Pluses and minuses

28th February 2003 at 00:00
Nick Martin looks at a range of textbooks designed to support maths at key stage 3 maths

The Framework for Teaching Mathematics for Years 7, 8 and 9 arrived more than two years ago. It has sections on leadership, management and planning.

It also contains a 280-page supplement of examples illustrating each objective of the yearly teaching programme in addition to ideas for teaching them.

A major feature of the national strategy for key stage 3 is that lessons are clearly structured and driven by objectives. It recommends that, where possible, lessons should be divided into three parts: begin with an oral and mental starter; then move on to the interactive main part of the lesson; and finish with the plenary.

When teachers first saw the Framework and looked at the supplement, many asked if this meant the end of the old-fashioned textbook with pages and pages of exercises. Some even asked if they needed textbooks at all.

Publishers have responded to the challenge and produced a new breed of textbook, linked to the Framework. Many of these contain ideas for starters and plenaries as well as examples of interactive main parts, and nearly all clearly state the objective of each activity. Some even have self-assessment exercises for students to assess their own progress.

With so many publishers bringing new books on to the market at once, it is difficult to find the time to keep up. This review will help teachers to see what's on offer. I recruited two KS3 students, Samuel and Jonathon Lymon of Robert Bloomfield Middle School in Bedfordshire, to provide a student perspective in addition to my own opinions.

TITLE

OUP. Framework Maths. Student's book pound;10.99, teacher's book pound;25. CD licence for six pound;150. Year 8 later this year, Year 9 2004. Tel: 01536 741171 www.oup.co.uk

DESIGN AND CONTENT

The units are linked to the NNS medium term plans and have the objectives listed at the start along with "what you should know" before you start. Each section of a unit also begins with the objectives to be covered and the key words. This is followed by a number of worked examples and an exercise. At the end of the unit there is a "Summary" section where students assess their own learning against the objectives and right at the back of the book there is a glossary, solutions and an index.

STRUCTURE

There are three differentiated books for each year group.

SUPPORT

The teacher's book includes ideas for mental oral starters, whole-class teaching and plenaries, as well as useful resources, possible ICT tasks, ideas for differentiation, solutions and a homework task. There is also a commentary box that lists ideas for problem solving, group work, links and even common misconceptions. The CD contains homework sheets, OHPs, ICT activities, resource sheets, an assessment package and a Scheme of Work Generator.

STUDENT VIEW

The way the book is laid out is good because it grabs your attention and there is a different book for different classes. There is also a glossary so you can look things up. The OHTs and the ICT activities sound good as well.

VERDICT

An incredible amount of thought and hard work has gone into producing this resource. It has been written in line with the framework and promotes the same strategies. The only down side is the pound;150 for the CD and the fact that Year 9 is not out until next year. *****

TITLE

COLLINS. Maths Frameworking. Pupil book pound;8.99, practice book pound;3.99. Teacher's pack pound;59.99, assessment test pack pound;39.99, (Year 8 complete out March, Year 9 complete out June). Tel: 0870 787 1612 www.collinseducation.com

DESIGN AND CONTENT

Each chapter starts by stating the objectives to be covered and "what they should already know". There is then a series of worked examples and exercises, including extension work. At the end of each chapter there are a number of national test questions and a list of what a student needs to know to achieve a particular level.

STRUCTURE

There are three differentiated books for each year group.

SUPPORT

A practice book with further exercises is linked to each pupil book. There is also a teacher's pack for each book which links every objective to a lesson plan (also on a CD enclosed) and to a section of the book. The lesson plans all begin with an oral and mental starter, followed by ideas for the main part of the lesson and finish with a plenary. There is then a homework activity with answers and a list of key words. There is also an assessment test pack with national curriculum questions and mark schemes.

STUDENT VIEW

The "What You Should Already Know" bit is a good idea and it has the most interesting looking cover, which makes you want to look in it. The national test questions at the end of each chapter are also good because then you know what level questions you can answer. The practice book is useful as well because then you don't have to take the big book home.

VERDICT

This series is well thought out and there is a considerable amount of support available. The books also promote the model of objective driven three-part lessons, but with so much support given some teachers may find the teachers packs a bit too prescriptive.

****

TITLE

CUP. SMP Interact. Pupil book from pound;6.50, practice book from pound;1.95, teacher's guide pound;10.95, copymasters from pound;15. Tel: 01223 325588 www.cambridge.org

DESIGN AND CONTENT

Each chapter begins by highlighting the key learning objectives and indicates which activities are designed to be teacher-led, teacher supported or for students to consolidate their leaning. The activities are also starred when they are designed to be more challenging. At various points throughout the books there are "What progress have you made?" where "I can" statements are linked to questions so students can assess their own learning.

STRUCTURE

There are three differentiated books for each year group.

SUPPORT

The teacher's guide provides an overview of each unit with plenty of guidance and includes whole-class key questions, open-ended tasks, topics for discussion, ideas for ICT, group work and solutions. Throughout the book there is advice from teachers who have piloted the materials and there are links to the practice booklets, which they suggest are ideal for homework. There are also further photocopiable resource sheets available.

STUDENT VIEW

The objectives at the start of each section are good and there are loads of interesting activities. The What Progress Have You Made? is really good and there are lots of pictures and diagrams which make you want to read it. And there is a little homework book that would fit in your pocket.

VERDICT

The layout and the structure of the books is well thought out and closely linked to the Framework. The books promote discussion, practical activities and games, group work and self-questioning. In trying to be flexible, SMP has produced a whole host of books all at different prices, which some teachers may find difficult to manage.

****

TITLE

HODDER. Formula One Maths. Pupil book pound;9.99, teacher's resource pound;75+vat practice book pound;3.99 (out later in the year) assessment resource pound;75. Tel: 020 7873 6000 www.formulaonemaths.co.uk

DESIGN AND CONTENT

Each chapter consists of several double-page spreads, one for each lesson. They start with an interactive, whole-class activity with discussion points and then follow up with a task and an exercise. There are a variety of tasks including games, ICT and short investigations. At the end of each chapter there is a reminder of the objectives and a review exercise with answers at the back.

STRUCTURE

There are two differentiated books in Year 7 and Year 8 with three in Year 9. A further series for lower attaining pupils called Formula One Maths Gold is due later this year and next.

SUPPORT

The teacher's resource provides lesson notes, which include the objectives and an oral and mental starter. There are also national test-style questions with answers and mark schemes, support and extension sheets, ICT activities, website links and OHT masters (on a CD) as well as a beginning-of-the-year test to be used diagnostically. The practice books have extra support exercises and homework. On the website there is an assessment resource, which also comes as a CD.

STUDENT VIEW

The covers are really great and just make you want to look inside. The pages are well laid out and the pictures are really good. The discussion bit at the start of every lesson is a good idea because then everyone is included and the warning sign is good because it tells you when you might make a mistake before it happens.

VERDICT

The books are well laid out with plenty of colour and excellent diagrams.

There are a variety of different tasks and the teacher's resource gives considerable support and promotes the model of the three-part lesson. The website is particularly good with further support for teachers and pupils.

****

TITLE

FOLENS. Maths Programme. Text books pound;14.95, teacher file pound;59.95 copiable file + CD pound;69.95 PowerPoint CD pound;49.95. Tel: 0870 609 1235 www.folens.com

DESIGN AND CONTENT

The course is spilt into units and then into individual lessons.

Each lesson in the textbook has worked examples, activities and challenges.

However, the books are very much seen as a resource to the teacher file.

STRUCTURE

Two differentiated textbooks for each year group and a teacher file for each term for each year group.

SUPPORT

The teacher file contains unit plans, lesson plans, solutions and activity sheets (also on a CD). The unit plans highlight the objectives covered, the support and extension objectives. They also list the key vocabulary and the resources. The lesson plans begin with an oral and mental starter, followed by the main activity with differentiated tasks and finish with a plenary.

There is also a CD with PowerPoint presentations for every lesson.

STUDENT VIEW

It is good the way it is broken down lesson by lesson because then you get bite-size pieces. The ICT and the graphic calculator activities sound good and there are lots of interesting problems and activities. Sometimes there is a lot on a page.

VERDICT

The teacher files provide a massive amount of support and are packed full of ideas and resources all in line with the Framework, but some teachers could see this as being too prescriptive, and with a different teacher file for each year and each term it could get expensive.

***

TITLE

LETTS. I see Maths. Student book pound;8, teacher resource pound;25. Year 9 out April. Tel: 0800 216 592 www.letts-education.com

DESIGN AND CONTENT

There is a double-page spread for each lesson, starting with the goals of the lesson. Next is the starter activity, followed by demonstrations and a plenary activity. On the following pages there are differentiated exercises, problem solving exercises and a homework task.

There is a review of KS2 at the start of the course and at the back of each book there is a national curriculum test section and glossary.

STRUCTURE

There is one book for each year group.

SUPPORT

The teacher resource is fully photocopiable and gives details on each part of the lesson. There is a considerable amount of support available, including key questions for every lesson.

STUDENT VIEW

The goals at the start are good because you then know what you are going to do and there are lots of different ways of looking at the same thing. The levels next to each section are also a good idea. The dictionary and the little website book are really good.

VERDICT

Lots of work has obviously gone into producing this book, even down to choosing the colour of the paper. It is closely linked to the Framework and is objective driven with starters, main parts and plenaries. The book is clearly laid out, but sometimes there is an awful lot on a page.

***

TITLE

NELSON THORNES. New National Framework Mathematics. Pupil book pound;10.75, teacher resource pound;60 (assessment resource out soon). Tel: 01242 267100 www.nelsonthornes.com

DESIGN AND CONTENT

Each chapter begins with the "You Need to Know" and a list of key vocabulary. This is followed by activities, worked examples, exercises, puzzles, practical activities and ideas for investigations. At the end of each chapter is a summary of key points and a test yourself section with answers. There is also support provided at the beginning of each strand.

STRUCTURE

There is a core book for each year group and a plus book for the more able.

SUPPORT

The teacher support file links each chapter to objectives in the Framework and contains teacher's notes, worksheets, homework sheets, solutions, ICT and even graphical calculator support. A resource for assessment is also coming soon.

STUDENT VIEW

The cartoon characters are a nice idea, and there are lots of diagrams but sometimes it is a bit too packed with information. The "You Need to Know" and the summary of key points are really good.

VERDICT

There are enormous amounts of ideas, puzzles, activities and discussion points in these books, but some of the pages have far too much going on and could put some students off.

***

TITLE

LETTS. KS3 Maths Classbook: Framework Edition. Classbook pound;8, teacher resource pound;25. Tel: 0800 216 592 www.letts-education.com

DESIGN AND CONTENT

Each of the 33 chapters begins by stating the objectives to be covered. This is followed by a series of explanations, worked examples and exercises. The answers to key questions are given at the back so students can see if they are on the right track. There are also more challenging star questions. At the end of each chapter there is a summary and review exercise.

STRUCTURE

There is one book for each year group.

SUPPORT

The teaching resource has a small amount of information on each exercise and the answers, as well as 117 photocopiable worksheets.

STUDENT VIEW

You can't tell which objective goes with what because they all come at the start of the chapter and there isn't enough variety in the way things are presented. In the multiplication chapter it teaches you tricks but not the understanding and it's a bit boring to look at.

VERDICT

You may need to buy only one book for all three years of KS3, but this is not really a new breed of textbook, it is more like the old style with some objectives thrown in. In places it doesn't promote the strategies from the Framework or show any progression from KS2.

*

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