Activity prompts thought

Peter Davison

INTO TECHNOLOGY By Annette Bindon and Andrew Cooper Nelson. Pupil's Book 1. Pupil's Book 2 Pounds 5.25 each Teacher's Resource Book A Pounds 22.99.

Into Technology is an activity-based course for use in primary and middle schools. The full complement consists of five pupil's books, one for each year across the seven to 12 age range, supported by two Teacher's Resource Books. Only the books for the first two years of key stage 2 are under review here.

Without doubt, this is an ambitious scheme in its aim to support teachers in meeting the requirements of the revised national curriculum for design and technology, Scottish Environ-mental Studies for seven to 12-year-olds, and the Northern Ireland curriculum.

Correlation charts attempt to reconcile different points of emphasis and to show how the scheme can be used to teach the three distinctive curricula. These are clear and provide a well-planned system for monitoring coverage of the requirements. Even so, this series raises a few questions.

First, why focus on seven to 12-year-olds when most schools in the UK are not organ-ised on a middle-years basis? Second, was the decision to focus on three national curricula influenced by a belief that they had sufficient in common or did economic considerations prevail? And, third, does the use of symbols (to represent areas of knowledge and skills) and icons (to suggest appropriate working groups) complicate a complex series?

The Teacher's Resource Book contains some concise information on cross-curricular links, recommended resources and safety. On assessment and recording, it gives realistic examples of pupil tracking sheets which many teachers may adapt to suit their schemes of work.

The assignments are inter-esting, appropriate and cover many materials and techniques. In all three books, the text provides clear guidance,illustrations ensure clarity and charts should help pupils to record data and observations systematically. A particularly commendable feature in the teacher's book is a teaching points and information insert for each assignment which gives succinct but sufficiently technical information. This will be appreciated by non-specialists.

While this series encapsulates some enlightened thinking, careful planning and sound approaches, it would be surprising if many schools used these books as intended by the authors. Teachers will probably dip into them from time to time to support individual schemes of work.

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