Page last updated at 13:39 GMT, Wednesday, 16 March 2011

Diary of a digital mentor

Students talk to Maddy
BBC School Report mentor Maddy Savage has communicated with Tomlinscote School pupils mostly via phone

School Report tries to offer as many BBC mentors to as many schools as possible, and this mentoring can take all sorts of forms.

For some mentors it will involve heading to the school to help run a lesson or workshop, but in this digital age BBC mentors can make a huge impact by using using email, phones and Skype.

One mentor who has gone down this route is BBC World Service reporter Maddy Savage, who has been linking up with Tomlinscote School in Surrey.

Maddy helped students with their production, which at times mimicked her own work with the World Service as regimes fell in the Middle East and the earthquake devastated Japan.

These diary entries give a flavour of what it's like to be a digital mentor, and also a teacher and student supported by that mentor in School Report.

Wednesday 16 March - Maddy Savage, BBC School Report mentor

I am so proud of the Tomlinscote School Report team for the way they responded to the earthquake in Japan last week! Checking the reading on the school's seismometer was a great idea.

When big international news stories happen it is always useful to look for a local or national angle. Mrs Sutton and the pupils are born journalists and they were lucky to have Mr French on hand to explain the science.

As the School Report team continue to prepare their final reports for the big day, I'm in the midst of another busy week doing a similar thing for the BBC World Service.

Growing numbers of countries have raised their travel warnings and are encouraging foreign workers to leave Japan so I have been monitoring the latest developments. This year's School Report is certainly taking place during a fascinating period of international news!

I have really enjoyed working with my School Report team and I can't wait to read, watch and listen to their reports next week.

Good luck to everyone involved with BBC School Report for the final few days!

Monday 14 March - Dayna, Year 9 pupil, 14

It's been amazing to have the chance to study our seismometer after an event like the Japan earthquake.

The readings are fantastic and I believe that it is the biggest quake it has ever recorded. It was great to hear our physics teacher Mr French talking about the earthquake.

The School Reporters at Tomlinscote School with the seismometer
Mr French shows pupils the seismometer readings

He explained to us how the vibrations travel through the earths crust and the various stages that occur throughout. He was also on BBC radio!

Everyone at school has been so worried about the effect the earthquake will have on Japan. The images are really upsetting and it is really making everyone here realise how lucky we are not to be in such an earthquake-prone area of the world.

However this is also a great opportunity for our BBC School Report team. We are continuing to discuss the quake and how we can report on it.

Friday 11 March - Sue Sutton, teacher

We came into school this morning to hear the terrible news coming from Japan. Amazingly we were able to detect the earthquake on our school's seismometer.

I couldn't believe the images and I asked Mr French to help explain them. I took a photo of him talking to our students.

I knew it was Maddy's day off so I didn't want to disturb her for advice so decided to email the photo straight to School Report HQ in BBC Television Centre! The response was amazing and phone calls and emails were zooming to and fro all day and a story was published on the website.

BBC South asked for an interview with Mr French and our local paper is also planning to take some photos. As the tragedy unfolds we can continue to track the vibrations from the quake.

Thursday 10 March - Maddy Savage, BBC School Report mentor

BBC World Service reporter Maddy Savage
Maddy grabs a few minutes to chat to the School Report team from the office

Ever had one of those days where the clock seems to be ticking at double the usual speed?!

It's been like that all week for me. I've been super-busy monitoring developments in Libya for the BBC World Service and BBC World. So busy that I had to chat to pupils at Tomlinscote School while I was putting on my make-up in the toilets just before I went on air. And you thought TV was glamorous!

As we've been doing for the past few weeks, the School Report team spoke to me using a mobile phone on loud speaker in one of their classrooms and they each took it in turns to ask me a question.

One pupil asked me what you should do if you make a mistake when you're live on TV or radio.

I really enjoyed sharing some of my experiences with the team and I was highly impressed with how their work is coming along. A few people at the BBC could definitely learn from their organisational skills!

By the way, the answer to that question is to relax, take a deep breath, say sorry if it was obvious and then move on.

Good luck everyone for the big day!

Friday 4 March - Sue Sutton, Tomlinscote School

The School Report team are working very hard and are becoming really excited about the project, especially after our recent delivery - a few days ago the official BBC School Report packs arrived and the pupils love their new ID cards!

The team have spent a lot of time putting together their stories but they seem to in my office every minute with more new suggestions.

Students talk with Maddy
The speakerphone enables all the students to get involved

Dayna, our editor, has made huge efforts in keeping the team on task!

We have now secured interviews with the coach of the Guildford Flames basketball team and one of our teachers who is from Brisbane has been telling pupils about the impact of the recent flooding there and how it has affected her family back home.

We have even managed to get in touch with some local royalty - but that's all I can say for now! I am taking the camera and video home to charge up as filming starts in earnest next week.

Then we'll check in with Maddy for some more tips. We've been using a speakerphone so that she can talk to me and several pupils at the same time.



SEE ALSO
Surrey school detects Japanese earthquake
11 Mar 11 |  School Report


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