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TV and radio

Robin Buss's pick of the week

Maths Week

Teachers' TV, Saturday July 1, 8-8.30am, 10am-12noon

The difficulty with maths usually has to do with the abstract nature of the subject, so most of the strategies suggested in Teachers' TV Maths Week involve making it more concrete. Plastic cups play a significant role, despite the arrival of more recent technology - interactive number lines, data plotting range-finders, graphical calculators and miscellaneous software; while darts and wool provide more unusual, if equally low-tech, teaching aids for Year 2 in mid-morning.

We start with Year 1, however, and Teaching Place Value (8-8.30am), using ideas from Springfield School in Jersey. The essence of the teaching method here is to develop "maths stories", moving items (such as those plastic cups) from one table to another. The second half is about how the school explains to parents that when their children talk about "two-ty" and "three-ty", this is part of the teaching strategy.

We continue with two imaginative schemes for teaching maths in primary school using firstly knitting and then darts (10-10.30am). In the second case, champion darts player Bobby George drops in to explaining the mental maths involved in those subtractions down to the final double.

At secondary level, real-world examples are usually more useful than knitting needles and plastic cups.

Mean, Median and Mode and Making Statistics Work (10.30-11am) explain different kinds of "averages" and apply them to the fields of house prices and fashion (for example, discovering the most popular colour for trainers by a simple tally count).

It's back to plastic cups for teaching Just Division and Understanding Division (11- .11.30am) to Years 1 and 2, ending with the latest materials in New Maths Technology (11.30-12noon).

The American Civil War

Discovery Civilisation, Sunday July 2, 1-5pm

This four-part history of the American Civil War starts with the causes of the conflict in The Road to Fort Sumter and continues through Total War to the Twilight of the Confederacy. The American Civil War was one of the first major historical events to have been recorded by the camera, so there is a lot of visual material to support the other documentary evidence.

Night Waves

BBC Radio 3, Friday June 30, 9.30-10.15pm

Phillip Dodds introduces this radio documentary to mark the 90th anniversary of the Battle of the Somme. He goes to the site of the slaughter to find out what traces remain in the landscape and listens to archive material, including the memories of survivors. Music, songs and poetry evoke Britain's most costly land battle, in a programme that should be useful for teachers of English, for example for Poets of the Great War.

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