Our Head of Maths is always getting flyers in her pigeon hole for
some new "indispensable" piece
of maths software or an "essential update"
for an existing one. These are often expensive, and with schools having
zero e-learning credits these days, the wrong choice could mean your
allocation is used up for the next couple of years, or money that
could be better spent elsewhere is wasted.
The aim of this section is to offer my opinion on some of the oodles
of maths software out there to hopefully help you to make an informed
If you are a developer and you have some software you would like me
to try out and review, or if there is an update to the software mentioned
here that you would like me to have a look at, then please contact
Please Note: Information about some of
the excellent free maths software out there, including Geogebra
and Tarsia Jigsaw, can be found on my
Essential Freebies page. Also, some of
my pricing information may be outdated as compaines change this all
the time. Please check the company's website for further details.
teachers' licence is £360, with an additional £80
to upgrade to a full site licence, or £160 for a full
VLE licence. there are also lots of special offers for those
wishing to purchase individual presentations.
you are looking to buy one package to get your department up
and running using interactive whiteboards or projectors, then
this should be it. I have whole heartedly recommended it in
the schools I have visited both in England and Australia, and
the feedback has been incredibly positive. Put simply, it is
a series of ready-made PowerPoint presentations covering the
entire Key Stage 2 to 4 syllabus.
But such a description does not do this piece of software justice.
The coverage of the three key stages is incredibly comprehensive,
with the latest version even offering 12 excellent presentations
on Functional Skills. Throughout
the presentations students are carefully and clearly introduced
to topics. They are shown exactly where formulae and concepts
come from by building up knowledge from first principles instead
of simply being told them. There are bucket-loads of questions
and worked solutions, with many of the presentations coming
with supporting worksheets to save time and focus learning.
Version 7 adds Functional Skills
to its growing repertoire, offering interesting and relevant
presentations on subjects as diverse as the Beijing Olympics
and the Humber Bridge. Then there are rich tasks in the form
of puzzles and investigations to challenge and intrigue the
most able. There is also an attempt to improve the coverage
of algebra, which in my opinion has been highly successful given
that it is not a topic that naturally lends itself to teaching
by PowerPoint. As ever, the GCSE and SAT BOOSTERS are a really
nice touch to aid revision, the superb enrichment files are
fantastic for engaging pupils in their maths and there is a
lot of scope here for use with gifted and talented students.
There are even lots of festive presentations to help you get
through what can be a nightmare time of year!
This software has also achieved what few other have done: and
that is to make PowerPoint both interactive and dynamic. Clever
use of animations and graphics make difficult topics more understandable
and bring them to life. The coverage of visually demanding topics,
such as loci and three dimensional space is particularly appealing
and really engages the students.
However, the software must be used sensibly and in the right
way in order to get the most out of it. You need to be aware
that this package generally gives you "more than you need"
within any presentation and that some of them are so comprehensive
and in-depth that your pupils will be in danger of information
overload and will naturally switch-off if you merely click-through
the slide-show from start to finish. It would be a pity if the
advantages gained by its use ended up being counter-balanced
by a reduction in attention and enjoyment.
So to get the most out of this package you may want to skip
ahead and omit slides here and there as you see fit. The presentations
are designed to be fully editable, and so with only the most
basic knowledge of PowerPoint, it is possible to take the features
you like from each presentation, and quickly integrate them
into your own, giving you the best of both worlds: ready-made
dynamic presentations that are tailored to suit both you and
your students needs.
I would unreservedly say that, along with Autograph, this is
the best maths package around. What will Version 8have in store?
For an additional 8 free sample
files, click here
Virtual Textbook is a series of fancy Excel spreadsheets designed
to remove the need for textbooks in the classroom. Each spreadsheet
can generate an infinite number of questions on each subject,
with the answers only a click away. Many spreadsheets also have
the option to reveal certain parts of the answer one at a time,
which is useful. It is a nice idea and the speed at which the
questions appear on screen keeps the pupils focused and on task.
This package is also one of the few available that covers the
A level syllabus, and some of the Statistics spreadsheets are
very, very impressive.
My major complaints are the price and that some of the questions
are a little bit samey. They don't contain the variety of questions
you get in the exam, and do not really develop pupils' thinking
skills. Students become in danger of simply memorising the process
without actually understanding why, and this could cause them
to get tripped up in exams when questions my come from a slightly
different angle. This is both the strength and weakness of Excel
based software that generates random questions. However, as
a revision tool or a way of setting questions and giving immediate
feedback, this is a decent package.
For some free samples
from Key Stages 1 & 2, Key Stages 3 & 4 and A/AS Level,
software is similar to virtual textbook in the sense that it
is also excel based and makes use of the random number function
to generate a potentially infinite number of questions. However,
I believe this software is much better. The coverage spans the
whole of the Key Stage 3 curriculum (and most of Key Stage 4),
and each activity is leveled so both you and your pupils know
exactly what degree of difficulty they are working at. The vast
majority of the questions come with the option to reveal one
line of working at a time which will help any pupils who are
struggling. The Geometry section is particularly impressive,
bringing a degree of interactivity to excel which certainly
surprised me, and as such has the potential to convey difficult
topics in a very clear way. I still believe that excel based
software must be used carefully and has to be supplemented by
other types of questions, but this is certainly the best of
user licences are £59, with extended licences for all
teachers and students in large schools being £650.
is brilliant. Simple as that. I'd even go so far as to describe
it as an essential teaching aid. There is no simpler or better
way to draw and investigate graphs, both in 2D and 3D, whether
it be for whole class demonstration or to create worksheets.
The software can also be used to investigate angles, transformations,
vectors and many other topics. The statistical package is extremely
strong, creating every statistical diagram imaginable and being
fully compatible with Excel. Version 3.3 even allows you to
export Autograph pages to the web. Every now and again it plots
a funny cumulative frequency curve, but apart from that I can't
fault it. There is also great potential to use it as a tool
of independent learning. The only sad thing is that it is often
underused in school, but that is why I have put some tutorials
on this website here, and
some videos here
user licence is £75, with an unlimited school network
licence being £475
is almost as good as Autograph. I have not come across a better
way to teach transformations, circle theorems, loci, or lots
of other topics under the shape and space umbrella. Like Autograph,
it is an excellent tool of demonstration, and can be adapted
to be a very powerful investigative tool of independent learning.
The only reason it has not reached the dizzy heights of 5 stars
is that it is a bit tricky to use, and whilst the basics are
easy enough to pick up, unless you are an expert, or know someone
who is, it is pretty tricky to unlock all of GSP's secrets and
get the most out of it. I have put some tutorials here,
and there are plenty of resources on GSP throughout the website.
Give it a go, it is well worth it.
per CD (includes VAT) with a minimum order of 25 per school.
Site licence costs £299 for first year, then £199
after that. Any school that orders over 25 CDs gets a free set
CDs are simply amazing. They can be used in the classroom for
whole class revision, or better still taken home by individual
students to use on their own computer. The Higher Tier CD (A*
- D) covers 140 topics, and the Foundation CD (C - G) covers
134. Each topic is presented as a video clip and is revised
just like a teacher would on the interactive whiteboard. Indeed,
I have played a couple of clips to my GCSE students, and they
prefer the presenters voice to mine! The coverage is extremely
comprehensive and the explanations are crystal clear. At £3
per pupil they compare favorably to standard revision books,
and students are likely to thrive on an alternative form of
If all that wasn't enough, the CD also contains 183 worksheets
linked to the video clips. Students can print them off and use
them for homeworks or revision (only the teacher is given the
fully worked solutions!) There is also a 50 essential questions
feature, and the creators last year kindly analysed Paper 1
from the 4 exam boards and within 24 hours had posted the topics
which were most likely to appear on Paper 2! This is a truly
excellent product which just keeps on getting better!
For free samples
of the video clips or the worksheets, just follow the links
on the left hand side of the homepage
stages 3 and 4 cost £999 each, with a level setting you
get straight to the point. I don't like Boardworks. I think
it got into the educational software market early, and has made
good use of it's market leader position and strong brand name,
but now there are a lot better and a lot cheaper alternatives
around, and Boardworks has not responded. Whiteboard maths does
pretty much everything Boardworks can do, plus it covers more
topics, plus it's loads cheaper, plus - and for me this is the
most important thing - Whiteboard maths is fully editable. Many
of the presentations in boardworks are not editable, which is
frustrating and in my opinion can make for very inflexible,
I know of other teachers who are big fans of Boardworks, and
who enjoy the fact that the some of the presentations are un-editable,
arguing that they make excellent interactive starters and plenaries
Of course, everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but personally,
I think your money is better spent elsewhere.
for the Key Stage 3 maths CD, or £30 for an update if
you have bought one of the last two editions
brilliant piece of software. Has all past SATs paper questions
on it, with the corresponding mark scheme, all leveled, and
all easily accessible. This enables you to, for example, quickly
compile a set of Level 6 questions on fractions, come up with
a quick starter or plenary, or design your own internal exam
paper. Questions can easily be imported into Word, and the software
as a whole is extremely user friendly. The only slight downside
is that you need to update the software every couple of years
or so to get the latest questions, but the producers do offer
a discount for updates. A must buy!
years I was waiting for this, and then it finally arrived. After
a series of poor imitations, somebody designed a "Testbase
for GCSE". It does all of the above, but with oodles of
graded GCSE questions. This has saved me so much time. As well
as needing to be constantly updated, the only other problem
with this software is that it is not currently available for
all exam boards. This does not matter too much as there is not
that much variation between syllabuses, but it does mean you
need to be on your toes when choosing questions.
are excellent. The are a whole series of mathematical worksheets
covering individual year groups, all SATs levels, and the new
two-tier GCSE syllabus. Each worksheet is leveled or graded
and solutions are provided. I tend to use these worksheets as
homeworks, as on each worksheet there tends to be plenty of
practice of the basic skills as well as more exam-style questions.
The fact that they are in pdf format also makes there use on
the interactive whiteboard a breeze. A really nice alternative/compliment
to the maths textbook.
complete Key Stage 3 is £200, GCSE is £350, A Level
is £300. There are various options to buy single packages,
and 40 and 100 user upgrades. Click here
for more information.
the creators of the simply amazing Kenny's
Pouch, comes Bring on the Maths. This interactive software
covers all three secondary key stages and comprises of matching
activities on grids. It sounds fairly basic, but the simplicity
of this software and the careful selection of questions are
the key. The activities highlight crucial misconceptions at
all levels, and as such encourage both group work and lively
class discussion. These activities are ideal for starters or
plenaries, and the ability to download and then print the activities
out as worksheets makes them perfect for homeworks, and good
revision material. The a level stuff in particular is very impressive.
My only slight concern is the price which I can't help but feel
is a little on the steep side. However, if you can afford it,
then you certainly won't be disappointed.
For free samples
of the activities, just click here
on the number of pupils in the school, but ranges from £70
to £245 per package. There are discounts for buying more
than one package
software is designed for use on interactive whiteboards. There
are currently five packages available, mainly covering the number
and shape aspects of the key stage 3 and 4 curriculum. The software
was originally designed for children with special needs, but
it is also useful for mainstream and younger pupils. The software
is built around the idea of matching things, whether it be equivalent
fractions, or a number of coins to their monetary total, and
the difficulty of each exercise can be varied by altering things
such as time, number or options, or limits. It is probably more
suited to Smart Boards than Prometheans as this means pupils
can use their fingers to select the answers rather than the
pen. I like this software, but my only complaint is that because
only one or two pupils can have a go at one time, it is only
really suitable for teaching small groups. I have used it as
a starter or a plenary where the pupils must answer a "qualifying
question" to have a go. Also, be aware, the packages vary
greatly in their content and difficulty. For example, package
4 has lots in it, and can be made quite challenging, whereas
package 3 consists only of telling the time and counting money.
To request a free trail CD,
follow the link on the left
1 (just A/S) is £39 for a single user licence, or £150
for a site licence. There are 3 volumes in total, and a discount
is offered for purchasing more than one.
is the Whiteboard Maths of A Level. It is a series of PowerPoint
files that covers the whole of the A Level course. Volume 1
is A/S, Volume 2 is A2, and Volume 3 is Statistics. The coverage
and detail are extremely impressive, and once again if you are
looking to introduce some ICT into A Level teaching, then there
is no better single package around. But once again, be warned
- the coverage on each slide is so comprehensive that it can
be overwhelming for students if they are merely clicked through.
Slowing the presentations down is one way to get around this.
Better still, get to grips with PowerPoint and begin editing
the slides for yourself, and building in the best features into
your own presentations, then you can have the lessons you want
without having to spend hours designing them. Either way, this
is still a top class a level package!
secondary school site licence is £420, or £250 (plus
entry fee and anual update of around £50) if the school
takes part in the excellent Jaguar Challenge!
used correctly, this piece of software is simply brilliant.
Put simply, it is a maths project running over a number of lessons
in which pupils (usually working in pairs) design a racing car,
put together a race plan, decide how much fuel they need, account
for the weather, and then eventually race. There is so much
good maths hidden away in here, it is untrue. The latest version
contains aspects of angles, estimation, trigonometry, volume
and so much more, although components can be added or taken
away easily depending on the ability and age of the class. I
have seen this project work successfully with top set Year 10s
and bottom set Year 8s. We have run it as a lunchtime club,
or as project to do after summer exams. There is also the opportunity
to enter a team into the Jaguar Challenge regional and national
finals, which can provide a good incentive. Whilst the software
may seem expensive, when compared to other software out there,
and considering the potential benefits, I believe it is worth
it. Be warned, this software can be little tricky to get into
until you get used to it, and pupils and teachers can become
frustrated rather quickly. My advice would be to study the accompanying
CD Rom carefully and work through it as a department. If all
else fails book the designers to come in for a demonstration
day, and get some older computer whiz-kid pupils involved. Either
way, don't give up, because this is the most excited about maths
that I have ever seen children.
know this may sound a wee bit dramatic, but I cannot tell your
how much MyMaths has improved my life. With teachers' workloads
increasing at a seemingly exponential rate, this is simply a
gift from the Gods.
On MyMaths it is possible to select carefully constructed, leveled/graded
homeworks for pupils across Key Stages 3 and 4. The students
can then log onto the website from home or from the school's
library, complete the homework online, whereby it is then promptly
marked by MyMaths and delivered to you along with the results
from the entire class allowing easy comparison and analysis
of any areas of difficulty. Better still, the pupils have the
option to self evaluate how they found the work, and next to
each online homework is an accompanying lesson, thus promoting
a bit of independent learning as well as providing an excellent
revision tool and a simple means of catching up for any pupils
who may miss a lesson or two. On top of this there are various
Booster Packs to help pupils get from Level 3 to 4, or Grade
D to C, or A to A*. There is even an A Level section in development.
My only criticism is a very small one. Once a student has submitted
a piece of homework, it is not possible for the teacher to actually
view their individual answers, just a breakdown of which questions
they picked up or lost marks. Hence, it is sometimes a little
difficult to pin-point exactly where pupils are going wrong.
But overall I would describe MyMaths as an absolute must purchase
for any school.
Click the links on the homepage for some free samples, to register
for a free 14 day trial or to take a guided tour!
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