Keep pupils posted

16th May 2003 at 01:00
Letts KS3 Maths Visual Literacy Pack. By Roy Blatchford and Tim Mason. Letts pound;25 Tel: 020 8996 333. Email:

This pack consists of 25 full-colour posters, together with a teacher's book giving practical ideas for maths-focused literacy work on each poster, as well as ideas for additional literacy activities.

The A1 posters are bright and clear, each focusing on an area of the key stage 3 strategy, for example, properties of numbers, sequences and functions, 2-D shapes, transformations, probability.

The "command vocabulary" is highlighted in a context, with common alternatives given, for example, "slope" or "gradient". The posters are clearly designed for reference while learning or revising a topic, and are easy to refer to.

For the most part, the posters are sound in content, although I have difficulty with the idea of a "recurring fraction". However there are some small areas where common classroom misconceptions or difficulties might easily have been corrected: for example, the "Graphs" poster exhibits gradients of 2, - 2 and 0.5 but doesn't label them; "Representing Data" does not mark the axes with appropriate units; the "Number System" shows no irrationals; "Transformations" stops short of showing what is needed to define each; and "Angles" draws and labels two of the angle relationships with parallel lines (though not the third), but doesn't indicate what those angles might be. These ideas are not part of the labelled keywords requirements, but are intrinsic to a full mathematical literacy, so my posters sport Blu-Tacked addenda as the topics develop. Many would be particularly suitable for KS3 or KS4 revision.

The accompanying teacher's pack consists of a superb small section on Literacy Learning Tips which address literacy issues not always obvious to maths teachers, two graduated fully-photocopiable worksheets for each poster, and a number of additional literacy-based activities. The worksheets are excellent, although even the easier of each would be very demanding for those students who struggle with literacy. Many introduce a wide range of contexts for the ideas in question, and incorporate further activities suitable for homework or for research.

The extended activities at the end of the book use substantial pieces of prose or poetry as a stimulus for quantitative or ordered thinking.

Overall, a practical resource for both teacher and student, and excellent value for money.

Jennie Golding is an AST based at Ranelagh School, Bracknell Forest

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