Lessons from the media: The Great British Bake Off

This is a guest post from Hélène Fyffe, an undergraduate starting her final year at Edinburgh Napier University, having spent a year on placement with Microsoft UK Education as part of her course.

Our last 'Lesson from the media blog' uncovered an exercise from the latest John Lewis Christmas advert, Monty the penguin, for your primary class to practice their written and presentation skills. We looked at how some adverts such as Monty the penguin can provide engaging and educational learning opportunities for your primary class to put their blossoming skills into practice.

Today we're going to pick out an exercise that will provide your primary learners with the opportunity to discover the great skill of research in a fun and familiar environment.

With the series having concluded in an almighty final of choux a la crèmes, windmills and Paul Hollywood trying to hide his jealousy at the finalists creativity, today's example is drawn from the Great British Bake Off. The suggested exercise would be well suited to a science or cookery lesson!


(The Great British Bake Off, BBC 2)

Research in education

Research is a vital part of every student's academic career, all the way from GCSE's up to finals at university, where it is evidently at its most challenging. Whether its writing an essay on one of Britain's great works of English literature, or creating a recipe for a food technology lesson, students have to draw their ideas and arguments from secondary sources in order to provide convincing arguments.

Today, we are lucky to live in a world where searching has simply become a norm of the modern life thanks to the power of search engines such as Bing. People from as young as primary level of education are well versed with the idea of researching online and I think it's reasonable to claim that search engine technology is nurturing young people with a natural curiosity to delve and discover.

Developing savvy research skills

Research has shown that young people don't believe everything they read online but despite this, academics advise that young learners needs to be guided so that they can identify the difference between reliable sources such as news articles, and unreliable sources like online forums.

With this in mind, today's blog will unveil a potential research exercise through the Great British Bake Off

Great British Bake Off exercise


(The Great British Bake Off, BBC iPlayer)

There was one particular episode of this year's season of the Great British Bake Off, when the 2014 winner Nancy Birthwhistle stumbled over the proving of her dough for a recipe. For those of you who didn't watch the bake off or this episode, whilst the other contenders carried out traditional proving techniques, Nancy took a risk to prove her dough in the microwave which ended in tears.

A fun research exercise for the class could be researching why Nancy's recipe for proving failed and why the other recipes succeeded.

Light up the exercise with Office Mix

For this particular research exercise, a quiz would be ideal . The latest Office 365 download, Office Mix could be an engaging medium for teachers to create a short presentation: teachers could integrate the Bake Off video clip, the exercise instructions and then interject the questions as a quiz. The advantage of Office Mix is that it would enable teachers to give students enough time to research their answers thanks to the timer feature, and would enable them to interject hints for where to research. Ideally students would work on this exercise individually with a device each.

Here is a short snippet of the 'dough proving' video clip for you to integrate into an Office Mix and/or to show the class as a whole.

While the quiz app would offer teachers with the opportunity to choose between multiple choice questions or open-ended questions, here are a few potential ideas:

· What is the scientific process of proving (prompt with an online source)?

· Why is proving necessary for the making of dough (prompt with an online source)?

· Give one example of a profession that needs to know how to prove dough?

· Why did Nancy's dough not prove? (this would be a good multiple choice opportunity)

· Name 5 different baking recipes that require proving (prompt with a few online sources)

As always, we'd love to hear about your class's experience so feel free to leave a comment at the end of the blog.

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