Interactive resources

10th January 2003 at 00:00
MATHSTRAKS. By Lesley Higgin. pound;45 plus VAT from Solomon Press. Tel: 01225 775078

This is a CD-Rom of worksheets (five sets of starters, 78 lots of games and exercises) meant to complement existing resources and programmes of study. It is aimed at key stage 3 and covers much of the lower levels well, though for middle and higher attaining pupils in Year 9 there is not so much work.

I liked the activities as there was a good blend of interesting tasks. On closer inspection, though, I started to have reservations. There are mistakes in the descriptions. For example one description of sheet N3 says "Multiplying integers by multiples of 10, 100, 1000" yet there's nothing about multiples on the sheet. The contents sheets have the correct description.

On sheet HD 5 using averages, the pupil is asked to work out the mean, mode and median for a frequency table, then decide what average is the best to use. It does not, however, describe the situation for a pupil to make a valid choice. For example, if I am a manager of a factory trying to attract new staff I would be inclined to quote the highest average. On the other hand if I were a union representative arguing for a pay rise I'd go for the lowest average to argue for a pay increase. The materials could have done with a good mathematical proof reader.

I could find no reason why these sheets were provided on CD-Rom rather than as printed worksheets. The materials are not interactive and I would much prefer to have hard copy so I can see at a glance what worksheets are there. To get a better idea of what is provided I at first printed out all the sheets, a task that took some time.

Design and overall look is good. Value for money? Just about, but be prepared to listen to pupils' alternative answers - they may well also be correct.

Peter Ransom is a Hampshire leading mathematics teacher at The Mountbatten School and Language College

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