My horoscope said that Wednesday’s eclipse of the moon in Libra meant that a turning point in my emotional life was written in the stars. Well, my horoscope was right, because today I’m feeling rather happy, all thanks to a new five-star resource that has just come my way.
Rising Stars Mathematics is a wide-ranging teaching and learning series for the entire primary school that contains all the gubbins you need for the new maths curriculum. It adapts the best teaching and learning strategies and approaches from the UK, Shanghai and Singapore to help children develop maths mastery.
Great textbooks need to speak to children, engage them, motivate and teach them, and these do exactly that. There is a sizeable full-colour book for each year group, and every chapter features child characters who introduce and discuss common misconceptions – pitching their ideas, which in turn snowball further thinking and discussion. This creates a friendly feel to the books while also offering rich opportunities for mathematical talk and learning conversations. Each concept chapter includes a box-out stating which resources you will need, followed by clear and accessible explanations with accompanying practice sections and think boxes.
There are handy Teacher’s Guide notes and pointers tucked away unobtrusively at the bottom of the pages, and practice activities range from bare practice to practice in context – before moving on to open-ended investigations. Interspersed through every unit in the textbooks there are also some fun conceptual games, and you get essential review sections with ‘Did you know?’ snippets and a glossary.
These Textbooks are, in essence, teaching books for both pupil and teacher. And to help further there are write-in practice books that provide carefully structured activities for all the concepts covered, offering plenty of consolidation for developing and embedding understanding. You also get 84 expansion activities presented as homework sheets to explore maths further.
But Rising Stars has plenty more to offer besides the textbooks. The Teacher’s Guides are strong, well-written resources that offer rigorous support. You won’t find any scripted lesson planning (which is easily over-relied upon and can suck all the creativity out of a lesson) but you will find magnificent guidance and a comprehensive structure, underpinned by a concrete-pictorial-abstract approach to learning.
The Teacher’s Guides have plenty to give with unit-by-unit double-page spreads that go into the fine detail you need to confidently deliver the programme, covering prior learning; making connections; things to talk and think about; ideas for engaging and exploring; and checking understanding. These prefix the concept pages, which focus more on background knowledge, modelling and teaching, practice, follow-up ideas and answers. It’s all here and masterfully written with an expert eye – right down to the planning grids and steps for learning.
The digital resources are a key component of the Rising Stars package, which includes digital versions of the Teacher’s Guides and Textbooks – all enhanced with some delightful animations to bring concepts further to life. There is also the bountiful Teacher Toolkit, which is ideal for modelling concepts on the whiteboard, and an excellent collection of CPD videos for you to sample.
On top of all this there are a variety of other resources including glossaries, and links to research papers.
Rising Stars Mathematics provides coherence, presenting the work in a connected and consistent manner, using a logical step-by-step approach. In total they provide ample support for the progression of technical fluency and conceptual understanding with lots of opportunities for intelligent practice.
I’ve always fancied doing a Banksy, well, the educational equivalent anyway. I don’t mean painting a picture on the side of the school of the headmaster behind bars, but leaving a set of resources in the staffroom overnight to be found the next morning, with no one knowing where they have come from. All they would know is that they had been Resource Banksied. I’d start my campaign with Rising Stars Mathematics because it’s a resource that ticks all the right boxes and will get everyone talking. Cost-wise, a complete school package will cost £2,000, which I think represents excellent value for such a well-kitted-out, creative and skilled programme written with careful consideration as to how children learn maths.