Guides to the world we live in

29th April 2005 at 01:00
Ian Selmes reviews key stage 3 textbooks

Geography 360x By Anne Bowen and John Pallister Core Book 1, pound;9.50 Foundation Book 1, pound;9.50 Interactive Presentation CD-Rom 1, pound;18.99 Heinemann

Horizons By David Garner, Roger Knill and John Smith Pupil Book 1, pound;9.95 Teaching and Learning Resources with planning CD- Rom, pound;9.95

Electronic Resources, pound;240-pound;300 according to school size Nelson Thornes

The format of the day for new key stage 3 textbooks is differentiation for both foundation and core and for the content to be linked to CD-Rom or associated websites.

In Geography 360x, the classic double-page spread for each exercise is maintained and every aid is provided for teacher and learner. There are boxed key words, important subject language is highlighted in bold and paragraphs are brief.

Original, pertinent and clear photographs adorn each page without causing clutter. Some are linked to Ordnance Survey and other maps, some to diagrams or models. None are garish. Each spread has a skills box in which instructions for, say, drawing a graph or sketch map are set out in numbered steps to follow. For more complex skills the reader is referred to the final chapter where the steps are shown in sequence illustrated with diagrams. Each spread has an activities section where tasks are clearly itemised. Finally, at the end of each chapter there is an assessment page, testing the knowledge from the preceding pages.

The interactive CD-Rom provides some flexibility, enabling the key photosdiagrams etc to be seen on screen either collectively through a data projector or on individual monitors. Pupils may be asked to make decisions or merely complete sentences electronically rather than on paper. Full instructions are contained on the teacher's guide both on the CD-Rom and in the hardcopy file that accompanies the disc.

Differentiation between the core and foundation books is neatly disguised.

In each book, the chapters and double page spreads have the same title and begin on the same page numbers. The photographs and diagrams are common to both texts. Many of the exercises and assessment tasks are the same. The difference comes in the size of print, the content of the paragraphs and the complexity of the instructions or questions.

For the specialist geography teacher and the non specialist alike, this series provides all that might be needed to cover the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority's schemes of work for KS3. But whether learning geography becomes repetitive or thought provoking depends on the teacher feeling able to go beyond the tightly structured text and guide. The series is also designed to stretch pupils only to level 5 in the core book.

Nelson Thornes has come up with a similar solution to KS3 geography with Horizons. The three years of text start with the recently published book 1.

The double-page spread with photos, diagrams and maps linked to text with highlighted key words predominates. Tasks are organised in the Over To You panels. However the colour is brighter and the diagram annotation livelier, using text bubbles.

There is no in-built differentiation, other than that the teacher may decide to insert. There are however, laminated aerial photos and maps attached to the book covers. Web-links through the dedicated publisher's site are spread liberally through the pages.

The Teaching and Learning Resources includes a series of photocopiable worksheets, together with useful assessments with levelled mark schemes.

There are also unit and lesson plans as hardcopy and on the CD-Rom. What makes this series different is the Electronic Resource CD-Rom. Under the Just Click logo, pupils may access a networked version of the pupil book, with interactive investigations, animations and simple presentation tasks to enliven learning.

In the Teacher section there are lesson plans but also a facility to customise teaching and learning by adding further resources to suit an individual's needs. This series will take more effort to employ and so may be more suited to the specialist teacher, although the textbook could stand alone quite happily.

Ian Selmes teaches geography at Oakham school, Rutland

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