The ones that count;TES book awards;Books

6th March 1998 at 00:00


LEARNING MATHEMATICS IN THE NURSERY: Desirable Approaches. By The Early Childhood Mathematics Group. BEAM pound;8.50. RUNNERS-UP

NUMBERTIME: Time. By Barbara Allebone and Lesley Jones. BBCEducation pound;10.99. DEVELOPING MENTAL MATHS WITH 9-11-YEAR-OLDS. By Tamara Bibby. Scholastic pound;8.99



NELSON SECONDARY MATHS EXTENSION BOOK. By Jim Noonan, Paula Barker, Terry Bevis, Gay Cain, Brian Martin, Christine Mitchell, Robert Powell and Gwen Wood. Nelson pound;5.25. RUNNERS-UP

MORE MATHEMATICAL CHALLENGES. By Tony Gardiner. Cambridge University Press pound;6.95. MATHS PLUS. By Sheila Beniston, Paul Cherry, Elizabeth Forth, Jill Lane and Gareth Price Collins pound;6.99. Maths is the subject of this year's TESEPC school book award. Linton Waters surveys the field

With the National Numeracy Project underway, what better subject than maths for this year's Schoolbook Award? As we sifted through more than 50 entries, we were pleased to see an encouraging number of books which sought to help teachers retain, or, if necessary, regain their key role as teacher in the mathematics classroom. Each of our final three primary books falls into this group.

This year's winner is Learning Mathematics in the Nursery: Desirable Approaches, from BEAM and the Early Childhood Mathematics Group. We were impressed by its topicality and enjoyed its down-to-earth approach, particularly in interpreting mathematical objectives through a wide range of real classroom situations.

Our two primary runners-up each focus on specific parts of the curriculum. Numbertime: Time by Barbara Allebone and Lesley Jones from BBC Education promotes the developing concepts of time in the minds of four and five-year-olds through a rich range of situations and activities. Scholastic's Developing Mental Mathematics for 9 to 11 year olds by Tamara Bibby tackles creatively a crucial area of competence often overlooked in major schemes. Each book identifies specific objectives within its chosen area and provides detailed guidance on how to present, develop and extend the ideas. Suggestions and resource sheets for games and other practical activities abound. We particularly liked the emphases on language and questioning.

Other primary entries, including those representing some of the larger commercial schemes, received mixed reactions. We liked the idea of the Plus books in the new Nelson 2000 series, which combine reinforcement and extension materials, but, as with some other submissions, we were put off by the pedantic attempts to teach detail from the written page. Abacus, the new series from Ginn, avoids this trap but the Abacus 5, Number Textbook 1 submitted did not reflect stronger parts of the scheme. We reserved our strongest criticism for several books that were clearly produced just to keep children occupied. They demanded a lot of photocopying and a lot of filling in (or even colouring in) but little thought.

In contrast to the primary section, this year's winner in the secondary category is part of a commercial scheme. Nelson Secondary Maths Extension Book is designed to provide extensions for more able students into level 8 of the key stage 3 curriculum. As such it serves a valuable, and sometimes neglected, need. The design is impressive and the presentation crisp, clear and concise. It does not attempt to teach didactically but draws out key learning points from the exercises.

Entries aimed at lower attaining secondary pupils included SMP Amber (CUP) and John Murray's Mathematics Now! series. Each had encouraging features, but the one that balances most successfully the conflicting demands they all face is Collins Maths Plus. It is lively and topical and, while the authors are not afraid to use language to engage, explain and instruct, readability is carefully preserved. They encourage the active role of the teacher and recognise that discussion is a vital part of successful learning.

Maths Plus takes a runner-up place alongside Cambridge University Press's More Mathematical Challenges by Tony Gardiner. This is a different kind of schoolbook in that it does not directly address the national curriculum and is aimed at no specific age group. Instead, it encourages pupils, particularly the more able, to get a feel for what doing mathematics is really all about by offering challenging problems emphasising logic and proof.

Other worthy entries included elements of Stanley Thornes' Key Maths series and the London GCSE Mathematics Foundation Course from Heinemann although, in the case of the latter, we were uncomfortable with the strong tie-in with one GCSE board.

Several submissions this year were from very small publishers. While this can be a welcome source of creative new ideas - and their cheapness undoubtedly appeals - too often these books suffered from poor proofreading, and cluttered or confusing presentation.

Only a few entries excited all of us, but we were impressed by their range and diversity. The most encouraging trend was towards books which support rather than supplant the teacher in the classroom.

Judges Ann Kitchen, research fellow at the Centre for Mathematics Education, Manchester University and chair of the Association of Teachers of MathematicsJon O'Connor, head of Parkside First School, Boreham Wood, HertfordshireLinton Waters, mathematics inspector for Shropshire

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