Software Review – Junior Science 1 (& 2 & 3)

junior science 1, 2 & 3Junior Science 1 provides teachers with a bank of over 150 interactive activities that have been designed to address objectives from the UK National Curriculum.

The theme is ‘Life and Living Processes and topics include: Life Processes, Humans and Other Animals, Green Plants, Variation and Classification, and Living Things and their environment. Each topic has a list of tasks that can be assigned to individual students. There is also a reporting section where you can get information about the tasks that individual students have done.

When first using the software, students can select their name from a list if the teacher has created a list or they can create a new name. This means that teachers don’t have to create classes and nominate activities for their students to be able to sue the software.

I sampled the Life Processes topic and the first task required me to drag words into one of two columns.

junior science task

In the second task I had to click in a box to enter or remove a tick and in the third task I had to read a short paragraph and answer a multiple choice question about it.

The final task I looked out required me to drag between two boxes to match processes.

The image below shows the student report for the tasks I did.

report

SUMMARY

Software to promote learning of science content. Teachers can create student accounts and select the activities that they want done. Student reports can then be viewed.

Recommended for Years 3-7.

Pros: a wide variety of tasks that teachers can select from. Most tasks are quite short. Easy to navigate and the screen is not cluttered.

While not in any ways brilliant, it would be better than no science at all. Boys who had an interest in science could find their own learning path through the software.

Cons: you’d need to work through the topic tasks in order to make sure that students had the knowledge to complete the tasks set. Not all tasks taught – some tasks assessed relying on prior knowledge.

Would get boring after a while.

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Software Review – FasttMaths

fasttmaths

FasttMaths has been on the school network for 3-4 years and we have just upgraded to the latest version. There isn’t really anything new in it, but it has meant that the old data (ie names of teachers, classes and boys) is no longer available.

It can be found in the “Local Computer Programs” folder on the desktop.

There are two modules: (1) FasttMaths – Manager:- this is where teachers can create a class and then add students to it; (2) FasttMaths – Student:- this is the application that students use.

Once you set up a class and add students to it you then choose the operation that you want either the whole class or individual boys to work on (see image below).

processes

The first time a student uses FasttMaths it tests their typing speed (to see how familiar they are with finding numbers on the keyboard) and then it will assess their proficiency of the chosen operation. This may take two sessions.

Once the assessment is complete FasttMaths shows a grid of the facts that the student knows (these are fast facts) and then targets the facts the student isn’t as fast on. This is done in a sequence and can take quite a long time to fully complete – depending on individual skills.

Each session will target a small number of facts and revisit ones that are already fast. Then the student is able to play some games that reinforce those facts.

A session should last about 5-7 minutes and needs to be fully completed for progress to be monitored by the software. The software will not allow a student to do more than one session per day.

Teachers can access a range of data on each boy to monitor progress. A summary of a student’s fast facts can be printed any stage so that growth can be seen.

SUMMARY

Development of automatic response to the four processes in mathematics.

Teachers will need to set up a class name and add students.

Students can be set different tasks.

Progress is managed by the software.

Recommended for Years 1-7. Daily use is advised. Students need to know what the processes mean before they try to memorise them.

Pros: once you’ve set up the class and chosen the operation FastMaths takes care of the rest.

Cons: at times some boys seem to think that they aren’t making progress and are continually repeating the same facts. May not have time to rotate boys on a daily basis.

Expensive for a network licence.

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