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Publishers miss chance to multiply interest

The exhibition at the Association for Teachers of Mathematics conference in Lancaster last month was surprisingly small - more publishers should take the opportunity to display their wares before an interested group of maths educators.

But there were some eye-catching new publications: New Cambridge Mathematics, for example, is a set of resources providing three infant level modules which link directly with the existing four junior modules of Cambridge Primary Mathematics. Also on the Cambridge stand, but at secondary level, I saw much interest in Ruth Eagle's new book, Exploring Maths Through History.

Ginn's new primary maths scheme, Abacus, also left me wanting to examine it more closely.

Letts Educational announced a new GCSE textbook. This publisher is best known for its revision guides, so this is a new departure. The authors are Mary Rouncefield and Peter Sherran; knowing some of the previous work of Mary Rouncefield, I look forward to seeing this publication.

Computer software and calculators were poorly represented. Only Texas had a full display, giving information about all the company's calculators currently available. This included the new TI-92, which provides several features: a symbol manipulator for simplifying algebraic expressions; a dynamic geometry tool for geometric construction and transformation; three-dimensional graph plotting; and a split-screen allowing more than one representation to be viewed at a time.

The only computer software demonstrated in the main exhibition was Autograph, a powerful graphing package running on Acorn Archimedes computers, and providing a wide range of classroom applications. The Archimedes computer can display on a large television screen, and so can easily be used as an "electronic blackboard" for whole-class teaching. It also provides an interactive environment in which pupils can work independently. Autograph is well-suited to both ways of working.

Finally, I was pleased to find a display promoting Perfect Times, a game to develop confidence in multiplication facts. This game, devised by Wendy Fortescue-Hubbard, was featured in The TES last year, and I was keen to try it for myself.

The idea is surprisingly simple, but it will be engaging and motivating for learners of all ages. Although it is so simple that some teachers might be tempted to make their own version of it, Southgate publishers have produced an effective package.

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