Making the right impression

6th January 2006 at 00:00
Arhythmetic audio CD (14 tracks) Project Manager Philmore S Hutchins III $22.99 at

Integrating ICT into the mathematics classroom Edited by Julie-Ann Edwards and David Wright pound;20

Display Tools On Line (DTOL) Stephen Jones CD-Rom pound;10.50 (inc. p+p) Annual subscription to tools pound;25

"Very impressive" was my first thought after just a few seconds listening to Arhythmetic. By the time it had finished I could not wait to let my colleagues hear it and use it in the classroom. If you try only one new thing this year, try this - it will make your pupils sit up and listen!

The USteam that produced this CD have got it just right. With the auditory sense offering the most direct route to the brain, it should have a big impact on all those pupils who have problems with their tables, and higher-attaining pupils will enjoy the maths mentioned in the lyrics.

References to applications of maths in science, technology, nutrition and everyday life abound. It was designed to demonstrate a world-view of maths and to bridge the gap between children and their alienated emotions and intimidations to maths. The information provided mentions that this is a unique opportunity that integrates maths, positive thinking and healthier food choices.

On the downside, the "lesson descriptions" describe the songs, but there is no mention about how to use the CD within a lesson. I can see it being used as a starter, possibly having pupils singing along when they know the words (having the lyrics would help).Getting pupils to write and perform their own rap would be a suitable cross-curricular activity with the music department. With the concerns over citizenship, diet and exercise here in the UK, this CD should be on every mathematician's menu.

A free copy of Integrating ICT into the mathematics classroom has been sent to every secondary school in England thanks to funding by the DfES. This book and CD-Rom offer a selection of some of the contributions to Micromath over the past five years of its 21-year existence.The CD-Rom contains a range of resources, including a Micromath archive, maths gallery photos, files of Association of Teachers of Mathematics (ATM) resources (such as active geometry and interactive mathematics), graphing calculator resources, Becta documents, and a set of research bibliographies.

The ATM has produced a great CD-Rom that I hope will be used by every secondary school. The photographs in the maths gallery are intended as a resource for teaching maths and the pictures can be used in many different ways. The pictures are grouped into six categories: U-shaped curves, straight lines gradients, waves other curves, wheels, chocolate and medley. The graphing calculator section contains a wealth of resources from Casio, Sharp and Texas Instruments - with these alone one can more than fulfil the requirements of ICT. The other sections of the CD-Rom include Furbles, which is a random population generator, designed for use on interactive whiteboards to motivate thought about statistical representations of populations and links between probability and statistics.

Although this is still in a development stage I felt it showed great promise and look forward to seeing the finished software. The book is a fantastic read with full colour to enhance the teaching and learning of mathematics through the use of ICT.

My initial reaction to the CD-Rom My Panjandrums (part of Display Tools On Line (DTOL)) was not favourable. I found the notes for teachers document hard to follow, although the website offered more illumination. The idea appears to be that the teacher and pupil build a mathematical model in Excel spreadsheet format on a subject of their choice. This engages the pupils in "a mathsscience project which will have a functional outcome, ie a product (tool), thereby engaging them fully in the subject to be taught".

This is then modelled by DTOL in Flash format, in PDF and as PowerPoint presentations, and subscribers can download any of the tools in the library for free distribution to pupils.

I could see myself using a few of the PowerPoint files after modification - there are niggling errors and the potential for improvement. Involving teachers in the development of this work should help enhance the tools.

The tools on the CD-Rom are user-friendly and you might find some of them useful in your classroom. The topics covered are: trigonometry - measuring triangles; speed, distance and time; decimal to binary and back; electricals 1 - volts, amps, watts Ohm's law; Pythagoras; smoking; temperature conversions F to C to F; a small business modelling tool and a cost-benefit analysis tool.

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