A welcome kick in the maths curriculum

31st March 1995 at 01:00
MATHEMATICS MSM series STUDENTS' BOOK 5W Pounds 6.50. 0 17438488 2. TEACHERS' RESOURCE BOOK 5W Pounds 29.99. 0 17 438489 0 By Jim Miller, Graham Newman and Maralyn Procter.

STUDENTS' BOOK 5Y By Mike Kenwood and Geoff Staley Pounds 6.50. 0 17 438481 5. TEACHER'S RESOURCE BOOK 5Y By Ron Bull, Mike Kenwood, Graham Newan and Geoff Staley Pounds 29.99. 0 17 438482 3 Thomas Nelson

These books are part of a series that has been written specifically for the national curriculum. Teachers who wish to replace or augment their current courses following the Dearing review should consider these texts.

MSM 5W is targeted at foundation level GCSE and covers national curriculum levels 3 to 6. MSM 5Y is targeted at higher level GCSE and covers national curriculum levels 8 to 10. At foundation level, content is rooted in an everyday context, answering the much-quoted "What is the point of this?" with relevant practical tasks such as personal finance, hobbies and household finance. Many will find mathematics alive and kicking where they least expect it! Higher students will find much to enjoy and extend their knowledge in book 5Y. It was pleasing to note the balance between exposition, copious exercises and investigations.

As mathematics teachers are aware, the use of investigations not merely as ends in themselves but as vehicles for work in number, algebra, etc, has a high profile. This cannot be underestimated and their inclusion as an integral part of a published text is laudable. Even though many of the investigations included are quite structured, their inclusion formalises the necessity for this approach to mathematics.

This course possesses the most thorough and useful Teacher Resource guides that I have seen, and it is here that the course sells itself most strongly to teachers. Both guides highlight how and when the national curriculum is covered, in an easily accessible form. Assessments are provided in a photocopiable, easily read format with clear instructions and space for answers and working.

Both books have two types of assessment, defined as type C and type D. Type C is a formal assessment based directly on the content of the chapters and type D is investigative and hence more open ended in approach. In book 5Y at a higher level we can compare, for example, assessment C5 testing basic trigonometric skills, followed by assessment D5, an investigation into the graphs of trigonometric functions. The topic, like all the others, is therefore presented in both open and structured styles, encouraging variety in teaching and learning.

It is good to see a series of books that promotes an investigative approach across the maths curriculum. Detailed mark schemes are provided for all assessments along with outlines of record sheets for each book. One drawback of the heavy referencing to the national curriculum is that since the books were written we can now say "and then there were four", as another attainment target has been shed due to the combining of number and algebra at this level. This may put some people off as MSM has already been overtaken by the latest revision of the national curriculum, but it is still an excellent resource. Perhaps after the next revision, the books might include an index.

David Monks is head of mathematics at Hampstead School, North London.

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