Added value

14th May 2004 at 01:00
Peter Ransom evaluates the latest resources designed to enhance secondary maths

Mathsinsight 13 nfer-Nelson teacher guide with network CD-Rom, Copymaster resource, pound;50


Statistical Spreadsheet Add-inMichael Tweedie, pound;31.50 (includes p+p)MTS, 6 Whiteside, Newtownards, BT234UP, Northern Ireland Email:

30 Calculator Programs By Alan Graham and Barrie GalpinA+B Books, pound;31.50 (includes p+p)

MicroSmile Properties of Number Smile Mathematics CD-Rom (licence pound;45+ VAT for a single-user; pound;180 for 50+ users)

Getting the Buggers to Add Up By Mike Ollerton, Continuum, pound;12.99

Numbers: Facts, Figures amp; Fiction By Richard Phillips, Badsey Press, pound;12

Mathsinsight 13 was the first item I picked to review as I was looking for something to stimulate high attainers in key stage 3. I was delighted with the variety and quality of these materials.

The many exciting questions can be tackled on paper or on the computer.

There are five types of problems, all of which enrich rather than accelerate u starters (short warm-up questions), write a question (pupils can vary the question to explore similar ones), explorations (investigative problems), finding other answers (multiple answers) and How did you do it?

(pupils have to explain their reasoning).

Statistical Spreadsheet Add-in from Michael Tweedie, an advisory officer for maths in Northern Ireland, is absolute magic. It acts as an add on to Excel's Chart Wizard to help pupils draw diagrams, histograms, frequency polygons and bar or pie charts. It loaded first time and the instructions worked like a dream. I had a great time looking at stem and leaf diagrams (with the necessary key) and my histograms were correctly labelled with "frequency density". This add-on was developed to help GCSE pupils with data-handling coursework and it certainly does that. It takes the grind out of drawing diagrams and gives pupils time to interpret, contrast and compare their diagrams. At pound;31.50 for a full site licence there can be fewer better bargains around.

30 Calculator Programs from A+B Books is the latest addition to their Calculator Maths series, based on the TI-83 series of graphing calculator. I have used this resource with high attainers in KS34 and found it particularly useful in helping them understand the concept of a variable.

It provides plenty of enrichment material and the resulting programs could be used with middle and low attainers. There are 30 modules, each based on a short program. It helps pupils develop modelling and problem-solving skills as well as being motivational by providing a large fun factor. It is well worth obtaining a copy u try a few activities yourself so that you appreciate the richness of this imaginative resource.

Properties of Number features six programs which focus on exploring sequences of positive integers, from NC levels 3 to 7. It took no time at all to understand what had to be done and I found the Factor Challenge intriguing. I would use this with pairs of pupils working together since the hands-on approach is part of the attraction. I can envisage it being used for stimulation and practice in primary schools as well as to help lower attainers at level 3 or challenge high achievers in secondary school. It comes with full teachers' notes. Rather expensive for a single-user licence but well worth investing eLearning credits for the 50+ licence.

The title Getting the Buggers to Add intrigued me. It was a very interesting read with plenty of ideas for use in the mathematics classroom. The book is in four main sections, starting with the nature of mathematics and why anyone should wish to learn it. The next section, on contexts and ideas for the classroom, I found most interesting.

It reminded me of some rich activities as well as giving me some new ideas.

Section 3 deals with the wider issues and in the final section Mike Ollerton flies a few kites and invites readers to consider doing some things differently.

This book is excellent value and of interest to the NQT as well as the experienced teacher. Get it, read it and put it into practice.

Numbers: Facts, Figures amp; Fiction is a revised edition of the 1994 work.

Well worth the pound;12 - get a copy for the faculty as well as the school library since it is bound to be a popular loan once pupils recognise the worth of this 128-page A4 paperback, which is well illustrated with colour on every page.

Peter Ransom is leading mathematics teacher at the Mountbatten School and Language College in Romsey in Hampshire

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