Survey ks3 english textbooks

21st February 2003 at 00:00
Peter Shears sorts through the support texts for key stage 3

English departments looking for a textbook to support teaching at key stage 3 will find plenty to choose from. The introduction of Framework for Teaching English:Years 7, 8 and 9 has had a significant impact on the design and content. Nearly all the schemes present the full range of texts and assignments in ways which are clear, accessible and engaging.

Moving-image texts are not particularly well represented, with the notable exception of the English and Media Centre's KS3 series which comes with an accompanying video.

In some cases the language of aims and objectives, starters and plenaries, is used explicitly; in others the framework is alluded to only in support materials intended for use by the class teacher. The challenges posed by the recommended lesson structure in terms of resourcing have been met in a variety of ways. OUP's Literacy Kit contains hundreds of word cards for use as starters and many publishers offer ready-made overhead transparencies.

Some of these textbooks would be handy to have in case of staff absence, but some departments may want to buy into one particular series and base their schemes of work on the textbooks alone. Many departments will by now, however, have developed banks of their own resources linked to schemes of work which have been written with the Framework in mind. Given the considerable cost involved, be sure that what's offered is better than what you have produced yourself.

It seems unlikely that any one textbook used on its own will be able to compare with the resources, lesson plans and assignments which teams of teachers have been developing in recent years to adapt the Framework to the specific needs of their students. But all the materials surveyed have some merit and, in the end, most will probably be used to complement rather than replace existing resources.

Peter Shears is head of English at Cardinal Newman Catholic School, Hove, East Sussex

TITLE

Cambridge University Press Literacy in Context Teacher's portfolio pound;14.95, student's book pound;9.95, student's study guide pound;4.95 www.uk.cambridge.org

DESCRIPTION

Eight student books, each accompanied by a teacher's portfolio. Each student book covers a specific type of writing. Texts are grouped by genre (for example, language to imagine, explore and entertain, language to analyse, review and comment and language of literary non-fiction).

LINKS

Word, sentence and text-level activities are included in every unit.

CONTENT

Texts are brief but the subject matter is up to date and accessible. The series covers the full range of text types specified by the national curriculum.

Noc-5 learning Noc-6 Activities focus on detailed reading. They can be completed by students individually or collaboratively. Writing frames are provided with helpful suggestions for redrafting and improving work in progress.

DESIGN

The books are colourful and clearly set out.

SUPPORT

Teacher's portfolio contains background notes, information and ideas, copymasters with homework assignments and additional classroom activities.

VERDICT

A well thought out series which would be easy to incorporate into current schemes of work. The focus on a specific genre in each book is particularly helpful.

TITLE

Collins English Frameworking Teaching resources 1, 2, 3 pound;29.99 each, student book 1, 2, 3 pound;8.99 each, access teaching resources 1, 2, 3 pound;29.99 each www.fireandwater.com

DESCRIPTION

Three textbooks for Years 7, 8 and 9 with an additional book, Journeys, covering all three years with examples of pre-and post-1914 poetry. English Frameworking Access is a set of photocopiable worksheets and teacher's notes offering differentiated activities to support students at level 3 working towards level 4.

LINKS

Double-page sections follow the Framework lesson structure.

CONTENT

Each book covers the full range of text types. The front of each book shows which objectives are covered. Sections have headings such as "imagine, explore, entertain" and "analyse, review, comment".

LEARNING

Aims for each section are followed by a starter, an introduction, a central assignment and topics for discussion in the plenary.

DESIGN

Each lesson is clearly set out, but there is a lot of text on each page which could be off-putting for weaker students.

SUPPORT

Each of books 1-3 is accompanied by a teacher's resource, a collection of photocopiable worksheets, teacher's notes and a CD-Rom.

VERDICT

A useful resource with each section designed as a ready-made lesson following the Framework structure. TITLE

Heinemann Skills in English Teacher's resource 1, 2, 3G, 3R pound;72.99 each, student CD-Rom 1, 2, 3G, 3R pound;52.50 each, student book 1, 2, 3G, 3R pound;9.75 each www.heinemann.co.uk

DESCRIPTION

A series of four textbooks offering full coverage of the national curriculum and Framework objectives for Years 7-9. Two books are published for use with Year 9 students. 3R is targeted at students working at levels 5-7, with extension materials for those at Level 8. 3G is aimed at students working at levels 3-5.

LINKS

The teacher's resource file indicates how the various sections cover specific Framework and national curriculum objectives.

CONTENT

A wide range of interesting and original texts accompanied by challenging and varied activities.

LEARNING

Short pieces of text are followed by clearly worded activities designed to help students understand how texts are constructed. Detailed guidance is given to help students with their own writing.

DESIGN

The emphasis is on making the different forms of text clear and accessible.

SUPPORT

The teacher's resource file shows how units support the national curriculum and Framework objectives. The files contain support and extension sheets.

VERDICT

An excellent range of texts and activities offering challenging and stimulating materials. The differentiated approach to books 3R and 3G is particularly successful.

TITLE

Longman Literacy Through Texts Teacher's file 1, 2, 3 pound;99.99 each, pupils' book 1, 2, 3 pound;10.50 each www.longman.co.uk

DESCRIPTION

Three pupils' books, each with an accompanying teacher's file. Each book contains a wide range of fiction and non-fiction texts. Book 3 prepares pupils for the new format national tests.

LINKS

Activities and texts are designed to meet the Framework sentence and text-level objectives.

CONTENT

A wide range of genres, including poetry, travel writing, texts from a variety of cultures, drama and media. Whole texts feature prominently.

LEARNING

Each text is placed in context. Clear prompts guide students in their reading. Assignments, closely linked to the texts, cover reading for meaning, vocabulary and spelling, sentences, paragraphs and punctuation.

DESIGN

Texts and assignments are presented clearly and accessibly. The books are attractive and present the various texts in an engaging and helpful manner.

SUPPORT

The teacher's file contains a Framework objectives chart, showing how each activity fulfils Framework requirements, as well as starter activities and extension materials.

VERDICT

The strength of the series lies in the substantial texts, which results in more satisfying reading than the brief extracts in other publications.

TITLE

Longman Literacy Objectives Teacher's guide 1, 2, 3 pound;69.99 each, pupils' book 1, 2, 3 pound;10.50 each www.longman.co.uk

DESCRIPTION

Three pupils' books, each with an accompanying teacher's file.

LINKS

The books are structured around the writing requirements of the Framework.

CONTENT

Sections are organised thematically under places, travel, science, and so on. Texts from a variety of genres are explored at text, word and sentence-level, with writing assignments to put the theory into practice.

LEARNING

Each section provides students with a structured approach to a specific genre. Writing and planning frames help students see practical applications for their work on words and sentences.

DESIGN

Colourful, uncluttered and helpful for both students and teachers.

SUPPORT

A teacher's file for each pupil book contains medium and short-term plans covering the key lessons in each unit structured according to the Framework.

VERDICT

An attractive, well-designed course which speaks clearly and engagingly to students.

TITLE

Oxford University Press The Literacy Kit Teacher's book, level 1, 4, 7 pound;21 each, student's book, level 1, 4, 7 pound;8.50 each, OHT pack, level 1, 4, 7 pound;25 each www.oup.com

DESCRIPTION

Two boxes, containing word and sentence-level starter activities. Three student books, focusing on writing to inform, explain and describe; persuade and analyse; imagine, explore and entertain. Three teacher's books and three OHT packs.

LINKS

The starter activities cover every word and sentence-level objective for Years 7-9. The OHTs present texts which have been organised according to the groupings used in the Framework.

CONTENT

The materials cover the full range of texts and activities specified by the Framework.

LEARNING

The kit supports a variety of learning strategies. Structured activities in the student's books introduce pupils to the features of different text types, provide them with models and include work on language analysis.

DESIGN

The word and sentence-level starters boxes contain hundreds of word and letter cards. These save preparation but may be difficult to keep together.

SUPPORT

Each teacher's book gives detailed and helpful guidance. The OHP packs, with their accompanying teaching notes, are extremely thorough.

VERDICT

Everything you need to teach the Framework in a box.

TITLE

English and Media Centre KS3 English series videos pound;14.95 each, books pound;9.95 each, teacher's guide + CD-Rom pound;29.95www.englishandmedia.co.uk

DESCRIPTION

Four books, each with an accompanying video: The Media Book; The Poetry Book; The Non-Fiction Book; The Fiction Book

LINKS

The course addresses the Framework objectives for Years 7-9 but the pupil books make no mention of these. The details are provided in the teacher's notes on the accompanying CD-Rom.

CONTENT

Progression across the key stage is incorporated into the choice of texts and assignments, which are imaginative and varied. The videos in particular provide students with intelligent and demanding materials.

LEARNING

The units are designed to support fast-paced teaching. There is a clear focus on pupil-centred approaches to learning.

DESIGN

The emphasis in the pupil books is on text, but the way in which video extracts are integrated into the package is particularly exciting and rewarding.

SUPPORT

Teacher's notes for each book in the series include long, medium and short term plans for each unit, written to the Framework.

VERDICT

An imaginative and challenging set of resources. The videos are particularly useful.

TITLE

Hodder amp; Stoughton New English Gold CD 1, 2, 3 together pound;24.66, pupils' book 1, 2, 3 pound;8.99 each www.madaboutbooks.com

DESCRIPTION

Three textbooks, one for each of Years 7-9, designed for pupils working at levels 2-4.

LINKS

A mapping grid in each book shows which objectives are covered by each unit of work.

CONTENT

The full range of genres, tones and forms of writing is represented through a wide range of fiction and non-fiction texts. Pre-20th century texts are well presented in abridged rather than simplified form.

LEARNING

Each unit begins with a clear introduction. Pupils then work through a series of tasks to develop and consolidate skills. Activities are designed so that pupils achieve objectives quickly.

DESIGN

Clear and helpful, particularly for pupils at levels 2-4

SUPPORT

Each book contains a section headed teacher guidance which gives advice on how to teach the units. The Hodder English website offers further guidance.

VERDICT

An excellent resource for this level. The texts and assignments are challenging, but the care with which they are presented makes the work accessible.

TITLE

Hodder amp; Stoughton New Hodder English pupils' book 1, 2, 3 pound;8.99 each www.madaboutbooks.com

DESCRIPTION

A series of three books, each offering seven units of work. The units are designed to complement existing schemes of work.

LINKS

The series is designed to address the Framework objectives. Mapping charts showing which units support the teaching of specific objectives are on the Hodder English website.

CONTENT

A wide range of literary and non-literary texts provide the basis for assignments which focus on the development of specific skills.

LEARNING

Each unit opens with a guide for students explaining which skills they will be developing. The structure of the unit is clear from the outset. Oral activities are an integral part.

DESIGN

Helpful, attractive and imaginative. The use of text boxes to emphasise key points is particularly successful.

SUPPORT

The New Hodder English teacher's resource offers free online guidance for using the units in class. The website shows how the course covers the Framework objectives.

VERDICT

A straightforward and well-designed series.

TITLE

Letts Framework Focus pupils' book pound;5 each www.lettseducation.co.uk

DESCRIPTION

A series of 16 books. Each book focuses on a single topic and is aimed at a specific year group. Themes include spelling, grammar, standard English and non-fiction.

LINKS

Each book is divided into units which are based on the Framework lesson structure.

CONTENT

Brief extracts of text are used as starting points for structured activities designed to deliver specific learning objectives.

LEARNING

The Framework structure is used to give students a sense of each unit's aims. Starters and plenaries form an integral part of each unit. Tasks are modest in scope and challenge.

DESIGN

Cartoon-style graphics and poorly reproduced colour photographs, some of which appear dated.

SUPPORT

A grid at the front of each book identifies which skills and objectives are covered.

VERDICT

Straightforward, but unattractive. The units are very basic in terms of content and would need to be reinforced with additional resources.

TITLE

Nelson THORNES Framework English 1-3 Teacher's guide pound;40, resource book pound;60, skills in fiction pound;7, skill in non-fiction pound;7 (pupils' books) www.nelsonthornes.co.uk

DESCRIPTION

Designed for use with Years 7-9 and intended to provide continuity with and progression from Year 6. Two pupil books for each Year group; skills in fiction and skills in non-fiction, teacher's guides, resource books.

LINKS

The Framework provides the structure for each unit. The relationship between individual units and Framework objectives has clearly been thought out with considerable attention to detail.

CONTENT

A rich variety of complex and challenging texts together with carefully structured and demanding tasks.

LEARNING

Each section opens with a stimulus passage. Activities focus clearly on text, word and sentence-level work. Prompts for student's own writing are helpful yet demanding.

DESIGN

Excellent. Bright images and well-designed pages present texts and assignments in an engaging and attractive format.

SUPPORT

Excellent. The teacher's guide contains a summary of the Framework objectives met by each section. Notes accompanying each section give advice on starters.

VERDICT

A superb resource. Constructed with attention to detail and providing teachers with well-written texts, assignments and resources.

TITLE

Nelson THORNES Level Best Teacher resource book 1, 2, 3 pound;50 each, pupils' book 1, 2, 3 pound;8.50 each www.nelsonthornes.co.uk

DESCRIPTION

Three student textbooks covering Years 7, 8 and 9, each accompanied by a teacher resource book.

LINKS

Texts and tasks are in line with Framework teaching strategies.

CONTENT

The content of each unit is designed to meet the needs of middle-ability students. Drama, media, fiction and non-fiction are all well represented.

LEARNING

Assignments are carefully worded in ways which support the development of students' skills and knowledge. Self-evaluation is an integral part of each unit.

DESIGN

Simple, uncluttered layout presents both texts and assignments in a clear and coherent fashion.

SUPPORT

The teacher resource books contain model answers and photocopiable worksheets.

VERDICT

A well-designed resource which is written and produced with a clear sense of how to support students and teachers.

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