Learning mathematics through discussion and reflection: algebra at GCSE CD-Rom By Malcolm Swan and Muriel Green Learning and skills development agency Price: pound;50 Tel: 020 7297 9144 Email: enquiries@LSDA.org.uk
4Learning is to be congratulated on the third part of the Maths Mansion series. The materials aim to produce a range of stimulating activities to develop maths in the classroom and at home. These support the National Numeracy Strategy's principles of direct teaching and interactive oral work through the use of flexible resources. The programmes (about 10 minutes long) feature the Bad Man, the cheerfully enigmatic host, in a Gothic mansion where contestants use their mathematical skills to solve puzzles and problems. Aimed at 10 to 11-year-olds the materials could also be used in Year 7 to help support low or middle attainers. Like any resources the teacher needs to look at the materials to decide what suits their pupils best.
The teachers' guide suggests suitable ways of using the video and activity sheets with clear objectives for each lesson and the content of the video and books is excellent. The presenters are enthusiastic and the lively presentation adds to the impression that maths is fun. This is great value for money, especially considering that you could save the cost of the video by recording the programmes yourself. The materials look good and is inspiring. Extension material is suggested, but not support material for the low attainer. The 10 sections cover two sections: Numbers and the Number System, and Calculations. The aims of this resource are very well met by the materials and are well worth using.
Although the video clips in Learning Mathematics through Discussion deal with post-16 students, this resource also provides valuable material for use in secondary schools. The materials would help motivate the intermediate candidate in the learning of algebra. The video could be used by the individual teacher to see how the methods suggested work with students, or as the basis for faculty INSET. The quality of the material provided is excellent: as well as full teaching notes explaining the philosophy behind the research and methodology, there are excellent resource sheets (in pdf format) and spreadsheet activities on the CD-Rom. This includes the teaching material for 10 lessons varying from one to three hours each (suggested total 17 hours) and 40 minutes of video clips. These outline the three activities used.
It is a pity that the CD-Rom does not run on a Mac as well as a PC, and that the formulas in the spreadsheet activities have to be entered as spreadsheet algebra rather than in the conventional sense. However, these spreadsheet activities are fun to use, and having them provided saves lots of time thinking up one's own! The resource is based on Malcolm Swan's research in removing barriers to learning mathematics and provides excellent value for money. Get it and use it. PR