In this blog, I ask the authors of OCR Core Maths A and B (MEI) to give us the lowdown on the features of this new textbook and explain why it will appeal to students and teachers alike.
OCR Core Maths A and B (MEI) has been authored by Heather Davis, Stella Dudzic, Sophie Goldie, Bob Hartman and Roger Porkess. It will be published by Illuminate Publishing on 16 August 2021.
To access a sample chapter and to find out more about the authors, visit Illuminate Publishing.
Stella: From time to time, teachers have asked whether there is a book available, so it has been really exciting to be able to work with Illuminate Publishing to provide one. We already have online resources available, but a book can be used anywhere – no internet connection or printing needed.
Sophie: I was very excited to be given the opportunity to write for the new Core Maths book as Core Maths is such an innovative and unique course. As a teacher you are often asked ‘what is the point of doing this? When would I ever use this in real life?’ In Core Maths every topic has a real-life application so that students are able to see how they will be able to use the mathematics they are learning in their future careers.
Bob:I wanted to propagate the more progressive ideas behind Core Maths in a hopefully effective, interesting and accessible manner to the relevant learners.
Roger: I’ve always been committed to making maths accessible to people who need it in their other subjects, their everyday lives and in the workplace. I was delighted to have the opportunity to instigate and work on the report A world full of data for the Royal Statistical Society (2013) and working on the textbook is not just a logical progression from that but something that I really wanted to do.
Heather: The worked examples provide support for the techniques required and the activities allow students to explore the ideas. It’s easy for teachers to adapt these as they become more confident in teaching the course. So, work through the book as given first time through, then wander a bit in subsequent years following the interests of teacher and students.
Stella: There are activities throughout the book to introduce new concepts. Teachers may find these useful as lesson starters and there are also questions for students to test their understanding.
Sophie: Every section of the book has a really engaging activity for students to think about and discuss, and these activities really set the tone of the book. They are a great way to give a sense of purpose for a topic and to spark the students’ interest. The Teacher’s Guide Notes will also be handy as they give full worked solutions and some extra guidance.
Bob: The chapters and sections are arranged clearly and logically and use direct language and graphics. Each section has a brief introduction, activity or discussion point, worked examples and questions for students. At the close of each chapter are questions on its content and an exam style question.
Roger: The book is designed to motivate students who have little underlying interest in mathematics. Teachers will find it particularly helpful that it uses contexts that students will recognise as being relevant to themselves and their other subjects.
Heather: The questions allow students to see the relevance of maths for their other courses. Students can use it as a reference for techniques and the style of interpretation that might be needed.
Stella: Worked examples with full explanations will help students to check their understanding.
Sophie: The book relates maths to other subjects that a student may be studying such as geography, business studies or psychology. There are clear worked examples with callouts that provide extra support, and short exercises on each section so there are plenty of opportunities for students to practise their new skills.
Bob: The main features are clarity, directness and being treated as mature students – not mere receptacles of content. Thought has been given to the current mathematical needs of students in terms of subjects they may be taking.
Roger: The various elements in the specification are introduced through contexts that students will find interesting and relate to their other subjects and their lives.
Stella: There are lots of ways to use the book. Some teachers might use the activities to introduce new topics, others might want the questions to give their students practice.
Sophie: I think it’s really important to make the time to discuss and work through the activities that underpin the learning in each section.
Bob: I would suggest using it as the spine resource – but to accept that students will have had a very varied set of “pre-Core Maths” experiences. This obviously will determine the starting point and route through the book. Based on individual circumstances and needs, there will obviously be a need to occasionally make use of external resources such as those provided by MEI and OCR. In addition, use the activity points in each unit as genuine discussion points – don’t gloss over them, these are essential starting/learning points.
Roger: This book gives the students transferrable skills. A common complaint of those teachers participating in the research for “A world full of data” was that although students could do the sums if they appeared in a GCSE Maths exam paper they were flummoxed if they met the same things elsewhere. The way this book is written is designed to overcome that gap. It will encourage a way of thinking that sees applying maths to any situation as an entirely natural thing to do.
Stella: The book has been written so that students can work through it from start to finish to develop their understanding and skills. The sections relevant to each of the Core Maths papers are clearly indicated so students can use the book for revision as well as for initial learning.
Sophie: Cover up the solutions to the worked examples and then try and answer them without looking at the solutions. Reveal a line at a time if you need a hint or can’t see a way forward. Go to your college or school library and work through any activities or questions that involve spreadsheets so that you really get to understand how they work. You learn maths by doing, not just by reading it!
Bob: It’s essential that students read through (not skim) the activities as they are designed to bring out important points.
Roger: Students should work through each section including doing the exercise questions. They should check the answers in the back of the book and if necessary, go to the online support resource as well.
Heather: For teachers new to teaching Core Maths it provides a framework and exemplar activities that they can use straight away. They can be reassured that working through the book will give students a positive experience and that it covers all of the material for the exam.
Roger: Although the book covers the specification of the OCR (MEI) Core Maths course it does much more than that. It opens up an approach to the subject which can benefit many more students than those on that particular course. Success will consist not just in gaining good marks in the Core Maths exam but in making more sense of other subjects and so doing better in them.
Stella: Tim Harford’s book, How to Make the World Add Up goes through many examples of the kinds of situations where Core Maths type thinking is useful. It’s also an interesting read.
Roger: Students should be alert for the maths that they will need in their other subjects. The same is true for teachers but they will need to know about more subjects than any individual student. A world full of data covers 10 subjects, so teachers may well find it helpful reading.
If you have any queries, you can email us at firstname.lastname@example.org, call us on 01223 553998 or tweet us @OCR_Maths. You can also sign up to subject updates and receive information about resources and support.
Ruth has worked in the OCR Maths team since 2014. Before joining OCR, Ruth taught maths in the UK, New Zealand, Kuwait, Oman and Qatar. Ruth worked on the development of the reformed A Level maths qualifications for first teaching in 2017 and she supports our Level 3 Maths qualifications.