History Study Centre

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Time line feature – very nice!

The first thing we think you should try out on the History Study Centre is the Key Events Timeline feature. Very easy to use, just scroll back through time and use the colour-coded lines to locate key events in history. Clicking on the coloured line opens a short introductory paragraph about the event the line represents and more information is available via a hyperlink if we’re curious to know more.

With next year marking 100 years since the outbreak of World War I, we delved into the coverage the History Study Centre has, starting with images. We liked the fact that we could easily access the citation information for them, removing any problems we might have faced in trying to work out how we would handle presenting this kind of bibliographic data. We would have preferred to see thumbnails rather than a text list of available images but the short descriptions were helpful, as was the way the images were explained contextually once we clicked on them.

The next thing we liked was the opportunity to create a space within the resource to store information we wanted to refer back to without having to repeat our search. Creating this space was quick and easy plus we could organise our documents into separate folders, so we didn’t have to mix up topic areas.

The Information Sources tab provided clear explanation of the History Study Centre and we also found the Monthly Theme on the homepage helpful as an introduction to the chosen topic – this December it’s the History of Science – and finally we found it easy to navigate our way through a topic using the study units.


The Economist

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One of the first recommendations made to A-level students is to make use of the press to keep up-to-date with current affairs.

Here at DC we subscribe to a range of newspapers and periodicals in print and digital formats. All digital content can be accessed via your MyDulwich homepage e-resources menu.

The Economist offers a handy Google search box on its website which means that we can swiftly find articles from its archive without having to sift through back issues (although these are available in the Reference Section of the Wodehouse Library).

Since the search is facilitated by Google we have to think smartly about the search we make in order to achieve a manageable number of results. So, for example, if we type far right politics in the search box of The Economist’s website we get 40,000 results and our search refiner tools are only ‘relevance‘ and ‘date‘ which means we need to alter our search a little.

Adding speech marks to our search term (i.e.: “far right politics“) makes Google look for the exact phrase in The Economist’s archive and reduces our results to just 80, which is still a lot but short abstracts and article titles help us to choose which results might be helpful in our research and if we’re tracing how an event or issue has progressed over time we can re-order our results by date.

Once we’ve decided an article is useful to us we can e-mail the details of it or print it, either method allowing us to keep track of the bibliographic data we need to present if we use ideas or quotes from the piece.

The Economist’s online archive goes back to the late 1990s and the website offers users access to content that wouldn’t be found in the print edition so it’s worth considering using this e-resource as a supplement to your regular reading.

Advent Window E-resources

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Every day until we break up for Christmas we’re going to be looking at one of the e-resources you can access from your MyDulwich homepage.

This is much better than having an actual advent calendar with chocolates in it. Enjoy!

Beethoven’s lost penny

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Every last penny seems important at Christmas time so we thought we’d make Beethoven’s lost penny the topic of our first Advent Window E-resource.

Choosing an appropriate e-resource was fairly straight forward: Oxford Music Online (OMO) is a gateway for information from a range of sources. Here at DC our online subscription includes Grove Music Online, The Oxford Dictionary of Music and The Oxford Companion to Music.

The OMO homepage offers browse options as well as a search box, which is where we started using the search term: ‘Beethoven’s lost penny’.

OMO returns 6 hits for our search term to Google’s 1,4000,000 so for getting started with our research into Beethoven’s lost penny OMO offers an efficient route to reliable information because OMO draws on the work of experts. A simple Google search leaves us having to critically assess each link we choose, so the time we could spend reading about our topic is eaten up in deciding whether or not to trust the information in the first place. Remember, too, that when you are compiling your bibliography you want to demonstrate that you chose your sources intelligently and you also want your teachers to be able to retrieve the same information you did so that your arguments can be seen to stand up under scrutiny.

Okay, so back to our 6 OMO results. Straightaway we can see that they are categorised into biography and subject entries and the source of each result is shown along with an abstract where available.

We can e-mail our search results using a short form – again a valuable bibliographical tool that we should make use of – or we can print the results so that we have a record of the search terms and the sources of information we’ve used.

The results page offers a menu of further search refiners and once we’ve clicked on a result we are taken directly to the part of the page where words from our search term appear. Scrolling down, we can also see the bibliography for the articles and the author name. Back at the top of the article page, we again have options to print and e-mail the information plus there’s a ‘cite’ tool which means we can export the bibliographic data we need to avoid plagiarism and present a comprehensive bibliography with our work.

All we need to do now is read the articles and learn about Beethoven’s lost penny!

Free Learning Day, November 2013

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Thursday 14th November 2013 was Free Learning Day for DC’s Year 10 boys. The theme was “Who killed Christopher Marlowe?”

After a very interesting talk from barrister Mark Gatley, the coroner’s report on Marlowe’s death was read to Year 10 in preparation for the day’s activities, which included sword fighting and forensic discovery.

In the Wodehouse’s Inner Room, Mr Fletcher’s groups used the book The Rough Guide to Conspiracy Theories to analyse  the facts surrounding the death of Marlowe and some of the theories that have grown up around the story. Following this they looked at the deaths of some other significant figures that have become the subject of conspiracists including Malcolm X, John Lennon, Martin Luther King and Marilyn Monroe. Boys were divided between those who thought that there might be some truth in the theories and those that thought people believe what they want to believe and sometimes look for deeper meanings in events than are warranted.

In the IT Area Mrs Stein’s groups looked to the internet, using links stored on our Delicious bookmarks page to help them decide whether they believed the official version of events, i.e.: that Christopher Marlowe was killed by Ingram Frizer in a row over a bill.

Much lively discussion flowed from our reading with most groups deciding that they didn’t believe that Marlowe was killed as a result of a simple row over a bar bill, indeed, many doubted whether Marlowe really did die at Eleanor Bull’s establishment. His death was faked, said some, whilst others were persuaded by the idea that he was killed to protect information about his friends that he might have given up under torture!

Boys asked some excellent questions about their web-based research, comparing facts between sites and noticing differences. All the groups contributed keywords based on their reading which have been added to a tag cloud you can see here:

Tagxedo cloud

Upstairs in the Archives and in the Masters’ Library, Mrs Lucy, Mrs Cerio and Mr Weaver’s groups spent some time studying three key archival documents and their relevance to the staging of Christopher Marlowe’s plays. The College’s founder, Edward Alleyn, took the lead role in some of these plays. The Archives holds the Costume Inventory* which holds a costume for the Duke of Guise from The Massacre at Paris and one for Faustus from Dr Faustus. Henslowe’s Diary** which notes all the plays, their performance dates and box office takings was also examined as was the Platte, or plot, of the Second Part of the Seven Deadly Sins.***

*MS I f44



Wodehouse Library

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Blogging like this is new for us here in the Wodehouse Library and one of the reasons behind it is to let you know more about what the Library is for and how you can make best use of it.

Firstly, the Wodehouse Library is here to support literacy and learning.

We have the 42 and 66 reading lists to which all Middle and Upper School boys are introduced at the start of Michaelmas term each academic year. Both lists offer a range of books to challenge, stimulate and encourage boys to enjoy reading as a leisure activity. New fiction titles are added throughout the year and we’re happy to take requests from boys and staff so that you can always find something you’ll enjoy.

As well as the packed fiction shelves the Wodehouse Library offers non-fiction in support of every subject taught at DC. Subject reading lists are available and library staff are always on hand to help with discovering texts that will provide not only the key information needed for exam success but also those which extend the curious, offering that little something extra that might impress at a university interview.

With the internet available so readily it can be easy to overlook the reference titles that are on hand but our reference books offer a swift option for gathering facts and figures without fuss. We keep back issues of key journals too, whilst all the current editions are on the shelves in the Periodicals Room, you can retrieve interesting articles from the back issues very easily.

Having mentioned the internet above it’s worth knowing too that through the Wodehouse Library DC boys and staff have access to some wonderful online resources, such as Britannica Online and JSTOR, as well as online access to many of the print titles in the Periodicals Room. The beauty of using these e-resources is that they offer a taste of the independent learning that many DC boys will experience at university, including gaining familiarity with citation and bibliography styles.

We’ll delve deeper in to more of what the Wodehouse Library has to offer in subsequent posts on this blog but we hope we’ve whetted your appetite here.

Sir Ranulph Fiennes

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On Thursday 6th November, the College was extremely privileged to host an afternoon talk by Sir Ranulph Fiennes. Visiting on the launch date of his new book “Cold”, Sir Ranulph spoke in great detail about his experiences in brutally cold environments, offering advice for aspiring explorers. Described as “the world’s greatest living explorer” by the Guinness Book of World Records, Sir Ranulph was first to reach both the North and South Poles and first to circumnavigate the world along its polar axis. In 2003 he completed the first 7x7x7 (seven marathons in seven consecutive days on all seven continents), illustrating his versatility in a number of different environments.

BBC Radio 4 presenter Justin Webb and Sixth Former Michael Godson interviewed Sir Ranulph and questions were taken from the floor. Some of the most interesting questions included; “what has been your most dangerous experience?” to which Sir Ranulph recounted his loss of several fingers to frostbite on a solo expedition. Overall, the interview went very smoothly and with an approximate attendance of around 400 people, it was a very successful evening for the promotion of the Geography Society as well as giving the boys the opportunity to meet Sir Ranulph Fiennes in person and have a book signed by him.

Many thanks to Mr Fletcher and Miss Woolley for organising the event in conjunction with Dulwich Books and the publisher Simon and Schuster.

John Reed