In for the count

3rd January 2003 at 00:00
Ian Wilson previews the forthcoming maths releases and discovers that using the new generation of hi-tech products adds up

It is a sign of how technology in schools has changed that much of the interesting new material to look out for in 2003 is available online or is linked to online products.

At key stage 2, BBC Learning is completely relaunching ReviseWise (from pound;9.99), which offers a complete package for SATs revision through TV, the internet, books, video and CD-Rom. The site is attractive and easy to use and its activities are well thought out. Espresso Education will be introducing new resources for the same age group, including Real Life Maths (approx. pound;6 per pupil), which encourages pupils to complete problem-solving activities using video clips that explore concepts such as area, measure and time through everyday situations.

BBC rival 4Learning, from Channel 4, has produced two new CD-Roms, based on the television series Puzzle Maths. The first CD is for ages seven to nine and the second for ages nine to 11 (pound;29.38 each). Both include clips from the TV series showing how to solve maths problems. Children are then challenged to apply these methods to maths games and can win awards in the form of gold, silver or bronze carrots. A progress report shows how many times children have played a game, the awards they received and the level they have reached. Can Do Maths, from Nelson Thornes (pound;45) is a new series of three CDs for each year at key stage 2. It includes a pupil management system which enables the teacher to differentiate the levels of work set.

Moving to secondary level, Smile Mathematics has two welcome additions to its useful and reasonably priced range - Investigations (single user pound;30) and Symmetry and Transformations (single user pound;50). Investigations contains four programs to develop problem-solving and thinking skills, including the interesting problem of Trellis, which requires users to find the mathematical pattern created when wires are threaded through holes in a rectangular frame. Symmetry and Transformations has seven programs to enable students to explore dynamic geometry. Several deal with symmetry and tiling at levels 3-5 higher, another, Centre Point, requires students to identify centres of rotation.

Teachers who want to cut the amount of time spent planning and record-keeping (and isn't that all of us?) should take a look at the new Maths Complete Professional, part of the new Key Stage 3 Professional series from The Skills Factory. This planning software is aimed at heads of departments and should be well worth a look.

As its name suggests, Online Success is a website which provides revision materials online. It has been developed by Letts from its well-known Success Guides books and will be available for home subscription as well for schools (from pound;195). The first materials will be limited to key stage 3, but GCSE courses are planned for later in the year.

Another online offering comes from SAM Learning, which provides learning courses for SATs, GCSEs and A-levels (from pound;399 a year). The maths content is well laid out and the exercises are carefully graded, although some are rather undemanding.

4Learning has extended the concept of its Homework High website to the 16-19 age group. This site, on a subscription basis (single user pound;25), will offer links to the most useful websites for 20 different subjects, including mathematics. Advanced level students will also benefit from Interactive Physics from Fable Multimedia (from pound;95 for single user), which tackles ASA-level maths mechanics modules. This package of CD-Roms and a book contains 72 models that illustrate concepts such as motion-time graphs, momentum, impulse and simple harmonic motion. It also contains a modelling program and a tutorial to help you build your own models. Better still, it is easy to use - a variety of objects such as springs, ropes, forces and pulleys are available and you can alter friction, gravity and elasticity. It is one of the most useful programs for advanced mathematics teaching I have seen for some time.

Ian Wilson is headteacher at Rydens School, Walton-on-Thames

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