Make progress in a fraction of the time

Andy Lambert

FRACTION ATTRACTION. Maths software for Macintosh and Windows computers. Floppy discs Pounds 39.95; CD-Rom Pounds 49.95; five-user licence for floppy discs, Pounds 69.95; five-user licence for CD-Rom, Pounds 79.95. TAG Developments 25 Pelham Road, Gravesend, Kent DA11 0HU Tel: 0800 591262.

There are four "games" in Fraction Attraction. Frac Track gets you ordering fractions, decimals or percentages on four horses. The larger the percentage, the faster the horse. You can set the race to have all fractions or decimals or percentages, or a mixture of all three. If you get it wrong you can review the race and find out why.

Frac O'Wheel is a fairground big wheel ride where you have to unload people one at a time. You have to work out what fraction the wheel has to pass through (anti-clockwise or clockwise) to offload the occupants successfully. The pupil can be set working on the denominator, numerator or a random selection of both.

Fuzzy Frac has you throwing a ball at a character (rather like a coconut shy) that has a fraction on it. On screen there can be several of these beasts and what the pupil has to do is order them from the largest to the smallest or vice versa. This may sound simple but, when set at its hardest level, you can get 18 of them with values like 0.286, 1220, three-sixths and 62.5 per cent that you have to work out.

The last game is called Whack a Frac. A target is set on screen of, let's say, 12. Depending on the level of the game, a number of moles pop up with different values on them, for example 37. The mole is holding up Yes and No banners which you have to select appropriately.

At each juncture you can access a help screen for more information and a review screen pops up if you do anything wrong. The program does not track pupils, so you cannot work out if anyone is really all at sea. The program's strength is in giving pupils access to fractions, decimals and percentages in a variety of ways. The good old teacher will have had to do the groundwork.

The program's in-built differentiation, timed games and timed presentation of answers enables pupils to appreciate ordering and relative size in a fun way.

Seeing fractions on a number line, having multiple representations put to them, encountering equivalence are all parts of a program that goes a long way in establishing what for some is a difficult concept.

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