Problem solving made easy

5th May 2006 at 01:00
INTERMEDIATE 2 MATHS THROUGH PRACTICE AND EXAMPLE. By Peter Westwood. Pounds 9.99. Hodder Gibson

With more pupils choosing maths in S5 and S6 and with a growing number of schools electing to present pupils for Intermediate rather than Standard grade courses in S3 and S4, there is an increasing market for good textbooks at Intermediate level. Peter Westwood's latest is one of the few textbooks available specifically designed to cover the Intermediate 2 maths course.

It mirrors the format of the Intermediate 2 course and comprises material for all units, including the one on Applications. All learning outcomes are comprehensively covered in the order that they are tested. Each topic is introduced with worked examples and reminders of skills which pupils should already be familiar with. For example, in the section on expanding brackets, pupils are reminded of what it means to square a term and also of the rules for multiplying integers.

The author generally shows more than one method for solving a problem and tries to cover a variety of ways of explaining a new concept. This is a particularly good feature of the book. However, some pupils may be confused by the different methods used, so teachers should guide classes carefully on the use of the worked examples sections.

The book provides plenty of exercises on each new skill, so that pupils can have lots of practice. There are lots of basic drill-type questions followed, where appropriate, by questions in context. Questions are never too wordy, so accessing the maths shouldn't be a problem for any poorer readers. All exercises have answers supplied at the back of the book. At the end of each learning outcome, there is a revision exercise, followed by a test on that topic. These are very useful, and will be particularly helpful to pupils prior to a unit assessment. There are no mock unit assessments in this textbook, though.

The statistical assignment required in Unit 4 is covered well. There is advice for pupils on what to include in their assignment, along with a sample. This will be very helpful to those unsure how to begin tackling such tasks.

Aesthetically, this book has no colour and may be a little uninspiring to look at, but the content and layout cannot be faulted. All in all, a good book.

Joanne Connolly teaches maths at St Margaret's Academy, Livingston

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