A little bit of flair;Secondary;Reviews;Books

15th October 1999 at 01:00
Measures at Key Stage 2: core materials for teaching and assessing measures By Fran Mosley with Diana Cobdenand Ezra Blondel BEAM pound;16.50 Where's the mathematics in measurement? This question has been asked before, suggesting that much of what goes on in schools under the general heading of measurement is not particularly rigorous. You will have noticed, for example, the tendency for children engaged in standard "estimate, then measure" lessons to make their estimates only after they have measured.

Children don't like to be "wrong" in maths, and often regard estimation as trivial and pointless.

One of the problems for teachers has always been finding structure and progression to link the many diverse forms of measurement we are expected to teach. Beam's latest offering, a companion to the enormously successful Number Volumes at Key Stages 1 and 2, provides one with economy and flair.

As we have come to expect from Beam, it is immediately useful and user-friendly, authoritative without ever being pedantic or patronising. You can just pick up this book and start using one of the many good activities. Later, though, go back to the beginning to digest the introductory section and the double-page spread giving an overview of the measures.

The structure is such that using activities from each section helps children develop through learning about standard units, getting a feel for them, increasing accuracy, representing measures and on to investigating relationships between them.

The emphasis is heavily on the process of using measures but there is a lot of theory impeccably embodied within the activities.

The last two chapters allow for some creativity in using measures to solve problems, such as devising measuring systems. Try asking your children: can everything be measured? Is there anything that cannot be measured? The book has suggestions for measuring handwriting, windiness and noise among others. Well, is there anything that can't be measured in some way? Fear? Love? What do you think? While pondering this, order the book.

Laurie Rousham teaches a Y4 class at Broke Hall school in Ipswich, Suffolk

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