Hillcroft LRC

Archive for June 2015

Reading Ahead posterOn Wednesday 24 June we passed over Six Book Challenge certificates to our students from Future Proof/Next Level and Dyslexia: Reading at our Diversity and Achievement Day. They’ve done a great job reading 6 items each and reviewing them ahead of the 29 June national deadline for the prize draw. We’ll be entering their names for the prize draw. If they win they will get a free trip to London with a friend. There is also the chance to win Kobo Touch ereaders.

Six Book Challenge helps adults boost their reading skills, gain confidence and read more. This is the end of our third year of the programme and it’s a delight talking to students about their reviews and giving them a sticker of their choice as they review each item.

The Reading Agency who run the Six Book Challenge reading programme have renamed and rebranded the programme for next year. It will now be known as Reading Ahead. Same format – just an emphasis that one of the six items you read can be anything from a website to a leaflet, to a recipe, or a magazine article, poem, email or book. We’ll be getting some of the new promotional material ready for starting it in our autumn 2015 term. Find out what Hillcroft College: courses are coming up at Hillcroft on our website.

If you’ve got a child then look out for local public libraries running the Summer Reading Challenge to keep up their reading over the school break. Kingston Libraries local to our college are running this for kids and for adults.

 

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Yesterday at Achievement and Diversity Day we celebrated the work of students and staff this year. Many students are finishing at Hillcroft for at least the time being. You may well be thinking of new goals to strive for whilst in between studies and/or jobs. It can be hard to stay motivated once all the deadlines are over and you are not in a learning environment regularly.

I thought Street Step has come up with a neat idea to gain employability skills and have fun. This charitable organisation takes a social and active approach to young people (especially women) who are unemployed to get them in new jobs. You can go to their free weekly dance and fitness classes and then join their employability programme. There’s not much better way to shake off a lack of motivation than through dance and joining a community.

What are employability skills anyhow? You may be asking. There’s no single definition, but includes elements such as time-management, communication, team-work and increasingly digital know-how. Most likely you have a ton of them already but everyone needs help in honing them and finding your strengths. Your tutor, friends and family will be able to help you identify them too.What you have learnt at Hillcroft is only the beginning and now you’d be in a better position to help others. This was a common theme in the student talks yesterday: giving back and moving forward.

This reminds me too of the City Opportunities event for young people who experienced in care environments. This is held next month by the London South Bank University and is free to attend if you qualify. It is a 5-day programme to set young people on a career path. They are making finance, business and law more accessible to those who may not see those pathways as open to them.

These are only two possible avenues to explore. Hopefully they inspire you. Even when you are no longer at Hillcroft you will have so many opportunities available to you with lifelong learning.

Garden at Hillcroft through the LRC windowPlans are under way at Hillcroft for celebrating achievement and diversity day 2015 on Wednesday.

There will be live music, BBQ-style food, a singalong, face-painting, henna tattoos and award-giving.

The garden is looking fantastic and all we need now is the good weather to stay. We are inviting all students from courses in the last year, their children and relatives are welcome. Please check your Hillcroft emails for the invite details.

Pop into the LRC before or after the event to return your books/DVDs in the red bin behind the door.

We are looking forward to seeing you soon.

Pocket study guidesNext week our Access to Higher Education Humanities and Social Science and Access to Health and Human Sciences and Preaccess students finish their courses. Our Access to Higher Education students will be waiting to start university in the autumn term. If you are like them then Palgrave Study Skills website is useful in reducing those pre-university jitters before you begin a new course of study.

The Palgrave Student Life area gives you advice on everything you need to know about study at university before it starts! Your First Weeks at University gives you a thorough grounding of what to expect when you begin student life – everything from halls of residence, to freshers’ week and socialising. Getting in the Study Mindset advises you on how to get yourself in the zone for studying. The Look After Your Wellbeing page gives you hints on eating, sleeping, dealing with stress and getting exercise. Its Common Challenges and Getting Help helps you overcome homesickness and nerves and boost your confidence.

Their Essential Study Skills page gives you advice on drawing up a learning strategy, organising your time, reading and getting the most out of independent study whether you are going on to study at university or going to study at local college.

If you’ve got some money in your pocket then you would do well to equip yourself with the Study Skills Handbook by Stella Cottrell which has more advice again. Why not invest £8.99 in the Palgrave Student Planner 2015-16 to get yourself ready for your studendom?

It is hard to remember all your tasks let alone to stay focused on them.  This is especially true if the task is long and has many daunting steps (*ahem*…essay-writing and revision).

There are great apps for your phone, tablet or computer that help you with your to-do lists and productivity. The app called Epic Win sounds innovative with every task you complete giving you the opportunity to enhance your online persona or get to the next level. Turning life admin into a game is one method to stay motivated.

For essay writing and revision, one technique that has been around a fair few years is the Pomodoro technique. Coming from the Italian word for tomato which was the shape of the timer the inventor of the technique used. It is especially good for complex tasks such as completing academic work.

According to the technique the key is to work productively in short stints of 25 minutes. During this timed period you must work and only work. But when the alarm goes off to mark the completion of a productive time period then you get a short (5 minute) break. You could get a cuppa, check Facebook or just otherwise daydream -whatever little reward floats your boat. Then you go back to your productive time. After 3-4 cycles of productivity and short rests you get a longer break (15-30 mins).

The Pomodoro technique may sound a bit too regimented for some, plus what happens if you have just got into something and the alarm for a break goes off? You have to work how it suits you, but perhaps this time-management technique can be part of an armory of other ways to keep your nose to the grindstone.

You can use a timer or find a Pomodoro inspired app online. Some apps like Keep Focused and Pomodairo let you input and save what you intend to work on in the productive session. So you have a record of what you have been doing and can see what you have achieved at a glance.

It’s much healthier than the gummy bear motivational technique.

Last week we posted about novellas. We asked which of the prize-winning short books written by women would you like to read whilst at Hillcroft:

Being a college for women means that we try to make women feature prominently in our book collections where suitable. Not just female authors, but female characters too. Yet would we want to read books by women about women? According to the article ‘Books about women less likely to win prizes, study finds‘ – apparently not. Women seem to prefer books about male lead characters and supports the argument for “women’s perspectives being considered uninteresting or unworthy” (Flood 2015).

Uninteresting? Unworthy?….Really?

Do the above novellas feature women as main characters? After reading the short summaries below, do those with main female characters sound as interesting as the other stories?

Three Blind Mice is a murder mystery with a bunch of characters stuck in a house together knowing one of the group is a killer.

The Photograph centers around a female character, Kath… who is dead.

The Grandmothers is about two women who fall in love with each other’s sons.

The Awakening is about a woman who has an unhappy marriage (controversial when it was written in 1899!)

The Artist of Disappearance is about a man called Ravi who lives in solitude on a mountain in India.

The Pre-War House & other stories features families often in dark situations.

Black Water centres on a woman who is attracted to a very powerful, older man at a party.

Heartstones is a Gothic thriller about two sisters living with their widowed father. One of the sisters is obsessed with taking her mother’s place.

Brokeback Mountain is about love between two cowboys.

Mathilda is told by a woman on her deathbed about her sad life without a mother and a disastrous relationship with her father. Published 150 years after it was written because it was so controversial.

Prime of Miss Jean Brodie is centred around the sinister influence that a charismatic female teacher has on girls in school.

Black Sheep is an especially bleak tale about a family in a small mining village.

So there we have it, lots of family drama and controversial relationships. There are strong and strange female characters aplenty. Yet all the stories are based in Western cultures apart from The Artist of Disappearance – but addressing that issue would be another whole blog post.