Why it pays to be a self-starter

Whether it's a mock version of Countdown or a revision tool, the latest resources provide light relief for hard-pressed teachers, says Peter Ransom

eStarters for Mathematics CD-Rom Single user pound;195 (+ VAT), site licence pound;495 (+ VAT) from Promethean Tel: 0870 241 3194 Email: info@prometheanworld.com


Vital Statistics CD-Rom site licence pound;175 (+ VAT), network licence Pounds 325 (+ VAT) from Cambridge-Hitachi, Tel: 01223 325 588 Email: educustserve@cambridge.org


Instant Maths Ideas for Key Stage 3 - Number and Algebra by Colin Foster Pounds 19.95 from Nelson Thornes Tel: 01242 267267 www.nelsonthornes.com

Demathtifying: Demystifying Mathematics by Ilan Samson pound;10.95 from QED Books Tel: 01494 772 973 www.mathsite.co.uk

Described as a presentationteaching resource for use with interactive whiteboards in a classroom environment, eStarters can be used in a variety of situations - not just starter activities.

The resource could be used for revision purposes, as an introduction to the main activity or as the basis of a plenary session. The content covers over a third of the National Curriculum from level 3 upwards.

It's a real pity I did not have this to use with my Year 11 pupils before their mocks, as it would have made some of the number and algebra revision sessions more fun.

The eStarters CD-Rom is absolutely fantastic. It loaded first time and I was mesmerised by the wealth of resources. It does require the use of Excel, however, so you need to have that installed.

I found it very intuitive and a delight to use and my pupils were fascinated by it. There are plenty of colours used and the text is large and easily visible. The Countdown activity simulates the game together with a clock that can be used for 30, 45 or 60 seconds.

It was created within the maths department of Trinity High School in Hulme, Manchester and those responsible know how to produce material that looks appealing to both teacher and learner.

Vital Statistics is very much like a textbook in electronic form but without all the questions. It was easy to load and run and would be of use to the single learner who wants notes about the topics and some practice questions that are marked by a machine.

I found it only slightly interactive (there was no opportunity to change the questions on the screen if I wanted to repeat a question type), and the colours were rather drab and boring. There are some nice interactive pieces but these are too few and far between.

The CD-Rom covers the topics and knowledge for the Foundation GCSE Statistics and beyond, but there is too much reading for Foundation level pupils. The work is supported by a small set of worksheets that have been poorly proofread. This is not the quality that I have come to expect from Cambridge.

Number and Algebra in the "Instant Maths Ideas for Key Stage 3 Teachers" series is one of a series of three books that claim to not only save time but allow you to take them into the classroom and use immediately. Reading through the book I was pleasantly surprised at the number of ideas (old and new) it contained. Do not think that you could be reading it as you enter the classroom however - some ideas do need some preparation. The ideas are topic-based, not level-based so you can chose whatever activity you feel is most appropriate.

Some of the photocopiable pages involving co-ordinate axes are rather crude. The author encourages the reader to make notes in the book by crossing out what they are not likely to use and adding extra ideas andor annotating the work. The other two books in the series are Shape and Space and Data, Numeracy and ICT. There is a reasonable selection of numeracy ideas, some of which cross the curriculum.

Demathtifying: demystifying mathematics is supposed to give a simple and complete explanation of the reasons behind each concept and operation across the whole of school maths. I felt rather confused at the end of this with all the language and notation that was used.

If a child could understand this book then it would not need it in the first place. However the website promoting it (www.mathsite.co.uk) is worth visiting for the vast range of very good mathematical products available.

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