Machine to stretch the brain;Secondary;Reviews;Mathematics;Books

12th March 1999 at 00:00
CALCULATOR MATHS. By Alan Graham and Barrie Galpin. Foundations. Number. Algebra. Shape. Handling Data. A+B Books, 15 Top Lodge, Fineshade, near Corby NN17 3BB. Tel: 01780 444360. pound;8.95 each or pound;33.50 for the series.

If you have not yet seen what a graphical calculator can do, then this might be a good way to learn.

Calculator Maths is aimed at key stages 3 and 4, and is written specifically for use with a Texas Instruments graphical calculator. The books have been written using the TI-80 calculator - a machine for the GCSE market - but anyone using the more powerful TI-83 or TI-82 could also use this material as the keys are mostly consistent. The series is intended to supplement the regular scheme used in a class, but it could also support students working independently.

The Foundations book provides an introduction to the skills of using the graphical calculator. There are some practice exercises and a useful reference section where you can look up how to do things as you need them.

Activities in the later books use the calculator to develop mathematical understanding. Students are encouraged to understand as well as to use the functions of the calculator. In many activities, the students are asked to reproduce a given screen display. The activities are presented in self-contained units, and worked solutions and discussion are provided at the end of each book. Most units also contain some more challenging brain stretchers, which will make you think, and discussion points, which provide a focus for reflection.

An impressive amount of care has been taken to support the student working alone. The material is not a complete GCSE course, but it could provide an interesting supplement for someone who wants to revise some key ideas in key stages 3 and 4. For example, there is a good match with the mathematics syllabus for students in primary initial teacher training.

Peter Johnston-Wilder is a senior lecturer in mathematics education at De Montfort University, Bedford

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