Pings and whistles
As soon as I had completed the first task I clicked on "Check" to see if I had got everything right and was greeted by a congratulatory whistle and smiling face.
I clicked again and was treated to a different sound effect. Click a third time and you get a different one again. You can imagine the cacophony of pings, whistles, squeaks and bells that will ensue when a whole class is at work. By typing in the wrong answers you can enjoy an equally impressive range of groans, sighs andhoots.
Perhaps your pupils are more mature than I am and will use these materials in the businesslike way in which they are intended. Each CD contains a wide range of GCSE reading tasks - 100 at Foundation level and 50 at Higher.
Each task has five questions - matchingexercises, truefalse, yesno, inserting words or numbers, and so on. The emphasis is firmly on reading, and only minimal keyboard skills are needed.
Feedback is instantaneous and pupils have the opportunity to amend answers which are marked wrong.
I like the "Vocab" button by which users may call up a simple glossary. The tasks cover all GCSE topics - stalwarts such as food, school and holidays as well as the newer ones such as the environment and technology.
A photocopiable insert lists all the tasks and provides a useful index for teachers as well as a record sheet for pupils' scores.
The national curriculum requires pupils to read texts "from ICT based sources". Those for whom this has until now meant nothing more than the photocopier could find these materials a useful investment.
Richard Marsden is an independent advisory teacher and author of the 'Klartext' GCSE German course (John Murray)