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A great leveller

BBC MATHS WORKSHOP. Number CD-Rom for Windows and Macintosh. Minimum requirements: Windows 9598NT 16 MB RAM. Power Macintosh 16 MB RAM. pound;49 (excluding VAT) for single user licence.

Paul Harrison on a CD Rom that helps progress through number work.

The 82 activities on this CD-Rom cover the objectives in the numbers and number system strand of the national numeracy framework for each of Years 3 to 6.

Navigating the program is simple - a click on a topic in the opening menu produces a range of related objectives for the four years and a click on an objective produces an activity.

The quality of presentation of the activities is excellent, with encouraging aural and humorously animated responses to answers. Children will find most of the activities motivating and challenging, although there are several which are fairly tedious - but this is unavoidable given some of the narrower framework objectives.

Progression is provided by having each activity at four levels, with the computer deciding - questionably sometimes - when a level has been achieved. Hwever, the facility for moving on to the next level can be toggled on or off by the teacher. Once through the fourlevels, where appropriate, the child can progress to an activity related to the same objective for the succeeding year.

An automatic, instantly accessible and printable recording system enables the teacher to keep tabs on the progress of individuals and groups.

There are a couple of minor weakspots: with some activities requiring "yes" or "no" answers, it is possible for a child to achieve a level purely by chance; and in some activities where the computer randomly generates numbers, the same question can arise several times in succession. But don't let that put you off what is, otherwise, a well thought-out and effective numeracy resource.

Paul Harrison is a former primary head who writes maths books

Pearson Education Limited and BBC Worldwide Limited

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