Straightforward strands

22nd September 2000 at 01:00
CAMBRIDGE MATHEMATICS DIRECT. Year 3 Number Strand resources. By Sandy Cowling, Jane Crowden, Andrew King and Jeanette Mumford. NUMBERS AND THE NUMBER SYSTEM. Pupils' book pound;3.50. Teacher's book pound;19.95. Copymasters pound;14.95. CALCULATIONS. Pupils' book pound;4.95. Teacher's book pound;29.95. Copymasters pound;19.95. Interactive posters pound;60.

A planning pack free to adopting schools includes a classroom assistant's booklet; overview charts; mixed year linking grids and records checklists.

Cambridge University Press Cambridge Mathematics Direct is the new key stage 2 maths resource from Cambridge University Press and, given the popularity of previous teaching schemes from this stable, it will be studied with keen anticipation in many staffrooms. The structure is straightforward though the number of components is extensive.

The curriculum is divided into three strands: numbers and the number system; calculations; and shape, space, measures and handling data. For each year group, for each of these strands, there is a pupils' textbook, teacher's resource pack and set of copymasters. In addition there are two sets of "interactive pictures" - brightly coloured A1 posters which are laminated so that they can be written on and wiped clean - for each year.

The Year 3 number materials available for review clearly reflect the National Numeracy Strategy's Framework and its emphasis on mental calculation at this stage.

The teacher's packs link the various components through a sequence of daily lesson plans. These are comprehensively packed with ideas for a three-part lesson and address issues of ifferentiation in a more realistic way than some similar schemes. They helpfully identify key ideas within the objectives chosen for the lesson, list important vocabulary and suggest homework activities.

Clearly, as with all such resources which attempt to do all the planning in detail, most teachers would need to adapt rather than adopt the plans to meet the particular needs of their class. However, there are enough good ideas, particularly advice on direct, interactive teaching in the main part of the lesson, to make the teacher's books a useful reference resource.

The sample interactive pictures use a large range of settings and offer plenty of scope for generating mathematical discussions. The pupils' books are bright and attractive with some useful typographical touches.

Work that is intended to be tackled independently and work that needs teacher support are distinguished. Questions at three or four levels of difficulty are provided for most sections and the key ideas to be learned are highlighted for pupils.

Although reusable texts can work out more cheaply than disposable booklets or worksheets, at more than pound;350 for a typical class set you would need to be very confident they were going to be effective with your children before buying.

The scheme has clearly benefited from careful development. Several interesting features, for example a booklet for classroom assistants, mean that it will be worth studying, but we shall need to see more components to judge how consistent the quality is.

Linton Waters is county maths adviser for Shropshire

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