Successful maths teaching depends on imagination and invention and these engaging kits are a welcome addition to the repertoire. Eight titles on two DVD-Roms span the secondary maths curriculum offering flexibility of use, with instant lessons for interactive whiteboard or individual work, and a lesson builder which encourages you to change content and import sound, text, illustration and video.
Modules prepared for key stage 3 are structured at three levels, though much of the material in the units is repeated across these levels.
The higher kits tackle an impressive range of concepts and bring a refreshing new dimension to modern maths teaching. The maths is delivered through a series of graphic demonstrations punctuated with activities and tests. Each tutorial can be supported by friendly narration, and a pause button ensures the independent learner can synchronise narrative, text and illustration.
Once primed with pen, paper and keyboard, the concepts are built through imaginative visuals and ideas, with ample opportunity for the alert teacher to mediate.
The display is user-friendly, providing an effective learning interface for the senior kits. Menus are clear and support smooth navigation through the modules.
High-attaining students can work through challenging material and those fearful or disenchanted with maths could well be attracted by the quizzes in which success leads to rewards in the guise of exciting games. What's more fun than shooting flying saucers, entering a virtual alien world, negotiating a maze or producing your own video sequence from outstanding clips?
Although this software does not fully exploit the learning opportunities promised by digital media, Birchfield has made a considerable leap forwards with its interactive elements. Apart from the time-honoured drag and drop and multiple choice, students can manipulate graphics and make controlled inputs. Allied to a formidable array of high-quality illustrations, these structured activities assist understanding. The distinctive, well-crafted figures and 3D objects support the development of number and spatial awareness.
John Bailey is a product developer and former teacher