Solid support and reinforcement

21st November 1997 at 00:00
GCSE GEOGRAPHY. Frances Cook, Helen Harris, Rachel Lofthouse and Mel Rockett. Causeway Press Pounds 10.95. Teacher's Guide Pounds 20. REVISE GCSE GEOGRAPHY. David Jones. Hodder Stoughton Pounds 8.99.

Causeway's GCSE Geography is one of several coursebooks to hit the market recently, and it compares well with its competitors. The book is organised thematically using a wide variety of places to illustrate and develop ideas. Patterns and processes are well explained and each section is organised to support the reader.

Each topic has an opening summary of main points followed by key questions, learning objectives and central ideas to focus attention. The tasks use a wide range of activities such as role-play, writing for a variety of audiences, working in groups and using several resources in combination.

Each enquiry starts with a "mind map" to provide a visual image of key points. Material is colourful and up-to-date, and uses a good balance of map, graph, table, text and photograph. The overall effect is lively - although the photos are often small and text is sometimes printed over images, making it difficult to read. Review activities and a glossary provide a useful revision framework.

The book, with its teacher's guide of supplementary, photocopiable resources, is aimed at the full ability range. But the material is stronger on extending range and tasks for able students than on underpinning learning for the less able.

While GCSE Geography is clearly designed as a class textbook, Revise GCSE Geography targets individuals seeking to reinforce class learning or working alone. It is one of several revision guides available, and is better than most, given its support for study techniques such as mind maps, note-taking and faster reading.

There is useful support on exam techniques and ways to adapt the book's contents to a specific syllabus. There are also sample exam questions with suggested answers. Revise GCSE Geography will offer strongest support to well-motivated students who can connect the material to their own class learning. For less confident learners the cryptic summaries of key points, lack of development of topics, and absence of an enquiry approach may prove confusing.

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