Mathematics has had a high profile this year, partly as a result of the Smith report and partly due to Tomlinson's recommendation that "functional mathematics" should be compulsory. It is too early to see these events influencing new software but I am sure that developers will quickly rise to the challenge, judging by the speed with which companies have responded to the rapid spread of whiteboard technology.
Smile will be showing its new version of Mathematical Puzzles (single user pound;50) and will launch a brand-new program, Algebra (single user Pounds 55). Mathematical Puzzles has been updated to allow easier use with an interactive whiteboard. The puzzles include those old favourites, Frogs and Towers of Hanoi. I will be particularly interested in the Algebra program because few existing programs allow students to explore algebraic concepts in sufficient depth. The Smile disc will cover equation solving, mappings and simplification and if it is up to Smile's usual high quality it will be well worth seeking out.
Cambridge-Hitachi has designed a series of CD-Roms, Mult-e-Maths (from Pounds 95-pound;300 including site licences), for key stage 2 pupils.
These programs are specifically for use with interactive whiteboards and cover topics such as measures, fractions and problem solving. Visual Fractions (from pound;45), from Logotron-Widgit, is also designed to be used with interactive whiteboards. It contains a large collection of maths objects which can be connected together to demonstrate relationships between fractions, percentages, ratio and so on. It is certainly an entertaining and stimulating approach to this topic.
Interesting ideas do not always come from the large software houses, and Easy Peasy has added to its programs on the four rules with Division Explored (from pound;39.50). The program offers five ways to pull a number apart, based on the method of chunking. Easy Peasy's programs use clear and simple graphics and, because they do not rely heavily on words, are very useful for those whose first language is not English. An interesting variation on word searches and crossword puzzles comes from Australian company EduPuzzles. These combine text, graphics and animation to help reinforce vocabulary and concepts in KS2. Although I am not a fan of word searches, I could appreciate the power of these puzzles when I tried them and saw how they used animated illustrations once the words had been found.
One of the most impressive pieces of software for the numeracy strategy comes from 2Simple. 2Calculate (from pound;39) has already received a glowing review from the TES (Online, September 10) and I would urge you to take a look at its power allied to its ease of use. You can think of it as an easy way to introduce spreadsheets to young pupils or you can just use its many functions to construct equations, introduce symbols and make a start on algebraic ideas. The on-screen videos provide good ideas for using the program.
Many schools are subscribers to Espresso, which has a new module to add to its comprehensive offering of video-rich material. Time for KS1 pupils (price differs according to LEA) shows time being measured in a variety of ways and for different purposes. The video clips, filmed on an urban farm, put time in context with examples such as feeding time for animals and time to clean out the pigs and cows.
Semerc, the special needs software division of Granada, is launching Number Track (from pound;39) which will be useful for young pupils as well as those with specific numeracy and memory difficulties. As the title suggests, the program covers counting and ordering.
It is good to see that the power of Logo is still being exploited by programs such as The Crystal Rain Forest (v2) from Sherston (single user pound;59.95; site licence pound;299.75). This version has some new activities and a new ending, as well as incorporating new Logo skills. The program helps to develop problem-solving skills as well as encouraging children to respect the environment. Terry 2 (pound;35) from Kudlian is an enhanced version of its Logo application for ages up to 9. This program allows pupils to explore the ideas of movement and turns before moving on to full Logo programming. This new version has more variables, which means that there are more possibilities for mathematical exploration.
Finally, something that is both free and not being unveiled at BETT. Skoool (www.skoool.co.uk) is an online library of secondary resources which cover a good deal of the KS3 content and some of KS4. Students can download the content to their PC, mobile phone or PDA, making this site not only good value but also extremely versatile.
2 Simple - 2 Calculate Stand F76
Tel: 020 8293 1781
Easy Peasy - Division Explored
Tel: 01946 813065 www.easypeasy.co.uk
Logotron - Visual Fractions Stand SN10
Tel: 01223 425 558
Edupuzzles Stand F100
Tel: 020 7632 0003 www.edupuzzles.com
Cambridge-Hitachi Stand S20
Tel: 01223 325894
Espresso Stand D64
Tel: 020 8237 1200 www.espresso.co.uk
Granada Stand E40
Tel: 0208 9963632
Kudlian Stand M100
Tel: 01926 842544
SMILE Stand SW95
Tel: 020 7598 4841