Sherston Software, renowned for the quality of its primary products, has really gone to town to support the Literacy Initiative. Although the titles may be less than inspiring, the content is excellent and proving popular in primary classrooms.
Each Activity Bank: English CD-Rom, one each for Years 3 to 6, provides more than 150 appropriately pitched language exercises, focusing on the word and sentence level work for the Literacy Hour. The six activity types and styles are common throughout the suite, as is the useful self-monitoring individual pupil record system.
A very nice touch is that up to three pupils can be logged on together, encouraging group discussion and interaction which can prove to be so productive.
Although the main menu screen can seem a little daunting, the list of activities available can be restricted through the teacher's control facility. It may be wise to instruct children to go through the list in order. If they pick and choose, they will soon lose track.
"Coze" needs children to replace words deleted from a passage. "Identify" asks them to pick out certain given features in a short text. "Check" poses grammatical questions, like changing the tense of a verb. "Full Text" is a fault finding exercise, read the passage and correct the errors. "Comprehension" is self-explanatory while "Quiz" poses relevant multiple choice questions.
Positive reinforcement is built in via the facility to print out certificates noting each child's achievements to date.
Perhaps the strongest recommendation is that there were howls of protest, from children and teachers, when I asked for the review copies back. But be warned, these programs are painfully slow On older PCs.
Activity Bank: English Year 3, 4, 5 and 6 are dual-format (Apple Mac amp; PC) and available from Sherston Software, Angel House, Sherston, Wiltshire, SN16 0LH
Prices: pound;34.95 (exc VAT) each (multipack prices available). Tel: 01666-843200. email: firstname.lastname@example.org
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Suitability for purpose *****
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