I videotaped news and weather reports and showed them to the students and we discussed different aspects of the genre - how news is presented and chosen, for example. Students then prepared a two-minute news item on a local event or issue, researching their material from newspapers, the internet or TV. They worked in pairs initially, but when preparing their scripts and filming they could call on other young people to play roles.
Some also interviewed people in the community. Students wrote the dialogue on "teleprompts" (pieces of card), which were held above the camera while they talked. We recorded the piece, criticised it, then did it again. We also did some weather reports.
When we had a bank of material the BBC people came with lights, cameras and a special screen for weather reports. They gave us a PowerPoint presentation which explained the roles of different members of a film crew.
The students then played these roles to record programmes. The BBC team took the work to their studio and edited it, adding links and music before returning the very professional-looking tapes to us. Students gained confidence and realised how much work and planning goes into news presentations. It enhanced their understanding of the media, especially of news gathering and editing, and they learned a lot about media careers. It also markedly improved their presentation skills.
Brian Leslie, head of English, Dowdales School, Cumbria.