Thursday, July 17, 2008

Mathematics Texts

There are many mathematics texts currently available and many undergoing change subject to new courses being introduced next year. We have had a good look at those available for year 10 and can say the following:

Mathszone3: Great support materials to create tests and quiz's. Great worked examples at the start of each chapter, Pretests are ok and most chapters need some form of supplemental activities and can be a little narrow. It covers most areas but notably absent is a detailed coverage of quadratics. It's our primary text and aimed at intermediate students. Homework books require coursework to be completed in the order of the text. Good identification of terms required for each chapter.

Maths for WA3: Generally much more comprehensive in the level of its activities than Mathszone3. Homework book more useable when changing order from text. Generally worked examples not as clear as Mathszone. Has been the preferred text of many of the advanced students as the learning curve is steeper than Mathszone3.

Mathquest3: One of the earlier texts aimed at the curriculum framework. Very bright and user friendly but has a tendency to dump the teacher in it if they are not careful and review every block of questions. On more than a few occassions I had to stop the class and teach a bit that was not obviously needed from a quick skim of the chapter and reading the examples. Homework book is ok, but would not be first preference.

Nelson Maths3: It's hard to put the finger on what is wrong with Nelson maths, but we did not use it much when delving through material for this year's course. It was used a bit in the lower school but to some degree they have now moved to MathsforWA1 and my understanding is that they use Nelson as a supplementary text.

Understanding Mathematics (2,3,4): Well written and logical in sequence with outcomes clearly marked on each page - although not up to the publishing standards of the other three texts (the colour glossy pictures and other frippery are missing). We've used Understanding Mathematics effectively when we're looking for activities for students to show understanding, especially with lower ability groups.

And a special mention to the Excel Algebra series. (I can hear the critics now)... I know the space available in the workbook isn't enough to complete working properly, it lacks depth in places and is a commercially driven product but simple algebra issues can be resolved by sending a copy of the book home and letting parents work through the book with their kids (there's worked examples for each question). Anything that empowers parents to my mind is great.

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