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Looking into Maths

  1. Published by Joyce Hull

  2. Maths

  3. KS4 and post 16

KS 3,4 & 5 Professional Review by Pete Garner

Your Professional Context
The title was reviewed on the basis it would be used to teach Mathematics in my Secondary School at Key Stages 3, 4 and 5. My school has a wide catchment area and a good spread of ability though we do not select the bottom 30 %. As a Head of Mathematics I reviewed the product with a view to its purchase and adoption by the department. My school has six Maths sets in each year. The school is located in a leafy suburban environment. The product is useable with years 9, 10 and 11 and has value for students in Years 12 and 13 who need extra support.

Students’ usage
The students could use it mainly by themselves as an independent method of revision and practice.
It could certainly be used in an IT suite. However, I feel it would be best used with a whiteboard as you could display notes demonstrating an example. You could choose an interactive problem and ask students to hold up their answer as you go through the work. The product could be used independently within a few minutes. Its use would need to be monitored to check the pupils stayed in the area you were interested in them investigating. There is a fair amount of written text which might initially cause concern to some students with Special Educational Needs.

Curriculum Focus
The program is designed to cover the Higher Tier GCSE curriculum, though it does not have any resources on Data handling and probability. It covers this vast area of the syllabus in sufficient depth and width for regular use. A teacher would use it on their whiteboard to introduce, provide notes and give an interactive whole-class practice vehicle. A motivated student could access it to revise and practise the same topics. It is quite wordy in its navigation and instructions but given the subject matter that is to be expected. The top end of our sets would also find some of the exercises very appropriate and challenging. I would see myself using the programme quite early in the teaching process. I would often use it to introduce the topic and also it could be employed to teach around most topics.

Value as a teaching resource
The resource has a great amount of depth and combines notes with interactive practice in one simple to navigate package. Although I have resources that have these features none can do all of them.
It has an easy- to-use navigation system which allows you to choose the parameters for your whole class practice which as very useful feature, especially when introducing, for example, negative numbers into the lesson.

The product will not wow you with eye candy but as day-to-day GCSE workhorse it will always offer opportunities to be used, as it covers so much of the curriculum. It provides clear examples for notes and offers sound questions for whole class interactive practice. It is easy to navigate around and has a huge depth.

The title is of significant benefit to all of those sets that are studying GCSE Mathematics and also for those wanting some assistance for A/S Mathematics. It will always add value to any lesson by having well thought out examples suitable for notes and a great vehicle for interactive practice.

The title is aimed at those studying GCSE Mathematics it covers the whole of the curriculum apart from Data Handling and probability. It provides the classroom teacher with the capability to:

  1. Explore the structured learning sequences, where each picture may be 'Clicked' to Step through the Maths, Explore a Topic, or watch a straightforward Animation.

  2. Possibly utilise the interactive question sessions, the results of which could be recorded for the user or teacher.

  3. Set some of paper and pencil exercises possibly displaying the answers.

It replaces the need to write laboriously on the board with your back to the class. It has the depth and width to be of use throughout the lesson. Unlike many resources it has lot of content and is easy and above all quick to navigate around. Definitely well worth further investigation!

KS4 Classroom Evaluation by Pete Garner

This evaluation focuses on the Exploring Algebra section of the maths range.

How I used this product in my classroom

  1. used with interactive whiteboard

  2. used by individuals

  3. used with whole class

  4. used as lesson starter

  5. used for revision purposes

The members of the class were seated in their normal order within the classroom. They were issued with a write on A5 board which they could use to answer questions during the lesson.

Then I utilised the software via the classroom's built in data projector and electronic whiteboard to investigate the topic and get the class involved in the topic. There were a few individual questions but generally all were able to get fully involved without further intervention.

At the end of the lesson we were able to use the software to go over what we had covered as part of our plenary.

Ease of use – Design and Navigation

  1. easy to use independently

  2. on-screen help is useful

  3. easy to save chosen elements and export

  4. logical progression of content

  5. search facilities operate logically

It takes a few clicks and a slight delay to get the package running but once it is open it is quick to run. To access the desired part of the software takes a small amount of practice to work out as there is only one clear route. If you get lost, which is unlikely, you just go back to the Contents page.
The pupils were able to participate in the learning as it presents the material very clearly via the data projector. The software has a central menu page from which all material can be accessed.
The relevant links are clearly labelled and were found to be easy to correctly operate. Though clearly a Teacher would need to visit the material before hand just to familiarise themselves with the approach taken and the next steps in the process.

Context of Use
The software fitted well into my lessons which currently involve preparing several classes for their Summer GCSE exams in Mathematics. It is suitable for use with all five Exam boards as it covers all the necessary algebraic material.

It thus needed very little preparation and introduction as it was being used as a revision exercise and in order to give a chance for the set to gain additional practice in some tricky topics.

When a subject area showed evidence of whole class weakness I am now in the habit of using the title to revisit the material to give the whole class practice in this topic area. At the same time I might be teaching the topic conventionally and with other resources.

Monitoring and Assessment
The software itself provides has a certain fixed inbuilt capactiy to monitor an individual students' progress as it is designed primarily for use by the teacher. This monitoring is in the form of a series of 50 odd sets of five multiple choice questions, that although are self marking, the student can email the results to the Teacher via Internet Explorer 5 or just copy and paste their results.
The questions are based around the topics listed on the contents page. Though it is very useful for more motivated students as a dynamic revision resource. Our numeracy support staff use the software now on a one to one basis as it helps significantly with their delivery, as well as a ready source of clear notes and exemplars.

The students that I have worked with using this software, stated that it was more interesting and motivating to be taught using this system rather than just using traditional pen on board techniques. They found it easier to take notes and some have even asked for it to be put on the student area of the network so that it could be used by them as a revision aid.

Some of my Colleagues have also started to incorporate it into their lessons. Their main motivation is the excellent set of notes it provides together with instant exercises that can be displayed on the board. It is certainly a help for a recently qualified colleague, as it leaves you more able to teach, by taking away the time absorbing problem of writing your own notes on the board. You also tend to avoid the teaching to yourself syndrome that is so easy to exhibit with Mathematics, as much less of your time is spent creating the material and more is on moving your class forward.

The package was installed on our school network and it was used as an alternative to traditional pen on board note and example creation. The class preferred the clarity of this medium and participated with a bit more enthusiasm than normal.

It was a well structured package that is quite straghtforward to use requiring very little prior familiarisation and even colleagues with limited IT skills have considered utilising it in the classroom. It gives you more time to monitor and control the class, as you are not on the back foot manually creating resouces at the board with your own concentration. You are thus in the more powerful position of being able to direct the learning of your class. The interactive questions were useful as a revision resource for students outside of the classroom.