Pointers to success

18th March 2005 at 00:00
Standard Grade Modern Studies: Course Notes. by Patrick Carson and Irene Morrison. Leckie and Leckie pound;9.99

As a principal teacher of modern studies, I often wonder whether I'm doing the right thing at Standard grade.

My students use the (excellent) textbooks and fill their folders with notes. Then, before the exam, I hand out revision booklets with all of the key facts and the pupils understandably ask "So, do I not need my folder work anymore?"

It's a good question. I mumble something about making revision notes and then reading through their folder to "add depth to an answer", but I have a nagging doubt that if I just gave them what they needed to know throughout the course, then we could work in different, and perhaps better, ways, with debates, investigational visits and so on.

This book could turn such ideas into reality. Incredibly well focused, it is written by two people who really know what they are doing. Knowledge and understanding is developed through summaries of all syllabus areas. The sections also contain various activities, hints and tips on exam technique and pointers to a dedicated website which allows students to research topics further. It looks good and is very accessible.

A superb 30-page enquiry skills section will stimulate teachers to rethink their approach to skills development and homework. SQA markers will be impressed and will spot that students who follow the advice will almost certainly improve their exam performance. This section alone is worth the cover price.

Despite the radical possibilities, most teachers will use this book to support a course centred on existing textbooks, but even so they would still be freed up to do more of what they would like to do. It is an essential source book for every modern studies teacher and every student sitting Standard grade modern studies this summer.

Gavin Clark is principal teacher of modern studies and history at Dunbar Grammar, East Lothian

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