If you teach primary maths today then count yourself lucky. The range of resources for teaching learners aged 4-11 has never been better, especially for those embryonic learners of maths who might take longer than most to conceptualise how all the bits fit together. Aladdin’s Caves are here, there and everywhere and many house creative maths treasures that offer a wealth of activities, insights and support.
One treasure chest worth its weight in gold is Collins New Primary Maths: Assisting Maths. This is a specially designed intervention programme that will comfortably sit alongside whatever you might already be using. It provides excellent classroom support in meeting the needs of individuals or small groups of children who are not attaining age-related expectations.
The series is made up of six Teaching Guides and Discussion Books, one for each year group from Y1 to Y6. Each year group consists of 12 units which admirably cover key objectives and areas of maths commonly identified as domains of difficulty. The objectives are taken from the relevant year group of the PNS Framework (2006) and these are further broken down into a number of specific unit foci, which are planned for highly focused teaching and learning. They consist of a series of individual, paired and small group activities and follow the cycle of: review and assess, teach, practice, apply, review and assess. You can also track back through the curriculum to cover related objectives from the Framework for the previous two years. What a time-saver!
The Teaching Guides are extremely well written by an experienced and respected author who knows his stuff. Planning a unit should be a doddle using these guides because it’s all there on a plate. What I really like is the way the teaching notes have been structured and the way they give you a real sense of purpose and confidence. It would be an insult to call these resources off-the shelf. This isn’t fastfood maths. Take your time to read, to chew and to digest what’s on offer. These aren’t lessons for gulping.
This is a programme that has been prepared with a real attention to detail and comes served without thumb-prints on the plate. The units are reliably consistent with very clear and purposeful notes. They contain assessing for intervention criteria, specific learning foci, background information, vocabulary, prerequisites for learning, assessing for learning ideas, suggestions for extra support if errors and misconceptions still exist and next steps in learning for those ready to move on. But that’s not all. The unit notes then go on to show a suggested teaching cycle full of practical ideas, games and activities with helpful simplifications and extensions built in should you need them. It’s all on CD-ROM too including all the teaching guide notes, copymasters, group monitoring forms and pupil self-assessment forms. This is Michelin Maths.
Alongside the Teaching Guides you have bright, colourful and cheery discussion books. These contain real-life photos and cool illustrations and they are fun to use. My only gripe is the absence of discussion questions and food for thought discussion points in the actual books though. It’s obvious that there is plenty to talk about and there are obvious discussion points up for grabs but I would have preferred to have seen powerful thinking questions actually written in for children to stop, pause and digest themselves. This would have provided real opportunity for tapping into peer discussion.
This incredibly well-planned and thought out resource is a winner and deserves a five star rating as a whole package. It’s value for money and deserves our attention as a quality set of resources for mathematical intervention.