Additional Math Pages & Resources

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Perseid Outburst—Showers of Stars

Perseid meteors light up the sky in August 2009 • Photo courtesy of NASA
A meteor shower is a spike in the number of meteors or "shooting stars" that streak through the night sky. An outburst is a meteor shower with more meteors than usual.

During the nights of August 11 and 12, we will have a chance to see a spectacular meteor shower—the Perseids. In the dark of the night we will be able to see thousands of these brilliant falling stars.

The annual Perseid meteor shower is anticipated to be one of the best potential meteor viewing opportunities this year.

The Perseids are not a danger to Earth. Most burn up 50 miles above us. But an outburst could mean trouble for spacecraft.

“Forecasters are predicting a Perseid outburst this year with double normal rates on the night of Aug. 11-12,” said Bill Cooke with NASA’s Meteoroid Environments Office in Huntsville, Alabama. “

Under perfect conditions, rates could soar to 200 meteors per hour.”

The last Perseid outburst occurred in 2009. Read more from NASA.

These meteors can be seen most clearly during the early morning hours of August 11 and 12.

The best way to see the Perseids is to go outside between midnight and dawn on the morning of Aug. 12. Allow about 45 minutes for your eyes to adjust to the dark.

When a meteor appears, it seems to "shoot" quickly across the sky, and its small size and intense brightness might make you think you're seeing a star.

Astronomers are predicting 100-200 Perseid meteors an hour so grab a friend and check it out! But be sure to be patient, get comfortable, and watch as long as possible for the best show. Plan to watch for at least half an hour.

A reclining chair or ground pad will make it far more comfortable to keep your gaze on the night sky. Lie on your back and look straight up. Increased activity may also be seen on Aug. 12-13.

Be sure to put away the telescope or binoculars. Using either reduces the amount of sky you can see at one time, lowering the odds that you'll see anything but darkness. Experts suggest you let your eyes hang loose and don't look in any one specific spot.

Relaxed eyes will quickly zone in on any movement up above, and you'll be able to spot more meteors. Avoid looking at your cell phone or any other light. Both get in the way of night vision.

For stargazers experiencing cloudy skies, a live broadcast of the Perseid meteor shower will be available via Ustream overnight on Aug. 11-12 and Aug. 12-13, beginning at 10 p.m. EDT.

Read more about meteor showers on our previous blog post: Catch a Falling Star: Meteor Showers 

In Excel Math, we help students develop higher-order thinking skills so they will have a love for math and want to be life-long learners. Former Excel Math students often mention that their Excel Math class was where they first developed a love for math.

Watching the meteor shower this weekend with your family and friends (and reading a bit about it beforehand) is a just one fun way to help foster that love of learning.

Read a brief history of Excel Math here.

Download our Scientific Research Report to see how schools around the country are building student success with Excel Math.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Happy 40th Anniversary, Excel Math!

Excel Math began 40 years ago, the brainchild of our author and friend, Janice Raymond, Ph.D.

Over that time, these lessons have guided millions of students to excel in math!

Thanks for partnering with us in this amazing journey.

In 1976, Dr. Janice Raymond began volunteering at her local elementary school. She was disappointed to learn that many children disliked their math classes.

She began to develop CheckAnswer Math, using the prototypes in fifth grade classrooms in Coronado, California.
Dr. Janice Raymond with her mom

Over the years, Janice worked in Coronado schools and refined Excel Math (previously called Coronado Math) through research at San Diego State University, classroom testing, and teacher conferences around the country.

In 1984, Coronado Math became AnsMar Publishers, Incorporated, to honor Janice’s parents, Anson and Marion.

Here's a photo of Janice with her mom taken a few years ago.

In 2002, Excel Math moved to Poway, California.

A photo of the current office building is shown below.

For over 40 years, Excel Math has been reaching students nationwide, helping them build confidence and success in math.
Excel Math today in Poway, California
Excel Math is updated on a continual basis, unlike textbooks, which are printed once every few years.

As a result, you get the most up-to-date lessons every time you order materials.

Teachers rave about the results they see with Excel Math, and many students begin to love math for the first time!

The unique CheckAnswer process used in Excel Math Grades 2 - 6 gives students a natural feedback loop so they can correct mistakes as they occur.

See how it works below. Excel Math builds student success whether used in a core or supplement position.

For over 40 years, Excel Math has significantly improved students’ understanding and retention of math concepts.

Time and time again, Excel Math demonstrates immediate student growth, as measured by state and national assessments. When students gain confidence — test scores rise!

Read a brief history of Excel Math here.

Download our Scientific Research Report to see how schools around the country are building student success with Excel Math.

Monday, June 13, 2016

Visit Excel Math in Austin for TEPSA!

Visit Excel Math in Austin for TEPSAVisit us in Austin, Texas for TEPSA June 15 -16, 2016.

If you'll be in Austin for TEPSA (or your principal will be), be sure to stop by the Excel Math booth at Atrium #18 in the Austin Renaissance Hotel and say hi to Brad and Carol!

Bring your prize card by the booth at Atrium 18 for a chance to win an Excel Math travel toiletries bag.

Check out our math lessons for Summer School — just $8 per student.

Or, if you're looking for a proven math curriculum for Fall, bring your business card and let us send you a sample packet of our Texas Editions.

Take a look at the outstanding test results schools are seeing when they use Excel Math:

Won't make it to Austin? You can take a look at TEKS-aligned math lessons on our web site:

Download Excel Math correlations to the TEKS for Grades K - 6 from that same web page.

If you already use Excel Math in your classroom, let us know how it's going, what works well, suggestions for making it even better, etc.

Send us your notes and suggestions in the comments box below. Include your email address if you would like us to send you a note of thanks.

Finally, here's a clever sign found outside a restaurant in Austin. We like it!

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Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Bike to Work Day: Adding Up the Miles

Bike to Work Day is a national event celebrated annually in the United States on the third Friday in May as part of National Bike Month.

The purpose of National Bike Month is to encourage biking as a viable, fun and healthy transportation choice for all types of trips.

Bike to Work Day was started in 1956 by the League of American Bicyclists to increase public interest in biking and to promote it as an alternative for driving to work.

Here in San Diego, we will celebrate Bike to Work day on Friday, May 20.

A total of 101 pit stops are planned for Friday. They will be open from 6:00 to 9:00 a.m. for bikers who register beforehand.

Pit stops offer welcome breaks for new and experienced bike riders as they head off to work or school on Friday morning.

Bikers can rest at the Pit stops and pick up a FREE T-shirt, snacks, water, and encouragement before they get back on their bikes.

To see the Bike to Work 2016 pit stop locations around San Diego county, check out the pit stop map.

San Diego county also has many scenic biking trails you can try out any day of the year.
Mission Trails Regional Park
view from one of the bike trials

Chart your bike riding course using the San Diego iCommute Regional Bike Map.

Some Excel Math employees enjoy biking to work and riding bikes just for pleasure (and exercise). 

One of our former employees ran a bike shop back in the 'seventies.

Some of our Excel Math lessons include math problems about biking. 

If you have a favorite place to go biking, let us know in the comments below.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Cinco de Mayo Matemáticas

This week marks Cinco de Mayo. So let's combine this celebration with mathematics (matemáticas, en Español).

In the southwestern region of the United States, May 5 is a day of celebration that includes food, mariachis, street festivals, parades and festivities of all kinds. Cinco de Mayo (the fifth of May) celebrates the Mexican army's victory over France in 1862 at the Battle of Puebla. Contrary to public opinion, it is not Mexican Independence Day, but instead commemorates a victory during the Franco-Mexican War of 1861-1867.

Cinco de Mayo is a relatively minor holiday in Mexico. But here in the United States, it has grown to become a celebration of Mexican culture and heritage, especially in areas such as San Diego, with a large Mexican-American population. So bring the flavor of Cinco de Mayo into your classroom this week. Tell your students about the Battle of Puebla and the Franco-Mexican War.

Help the class understand that this was not the war for Mexican Independence, which happened several decades earlier. That holiday is celebrated on September 16.

Excel Math gives you the tools you need to help build confident, successful math students. It's even available in English and in Spanish. (See our order form here.)   

If you have some interesting ways you bring Mexican traditions into your math class, feel free to share them in the "comments" box below.

Have your students say a few math words in Spanish or other languages. You can download a Glossary of math terms in English or Spanish on our website: Math Glossary

Invite a person of Mexican heritage to visit your classroom and share some traditions with your students. Serve Guacamole or Quesadillas (tortillas with cheese). Make sure no one is allergic to the foods you bring. Sing a few songs in Spanish. Use the Spanish math terms to solve some math problems.

More than just worksheets, Excel Math lessons include hands-on visuals and manipulatives, stretches (brainteasers), cooperative learning activities, interactive opportunities (including Projectable Lessons), a finely-tuned spiraling system, a natural feedback loop called CheckAnswer, in-depth word problems,  and lots more.

Excel Math Teacher Editions are available in three versions:
Common Core
Texas (TEKS aligned and STAAR ready)
Standard (Non Common Core)
With all three versions, you receive easy-to-teach lessons (to use as a supplement or in a core position) that include Guided Practice, Basic Fact Practice, Homework, and regular assessments, all for just $12.00 per student for the entire year—just $1.00 per month for each student! 

Walk through a lesson on our website:

Because Excel Math emphasizes critical thinking instead of fill-in-the-blank answers, these lessons are an outstanding bridge to the requirements of the TEKS, Common Core and state standards. Take a closer look and download samples on our website.

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Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Making Pretzels—Do the Math

Tuesday, April 26 is not only Hug a Friend Day, it's also National Pretzel Day. So let your students make pretzels (or toast frozen ones) and share a fun snack together as they learn about tally charts and graphs.

Excel Math Lessons help build students who are confident in mathematics and prepared for higher-order thinking skills and advanced math education. In fact, many students develop a love for math as they progress through the Excel Math program. Take a look at our proven lessons for Kindergarten through Grade 6 at More than just worksheets, these lessons really work! Read the glowing reports from administrators, teachers and parents:

Now let's make some pretzels and try some edible math. Have your students wash their hands. Give each student a small sheet of parchment paper or foil and a small piece of bread dough (you can use refrigerated bread or biscuit dough or make your own). Provide cookie sheets, an oven or toaster oven, oven mitt, kosher salt, and a permanent marker. Also provide gluten-free dough or pretzels for students who have gluten allergies.

Let each student initial one corner of his parchment paper or foil sheet. Have him roll the dough into a thin snake shape. Then hold one end of dough in each hand and place it on the parchment paper or foil as if to form an oval. Twist the ends together as shown to form a pretzel shape as shown:

Some students may prefer to leave their pretzels as sticks or to give them a curved look. Others may want to create their own unique design (heart, face, initial, etc.). Sprinkle the pretzels with salt. Give each student a wet wipe to clean up messy hands and also to wipe down the work space. After shaping the pretzels, point out that the pretzel ends look a bit like arms reaching up to give yourself a hug. Let your students demonstrate crossing their arms to give themselves a hug.

Place the pretzels in a 350-400 degree oven (or toaster oven) for 8-12 minutes or until golden brown. Let cool and then serve. Hand out napkins. (You could also provide assorted mustards for dipping or cinnamon sugar to sprinkle on top, and water or juice to drink. Or bring melted chocolate, vanilla yogurt and mini pretzel twists to create covered pretzels. These are a bit more messy. Make sure none of your students have allergies to the ingredients.) If you like, bring hard stick and twist pretzels and do a taste test to see which type of pretzels your class prefers. Create a class tally chart to keep track of how many students prefer hard vs. soft pretzels. You could also show stick vs. twist preferences. Depending on which types of graphs your class is studying, have each student make a bar graph, a picture graph or a circle graph showing the class preferences for pretzels. Here's a Tally chart we created:

Have your students create their graphs using pencil and paper. Once you check them for accuracy, let the students get creative and use an online charting or graphing website to create a 3-D look and add color and text to the graph. The online graphs can be printed, emailed, or embedded on your class website. Here's a bar graph created from

Create your own chart or graph

The National Center for Education Statistics also has some free charts and graphs for students. This pie graph (from uses the same data as our bar graph above:
While your students enjoy the pretzels, talk about how math is used in our everyday lives —financial, measurements (length, distance, volume, temperature), computing, modifying recipes, cooking, listening to music, sports, medicine, carpentry, etc. Students who finish their graphs early can create a poem describing some of the enjoyable ways they (or their parents) use math.

New to Excel Math? Visit our website to learn more and take a look at Free sample lessons:

Looking for help for teaching your students Common Core math? Download samples from our Excel Math Common Core Editions.

Or, if you're from Texas, see how Excel Math is TEKS aligned and helps prepare students for STAAR assessments. View TEKS correlations online.