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Unearthing TV's buried treasure

A new BBC training pack proves TV and radio are not passive teaching media, says Ian Wilson. It came as a surprise to discover that of the TV programmes available to teachers, the least used are those on mathematics.

This pack from the BBC is designed to develop skills for the effective use of broadcasts, and to challenge the misconception that using television and radio is a passive classroom activity. It is intended to provide material for in-service training, and will take about three hours to cover, so it could easily be completed during a school's training day.

The pack includes a video cassette of three programmes, their accompanying Teacher's Notes, overhead projector transparencies for use by the tutor, tutor's notes, and response sheets for the teachers using the module.

Teachers are reminded that programmes on mathematics can emphasise the use and application of maths in everyday life as well as motivate children by helping them to see maths as an enjoyable activity. One of the great benefits of television is that animations can be used to explain ideas, especially in geometry and algebra. Work on shape, symmetry and three dimensions can often be enhanced through the use of selected material from TV programmes.

The three sample programmes are from the Number Time series for four to five-year-olds, Mathscope for the seven to nine age range and Square One for nine to 11-year-olds. They give a good idea of the range of ideas which can be conveyed on TV, and of the many techniques used in them. For example, in the Square One programme on Angles, actresses Linda Robson and Pauline Quirke are pirates looking for buried treasure by following a map that includes instructions on angles as well as how many paces to step. Helen Lederer follows as hostess of a game show-type challenge, in which two teams of pupils have to program a floor turtle to navigate an obstacle course. Then there is a song about angles from a rock group, illustrated by a dance routine showing angles in body movement!

The sheets, which are designed for teachers to record their responses to the programmes, are rather simplistic, but this pack will provide useful material for those who have been apprehensive about these relatively cheap resources.

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