MASTERMINDS

Masterminds do it together! Why not try a little collaborative research to spice up your learning life?

HOW?
1. Discuss with the class the next topic to be tackled, dividing it up with them into manageable and, as far as possible, equal chunks. 2. Ask class members to organise themselves into small research groups. Some of the options for different types of groupings can be found under Groups Galore. You might suggest that mixed skill is likely to be the most appropriate type of grouping for Masterminds. 3. Each research group takes a different aspect of the topic and is expected to research it thoroughly by a common deadline. Resources both in and out of the classroom can be used. The teacher is on hand to advise on information sources and research methods. 4. At the appointed time, groups enter the Masterminds competition as experts in their field of research. The rules are those of the famous TV show except that the whole team enters and conferring on all answers is allowed. The questions set by the teacher should reflect the standards of whatever official assessment the students are facing: Basic Skills, GNVQ, GCSE, A level ...

APPLICATIONS
♦ At any age in any subject as long as resources can be found for the learning in hand. ♦ For example in modern languages - researching different verb patterns, different parts of speech, the basic vocabulary for various topics (using audio or video as well as text resources). ♦ Particular successes have been noted at A level and in GNVQ.

WHY DO IT?
This strategy demands a variety of study skills: time-management; information-accessing; information-selecting and information-recording. In addition, a range of social skills are required for successful team work and (if outside resources are being used) for working with adults out of school. Such skills are only acquired by practice, through exercises like this. Once the game is over, it will be important to spend some time reflecting on what has been learned about learning. In short, the activity promotes independent learning.

VARIATIONS
1. Groups can put forward just one person to be their 'entrant'. 2. Groups can devise the Mastermind questions for other groups. This way they have to research two topics. 3. Rather than being used to start a new topic, Masterminds makes an excellent revision strategy using textbooks and students notes as resources. 4. After the game, the research can be used for peer teaching. Get the students to form mixed groups - one person from each of the original teams - they take it in turns to teach each other. 5. Any unanswered or wrongly answered questions in the game can be cleared up by the teacher.

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