Sound forces at work

Jackie Hardie

Spotlight Science 9, By Keith Johnson, Sue Adamson and Gareth Williams, Pupil's Book Pounds 7.50. - 0 7487 1564 9.

Teacher's Guide Pounds 64.50. - 0 7487 1565 7.

Course guide free on request - 0 7487 2205 5. Stanley Thornes.

Spotlight Science 9 is the third book in the series launched two years ago for pupils in key stage 3. Those teachers who invested in the Year 7 book at that time will be pleased and relieved that the Year 9 materials - pupil's book and teacher's guide - are both available for the start of the academic year at the time when their pupils have progressed through the scheme to its third year.

The resources are in the same format as before and have been produced to match the revised National Curriculum Orders. This continuity is reinforced by the structure of the Teacher's Guide and the fact that the number of the first chapter in both the guide and the pupil's book is 25.

The design of the pupil's book will be familiar with its structured chapters of colour coded double page spreads and mix of colour photographs, lively cartoons, clear apparatus drawings and varied activities. There's certainly a lot to occupy pupils on any one spread and only the very ablest is likely to complete the work in one standard science lesson.

For Years 7 and 8, the authors designed books containing 66 chapters and assumed two lessons of one hour in each week, in other words enough material in each book for 33 weeks of lessons. In their Year 9 book, there are 67 "lessons" and as they assume an increase in teaching time allocated to science (in line with DFEE guidance), that, they claim represents 22 teaching weeks (ie enough material to teach year 9 until just after Easter). Thus the scheme is designed so pupils and teachers have plenty of time to prepare and revise for the SATs. But this leaves open the questions of planning work for the second half of the term and gearing the teaching of the year group to external tests. With SATs in mind, the Teacher's Guide contains a useful page on revision resources where the authors point out that the scheme as a whole contains 35 revision quizzes which could be reproduced and stapled together to form revision booklets. A very useful supplementary resource indeed.

The 11 topics covered may be used in any order, but the authors recommend that, within any one, the chapters should be followed in sequence. Even though many schools have one science teacher for classes following integrated or combined courses, others may divide their year 9 according to the specialisms. It is possible to use Spotlight 9 in this way, with easily identified topics. For example, the topics Energy, Sight and Sound, Electricity and Magnetism, Forces, Earth and beyond obviously belong to physics.

The Teacher's Guide is thorough with advice and information organised in the same chapter sequence as the pupil's book; there are details of ways to introduce a lesson, safety notes (including references to CLEAPSS HAZCARDS), extension work and support ideas to cater for both extremes of the ability spectrum, answers to questions and copiable pupil help sheets. Technicians and teachers alike will welcome the cut out technician cards at the end of the guide - with apparatus and reagent details for each lesson and spaces for technicians to record supplementary information relevant to a particular school.

There are also notes on assessment and an interesting section with prototypes - on the award of bronze, silver and gold science achievement certificates. All in all, an outstanding third part of an excellent series.

Jackie Hardie is deputy head of The Latymer School, Enfield.

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