Anyone seeking a change from the books that dominate secondary maths teaching will welcome these publications. Maths Now! has three strands, with Red and Blue books or orbits corresponding to the three tiers of the GCSE, and the Green Orbit aimed at pupils with special needs.
The books are attractive, with excellent colour photographs. The RedBlue book has an interesting start that challenges students to think about the ways maths is used. It includes historical and contemporary references and the style is accessible without being patronising.
The book's main use will be for whole-class teaching. Differentiation is achieved through outcome, using tests of increasing difficulty. Supplementary material is provided in the teacher's resource file.
The teacher's file for the Green Orbit contains good suggestions for teaching pupils with special needs, as well as a wealth of supplementary worksheets. The book is intended for pupils at level 2 of the national curriculum. A "placement test" helps teachers decide what a pupil needs to cover.
Icons tell pupils when to work with others, when to ask for help and when to collect apparatus. There are also many activities such as number bingo and races against time that help pupils choose the correct operations. A system of points for mastering vocabulary, doing well in the tests, presentation of work and mastery of skills is included, and this could be tied into the school's reward system.
Summit Maths is also aimed at pupils below level 3, and the writers have taken care with the language and approach to topics. Multiplication is introduced via calculating the numbers of arms and eyes of friendly aliens, and there are good sections on shape and space. The work on decimals is less satisfactory, and the introduction to algebra progresses too quickly. On the other hand, two excellent "Work-outs" provide extended activities that allow pupils to practise the material in previous chapters.
Ian Wilson is head of Woodcote High School, Croydon, Surrey