7th January 2000 at 00:00
In mathematics, many publishers are bringing out materials for the primary sector. This is not surprising with the introduction of the numeracy hour, and many primary teachers will be looking for software which will help make the subject come alive. The range of software is wide but, as usual, some careful selection is needed to make sure you do not end up with illustrated drill exercises or worse. Easy Peasy (pound;31.50 single-user) at first sight might look as if it falls into this category but it has an original approach to animating the four rules and I particularly liked the friendly ghost who steps in with advice if you make a mistake.

The offerings from Granada in its Maths Explorer series have been of a high standard and the latest addition looks good too. Data Handling (pound;49) is set in the ancient civilisations of Rome, the Incas and Egypt. Activities covered include probability, pie charts and scattergrams as well as collecting data. Two-Can, publisher of the excellent Interfact series, has recently launched a new series called Mega-Bytes. Number Crunch (pound;9.99) contains puzzles, quizzes and games with a number theme.

Logotron has three new packages concerned with number. For basic but imaginatively presented work, Numbertime 11-20 (pound;27) has some interesting activities for young pupils, covering number patterns, sequences and place value. The CD-Rom has attractive and colourful animations, with sound which can be switched on to explain what to do. Also from Logotron is BBC Maths Workshop Number (pound;49). This comprises 82 activities for Years 7 to 11 and has been specifically designed for teachers to help them in their planning and assessment of the daily mathematics lesson. The software is designed to record every level of each activity that the pupil completes. The tasks are varied and attractive and should motivate most pupils. Other titles in this series cover calculation and measurement.

Megamaths Tables (pound;39), designed to be used in conjunction with the BBC broadcasts of the same name. The disc contains a collection of activities based around the theme of a castle where pupils have to collect keys to its rooms by completing the task and then answering a speed est in the dungeon. It is not always very obvious how to complete the tasks from the information given on the screen or by sound so pupils (and teachers!) will need to use the worksheets provided in the accompanying book.

Another package which should help teachers in their planning of the numeracy hour comes from The Skills Factory. Numeracy Complete (pound;49 single licence) contains a database of all the numeracy framework objectives and you use this in conjunction with pupil information to create weekly, termly or year plans.

I would suggest that you also look out for more general, utility programs which will be of use in the mathematics classroom. Among them, Black Cat, previous award winner for its data-handling packages, is offering a new version, Information Workshop 2000 (pound;95 for five-user licence) which provides many facilities for more advanced work. Fathom, from QED, is a statistics package which is claimed to be a dynamic system, rather as Geometer's Sketchpad is a dynamic geometry system. It contains over 100 data sets and data can be easily imported from sources such as Excel files and even from the Web.

Several companies will show their Integrated Learning Systems, most of which have been on the market for a year or two. Cami Software makes the intriguing claim to have a package which is aimed at students from infant school to A-levels, and I shall be very interested to see how this operates. Longman will be releasing Years 3 and 4 (pound;90 each) of its Tomorrow's Promise system, which I reviewed earlier this year. One of the notable features of this system is its easy management via Personal Compass, which is used to monitor pupils' progress and to determine their path though the activities. Please don't forget to look carefully at the management involved in running an ILS - it can make all the difference.

Granada Stand: Stand: F30www.logo.comLongman Stand: F30www.logo.comBlackCat Stand: F70www.blackcatsoftware.comCami Stand: SW61Tel: 0961 405 1391The Skills Factory Stand: SW43 www.skillsfactory.comQED Stand: P38Tel: 01494 772973Easy Peasy Stand: Two-Can Stand: SW58Tel: 0171 684 4000.

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