Software collection a gem for teachers

WORKSHEET GENERATOR By CTAD. CD-Rom for IBM and compatible computers (386 or above with 4 megabytes of memory, a mouse, CD-Rom drive and VGA 256-colour video card), Pounds 25, The Basic Skills Agency, Commonwealth House, 1-19 New Oxford Street, London WC1A 1NU. Tel: 0171 405 4017

If you only buy one piece of software this year, make it Worksheet Generator from CTAD. It is a CD-Rom for the PC which contains 250 worksheets to improve the basic skills of students and school pupils.

These are referenced in all sorts of cunning ways so you can find what you need. First choose your selection criteria: reading text, reading graphics, reference material, filling forms, formal writing and informal writing. These criteria correspond closely to the Wordpower certificate.

Next check the subject areas which include hotel and catering, motor vehicle and childcare, as well as traditional school curriculum areas such as English, geography and science. Most of the worksheets have also been indexed under themes such as environment, job-search skills or numeracy, so if you want to find a writing activity for business admin or hotel work, you have a choice of 17 activities ranging from sending a fax to writing a letter confirming a gig or formal letter of complaint.

You can edit all the existing sheets to make them more relevant for your students or to provide a differentiated range of materials on the same topic to cater for all abilities.

It's easy to change the fonts, sizes and styles to make the text more suitable for students with sight problems or dyslexia. A handy template lets you make your own materials, bringing in photographs from a Photo CD or from a scanner or graphics package which produces bitmap files.

You can also use any of the 120 or so photographs and diagrams provided. These include pictures of work environments, rural scenes and charts covering the development of tooth decay and the destruction of rainforest.

Tools help you turn figures into charts, graphs and tables, and a set of text tools removes punctuation and capital letters from text or creates cloze passages to assess comprehension or spelling skills.

The on-screen tutorial is a model of its kind. I made a handout on Agatha Christie's novel At Bertram's Hotel in about five minutes, which included three minutes deciding on a photo. Only very picky teachers could not find materials to motivate students in this collection.

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