 8 December 2015
  • From the section Home
Mentor Angie at work Image copyright School Report


For full details, visit our BBC mentors home page.

Mentors are often keen for ideas about what to do with pupils when they go into school.

This will vary from school to school, depending on the age of the children, the experience of the teacher, the size of the class and so on, but we have picked out a few suggested activities from our Teachers' Resources section which might help get you started.

It's always worth speaking to the teacher beforehand to see what areas they are planning to focus on, and to check what they have already covered.

But these hand-picked activities should cover most of the basics.

Don't forget, there are many more resources - videos, masterclasses, games, activities, guides and quizzes - available on the BBC School Report website. Contact the School Report team if you want more guidance.

Quiz: What is news and where to find it (10 mins)

This multiple-choice quiz is designed to test your knowledge of news programmes and services, sources, and truth and accuracy.

It also provides real-life scenarios to prompt discussions about the issues that surround the world of news.

Activity: Headline analysis (10 mins)

Compile a list of current news headlines. You may wish to scan the front pages of the BBC News, BBC Local News, Newsbeat, or CBBC Newsround websites, or other news websites, newspapers and school newsletters.

For each story, answer the question: Why is it in the news?

Here's a few examples:

Jeremy Corbyn elected new Labour leader - People need to know about it

Strictly stars reveal hopes, fears and leotard struggles - People want to know about it

Seal surfs humpback whale in Australia - It's unusual

News is essentially something people WANT to know or NEED to know. At the BBC, we say that news that people need to know is "in the public interest".

Activity: Sources and reliability (20 mins)

Work in small groups or as a whole class.

Without referring to books or the internet, try to answer some or all of the following questions:

• how many individual states are there in the United States?

• who is the most expensive footballer (in terms of transfer fee) in the history of the Premier League?

• name the last three winners of X-Factor

Did everybody agree on the same answers? If not, why do you think there were differences? And how did you decide what the right answer is?

Now double check your answers with your teacher or by researching online. Did you get it right?

Activity: Researching the news (20 mins)

Image copyright School Report
Image caption It helps when it's not you who does all the talking!

Work in pairs.

A, find a photo on a news website or a newspaper that you like the look of and show it to B, but don't let them read the story. B, try to answer these questions, drawing on information in the picture and any other knowledge you have of the story:

What happened?

It helps when it's not you who does all the talking!

Who is involved?

Where did it happen?

When did it happen?

B, you have been using your research skills. Looking closely and asking the right questions are some of the research skills needed by journalists. But journalists should never assume anything! Checking your facts is another vital research skill.

B, check your answers with A, who has more information about the story.

But BBC journalists never take just one person's word for it, and try to find at least two sources for the same news story before they report it.

A and B, find another source for your story (a different news website or a different newspaper) and check your answers.

Video: Interviewing tips and tricks (2 mins video + 2-3 mins to recap/discuss)

Former BBC Sport reporter and presenter David Garrido gives his key points to remember when conducting an interview.

His examples are from the world of sport, but they hold true for any topic - good research, asking open questions and listening carefully to the answers are the essentials of a good interview

David emphasises the importance of identifying areas to probe in advance, as well as developing a good rapport with your interviewee.

Activity: Open and closed questions (15 mins)

Image copyright School Report
Image caption BBC mentor Chi Chi Izundu in action with pupils from Langdon School

Work in pairs.

A asks B the following questions:

1. Do you like school?

2. Do you meet your friends during break?

3. Is homework set every day?

4. Do you eat school dinners?

Now, as a pair, answer this question: Which questions generated the best answers?

Imagine the difference between hearing: "They're great, apart from we only have chips on Friday!" and "I think school dinners are great, except that we only have chips on Friday!"

Now B ask A questions these questions:

5. What do you like about school?

6. What do you do during break-time?

7. How much homework do you receive?

8. What do you think of school dinners?

A, you must include the "question in your answer" (i.e. "What I didn't like about school dinners...) so that it makes sense to a listener or viewer without the question.

Now, pick a topic to interview each other about. Take it in turns to ask each other as many open questions as you can in a minute. Under pressure, it's not always easy to avoid closed questions!

Video: Recording vox pops (1 min 30 secs video + 2-3 mins to recap/discuss)

Watch Melanie Grant, who's worked at 1Xtra, Radio 1 and Radio 4, on location at a market as she offers her top five tips for recording vox pops for a radio package.

Her advice includes helping people to feel at ease, listening to what they have to say and recording a variety of voices from a diverse range of people.

Activity: Vox-popping (15 mins)

Think of a news topic, something about which lots of people have an opinion.

Now write down an open question to do with the topic (one beginning with one of the five W's or How). Make it count - you want a question that will really bring out the most interesting views.

Ask a range of people the question (at least five people) and record their answers.

Now select which answers - and which bits of the answers - to use in a news report. Remember to get a balance of opinions.

Activity: Writing captions (15 mins)

Image copyright School Report
Image caption Students are often enthusiastic about being School Reporters

Students are often enthusiastic about being School Reporters

The captions on the BBC's picture galleries are a good example of how to write a story in a very concise way - usually just one sentence.

Find a picture gallery on the BBC News' In Pictures section that interests you.

Take off the captions by clicking on the "hide captions" button at the bottom right of the first picture.

Now write your own captions for the photos.

Then unhide the captions, if you're working online. If offline, look at the captions/story information in the newspapers or newsletter.

Compare your captions with the ones written by the BBC/newspaper journalist and answer these questions:

1. What do you notice about the language they use?

2. Which of the 5W's - and How - are used the in captions?

Activity: Answering the 5 W's (10 mins)

Work in pairs.

Print out a story that interests you from the BBC News, BBC Local News, Newsbeat, or CBBC Newsround websites, or from other reliable news websites, newspapers or school newsletters.

Go through the story and underline or highlight the parts which answer the 5 W's - the Who, What, Where, When and Why. And there is usually a How in there as well.

Virtually every story should be able to answer these questions - is your story missing any of the 5 W's? What questions would you need to ask to find out the answers?

Now discuss your answers with the class.

Activity: Compiling a running order (20 mins)

You are producing a TV news bulletin for teenagers. The bulletin has to have six stories.

Look at today's news stories on the BBC News, BBC Local News, Newsbeat, or CBBC Newsround websites. You might also like to look at other news websites/newspapers.

Choose six stories to put in this running order worksheet.

You must include a lead story and an "and finally" story.

You may also want to use a news round-up, in which case, place grouped stories in a single story slot on the worksheet.

Activity: Running order in pictures (20 mins)

The BBC News website's Day in Pictures is a good example of a picture gallery that tells some of the day's stories in photos and text.

If you have access to slideshow software, create a six-slide gallery and try to tell the story with your captions.

Alternatively, cut out photographs from newspapers and/or the school newsletter.

Slide 1 should be the lead story and slide 6 the "and finally". Add captions to each picture to explain the story.

Only use photographs from the BBC website which have AP, PA, AFP or GETTY IMAGES in the right-hand corner; the BBC has gained copyright permission for you to these ones.

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