Nick Austin of TEEM looks at software for mathematics.
Teachers will be both pleased and frustrated by the range of CD-ROMs dedicated to maths - pleased because there is so much on offer and frustrated because the sheer range can create as many problems as it solves.
Evaluators from Teachers Evaluating Educational Multimedia have been busy over the past two years trying out maths software with their classes and report that there are many valuable materials that will make a real difference when introducing new concepts to children.
For infant teachers, Sherston's 123-CD (pound;31.95 excl VAT) has much to offer. Children find it easy to use, intuitive and stimulating; teachers value its practical support for counting and early number work. The activities can be attempted without supervision and the design is such that children won't get lost in the program. The support materials are also praised by TEEM evaluators.
For children working on tens and units, The Production Tree's Jojo in Numberland (single user, pound;59.99 + pamp;p) offers a wide selection of activities for a variety of interests and needs of infant children. Animated characters, music, visuals and sound effects make this a popular and effective piece of software. Again, the supporting teachers' documentation proves a reliable and useful resource.
Two very different programs for junior pupils are Toplogika's Maths Book Pack 1 (+ - ) (single user pound;49.95; 5-user pound;74.95; 10-user pound;99.90) and Knowsley Wood by Inclusive Technology (single user pound;39; 5-user pack pound;79; network pound;129). The former is a simple, no-frills program that enables children to work through a series of additions and subtractions at an appropriate level and to a set time limit, with printouts of what they achieve during each session. Although deliberately limited in scope, children find it a helpful easy-to-use resource, with immediate feedback when mistakes occur. Knowsley Wood offers addition, subtraction, multiplication and division, fractions, decimals and percentages at three different levels that roughly correspond to levels 3, 4 and 5 of the National Curriculum. As a supporting and consolidating tool for the number strand of the numeracy framework, this is a very effective package. Children find it motivating and enjoyable, and there is evidence of some using it by choice in their free time.
Finally, Sherston's Crystal Rain Forest 2000 (single user pound;59.95; 10-user pound;179.85; 20-user pound;239.80) offers support with spoken instructions for weaker readers. This is a good resource to use as an introduction to Logo and one that children find stimulating and motivating.
Full evaluations and case studies of all of these packages, different curriculum areas and more can be found at www.teem.org.uk