Reviews: Digital learning titles

Evaluations supplied by Schoolzone, an independent body that asks teachers to evaluate digital learning titles
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Primary Progress Toolkit
Statistics for Education
KS1, KS2

The Primary Progress Toolkit is designed to help teachers manage and analyse all the school, pupil performance and national data they have to deal with. The toolkit delivers an easy-to-use data manipulation facility, with strong visual presentation. It allows you to tailor your searches and assemble your most useful data for analysis and report. Its strong colour-coded scheme makes the process of analysis and report very easy.

Groovy City
Sibelius Software Ltd

The third instalment in the Groovy Music series of programmes for primary school children, Groovy City helps children learn about and create music in a futuristic cityscape. Designed for nine to 11-year-olds, Groovy City delves deeper into music notation. Children are also introduced to question-and-answer phrases and the blues scale, so they can begin to build more sophisticated compositions. The composing environment has a cartoon-like interface and revolves around a pupil's avatar (on-screen character) moving along a city street. Musical phrases and sounds are represented by graphical shapes, and are dragged from a toolbar at the top of the screen onto the cityscape. Placing the symbols higher or lower on the screen determines their pitch and harmony. As the avatar passes beneath the symbols, the corresponding music is triggered, thus creating musical pieces.

Joseph! – Joseph's Coat of Many Colours
Magic Parrot Productions

This is an accessible musical for primary schools, approximately 55 minutes long. The price of £37.50 includes a CD, a script, a score and a performance licence. Joseph! – Joseph's Coat of Many Colours is a musical play for Key Stage 2 and 3 pupils. It is a wonderfully refreshing children's version of the classic tale and musical – Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat. The pupil-friendly script and music should become a well-used and much-loved version of this popular story. From the melodic and catchy songs, to the well-balanced and easily readable script, this 55-minute production enthuses and encourages children to present a high-quality piece of theatre to parents and the wider community. For a modest cost, the package is available (via download) for up to three performances in a school or club setting.

Flipchart Builder Extension Activities for Activprimary
Early Years, Foundation, KS1, KS2

Created for teachers of all subject areas and age groups, Flipchart Builder Extension Activities has been developed to aid digital lesson creation. Designed for use with Activprimary 3, the extension activities pack contains over 300 fully customisable, click and edit page templates and activities. The advantage of using the extension software is that it allows teachers to customise the product to fully meet the needs of individual classes and groups of children. It is therefore ideal for personalised learning, which is essential in today's learning climate. Also, it provides teachers with up-to-date, interactive resources, saving time spent planning and searching for resources that meet the needs of a changing curriculum.

Captain Cook's TuckBox – children's cookery software
KS1, KS2, KS3

Captain Cook's Tuckbox is a varied resource aimed to support the cookery elements of the KS1 & KS2 design and technology curriculum. All materials are available from a CD-ROM, which can be used on an individual basis or loaded onto a school network. The title is described as the "Number 1" cookery programme for children and is intended to be used by students as well as by teachers to support lesson delivery. The resource contains 192 recipes for children aged 5 and upwards, together with a host of supporting resources, including video examples of children cooking, healthy eating ideas, material on nutrition, hygiene and foods and cooking terms. Let the parrot, Captain Cook help your students prepare some interesting recipes and menus as you all work towards healthy eating.

Nessy Fingers Touch Typing
NET Educational Systems
KS2, KS3

Nessy Fingers is a touch-typing course for children, set in the land of Ness. They learn to type in five short lessons by learning the keys in alphabetical order. After learning each group of letters, children can play fun games to reinforce the position of those letters on the keyboard. Each game has nine difficulty levels, from "Tortoise" (four words per minute) to "Lightning fingers", which enables children of all abilities to succeed. It includes progressive curriculum words and sentences to improve spelling and punctuation. Special features include typing with your own word lists and music. This is one of the best typing programmes out there and it really encourages children to want to learn.

Medicine and Health Through Time Network Edition 1
Hodder Education

Powered by Dynamic Learning, this CD-ROM revolutionises the delivery of the medicine course for any GCSE specification. CD-ROM 1: People & Periods enlivens your teaching and aids students' understanding of developments period by period. Based on a chronological approach, it takes each of the historical periods within the Medicine and Health Through Time syllabus and breaks them down into a series of key questions, events or accomplishments relevant to that period.

RightClick Spelling
Heinemann Secondary

RightClick Spelling presents online support designed to diagnose students' strengths and weaknesses, engages students with interactive learning, and helps them improve at their own pace. Ideal for improving functional skills! It aims to identify pupils' weak areas and bring about improvements through independent practice. To this end, diagnostic spelling tests identify an individual's weaknesses and address these by demonstrating spelling rules and offering interactive practice. Overall, the product is interesting and pupils enjoy the high level of interactivity, but it is not a fully comprehensive tool for teaching spelling. Tests and activities are provided relating to vowels, plurals, prefixes, suffixes, common letter patterns, punctuation, misspellings, homophones and subject specific key words. Some sections of this are more successful than others and the inclusion of punctuation in a spelling programme was a surprise.

www.true; RE focus
True Tube
KS3, KS4, 16+

True Tube is that rare beast in education: a new idea. Essentially, it is a website that offers thought and discussion-provoking videos dealing with a wide range of issues of interest to young people. The content generally fits under the "citizenship" umbrella, but there is also strong curriculum content for English and RE. Forums, discussion areas, video editing and posting tools form an important part of the package. It encourages users to think, engage with others' ideas and speak out on issues that matter to them. The site provides short films on issues to start a debate, inspires involvement, provides information and promotes further research. It also enables users to upload their own films in response to what they have viewed. Consequently, it provides learners with access to a range of engaging and authentic voices and ideas and exposure to an audience for their work that extends beyond the classroom.

Texas Instruments
KS3, KS4, 16+, FE, HE

TI-Nspire is an ICT platform that offers a rich tool for personalised learning which can extend beyond the maths classroom. TI-Nspire was developed with major teacher input and combines software and a device that meets many of the demands of maths classrooms today. It is a very impressive piece of technology – essentially a handheld computer dedicated to maths and science. It has five main applications: calculator, graphs and geometry, data and statistics, lists and spreadsheets, and notes. And with the split screen facility, a page can have more than one application on it at the same time, linked to the same data. It is probably best suited to the A-level market but has the potential to be used further down the curriculum.

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