Additional Math Pages & Resources

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Take a Hike in November!

Lake Tahoe with the family
It's National Take a Hike Day, celebrated each year on November 17. And since this is also the 100th year celebration of our National Parks, hiking is a wonderful way to join the celebration and simultaneously explore some of the spectacular outdoor places our country has to offer.

This photo was taken at Lake Tahoe, where the Baker family enjoyed a camping trip filled with water sports, hiking, and enjoying the great outdoors.

Big Pine Lake hiking
Big Pine Lake is another beautiful place to hike in California, and now that we have some cooler weather (at times), hiking can be a fun way to see the fall colors and shuffle through the leaves.
The scent of pine brings memories of holidays and anticipating fun times with family and friends.

At Excel Math, we include word problems to help students tackle real-world problems. Here's a word problem from our Grade 3 Student Lesson Sheets:
Mr. Park went on a hike. He saw 8 deer.
That was 7 fewer than the number of
rabbits he saw. He saw 3 more hawks
than rabbits. How many hawks did he see?
Excel Math lessons merge math with literacy in our Create A Problem exercises. These in-depth story problems give students an opportunity to use higher-level thinking skills and begin to write and solve their own word problems as their math skills progress. Take a look at sample Create A Problems for Grades 2-6.

Cowles Mountain Summit
Here's a photo of the summit of Cowles Mountain in San Diego, a very popular hiking spot for residents and visitors alike.

You can catch just a small glimpse of the 360ยบ views from this photo. On a clear day you can see all the way to the Coronado Islands in Mexico.

Read more about Cowles Mountain and the various hiking trails in our blog posts from several years ago: Take a Hike, Part 1 and then get out and walk your neighborhood.

Be sure to stop by the Mission Trails Visitors' Center just down the road to see local artwork and the interactive exhibits that explain the native culture as well as the plants and animals you may encounter on your hike.

Mission San Luis Rey Rose Garden
Find a friend and try a new neck of the woods to explore on foot. Use the comments box below to let us know some of your favorite hiking spots.

If you prefer a less strenuous stroll, the Mission San Luis Rey in Oceanside has some beautiful gardens, complete with benches that offer a place to rest and smell the aroma of roses.

Certain times of year they also have rooms available for travelers to stay, providing a quiet respite away from the hectic pace of day to day activities and stress.

Huntington Beach
Traveling around the diverse state of California, there are beaches around every corner along the coast.

Here's a picturesque view of Huntington Beach, where families gather for a meal after a busy day in the water. In the evenings, dinner is followed by s'mores around the fire pits after the sun has set.

Walking or jogging along the beach with the warm wind at your back can be a completely different experience a few weeks later when you walk that same beach in the midst of a downpour. Both are wonderful experiences!

Sunset at Torrey Pines State Park
A cold, brisk day at the beach when the crowds have stayed home is a great opportunity to walk along the sand and enjoy the restless waves, the sea spray, and the solitude.

Sunsets over the water give a totally new perspective to the same beach that may have been crowded and noisy in the bright light of daytime, just a few hours earlier.

This photo was taken at Torrey Pines State Park.

The many hiking trails above the beach give families a chance to see some of the habitat native to Southern California up close and personal.

Torrey Pines State Beach
Many of the plants and trees are labeled. Be sure to wear comfortable shoes instead of flip-flops.

Many of the paths and steps take you from the beach up to the scenic views shown in these photos.

Take a Hike Day gives you a great excuse to get outdoors and explore the beautiful areas of your own city and state.

But really, no excuse is needed to walk your neighborhood, your hiking trails, and learn about the history of the place you call home. Every day can be a wonderful time to take a hike!

Sunday, November 13, 2016

It's Super Moon!

For the first time in 78 years, we'll have an opportunity to see a supermoon that is traveling extremely close to the earth.

On Sunday or Monday, November 13 or 14, grab a friend and a telescope and enjoy  this rare treat.

You won't see another like this moon for decades!

Read more about this event at Nationalgeographic.com

For those of us in North America, the moon is closer to full on the night of November 13.

The moon turns precisely full on November 14, 2016 at 1352 UTC. This full moon instant will happen in the morning hours before sunrise in western North America and the Pacific islands (to the east of the International Date Line).

The moon will look full and bright all night long on both nights – November 13 and 14 – as it rises in the east around sunset, climbs highest up around midnight, and then sets in the west at or near sunset.

With Excel Math, students learn about astronomy, our solar system, and the world around them. They also learn math concepts for long-term retention.

Excel Math's unique spiraling system reinforces learning, builds proficiency, and develops student confidence in math.

Word problems are included in Excel Math Guided Practice as well as throughout the lessons and homework. Here's a word problem from Excel Math Grade 3:

The distance from the earth to the moon can be measured in_____________.
a. grams
b. pints
c. kilometers
Excel Math goes beyond these basic word problems to teach students how to solve more in-depth story problems, called Create A Problem. 

These Create A Problem exercises begin in Grade 2 to help students develop higher-level problem solving skills.

Students are challenged to read a larger section of text, write problems, and solve their own story problems, merging math with literacy.

Here's an example of a Create A Problem exercise from Grade 4. Since this page is from the Teacher Edition, the answers are show in bold. Click on the image for a larger view.
How do you help your student build success in math for the long term? Will some of them be watching the supermoon this week?

You may also like these articles:

Tips & Tricks for Success with Math

Fall Bulletin Boards for the Math Classroom

5 Secrets to Success with Math

Happy 40th Anniversary, Excel Math!Perseid Outburst—Showers of Stars

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Thank You, Teachers!

October 5 is World Teachers' Day. Each year since 1996 teachers around the world have been celebrated on this day for the role they play in providing quality education to students at all levels.

The Philippines holds the longest celebration for teachers in the world — from September 5 to October 5.

However, 7 out of 10 countries don't have enough primary teachers for their children.

In countries like Chad, a lower secondary education is all it takes to become a primary teacher. Even so, only 35% of teachers in the classroom meet this minimum standard.

Today we could use about 2.7 million teachers to provide every child in the world with a primary education. By 2030 that number is expected to increase to 25.8 million!


In Kentucky, Boyle County schools will start their celebration of teachers on October 3. They will be celebrating the success of their teachers with a potluck, a special recognition ceremony and a surprise video. They plan to recognize teachers and their accomplishments with letters and video commentary from administration and students about the impact their teachers have  had on the students.

This week is a good time to recognize those teachers in our own lives—past and present.

Here at Excel Math, every day gives us a chance to recognize teachers. Click on the card below to download a copy for yourself or to send to a colleague.

We want to thank teachers for the time and effort you spend nurturing, educating and challenging students. We appreciate you. You are amazing!

Click to download this card

Friday, September 23, 2016

You Can Be a Math Storyteller!

September 25 is Math Storytelling Day. On this day, those of us who love math can have fun making up and sharing math-related stories. Stories can involve puzzles, logic problems, brain teasers, sports, pets, work and home life—just about anything, as long as math is involved.

Scholastic has a fun website called Math Maven's Mysteries where students can solve various detective stories involving math of various difficulty levels. Topics include logical reasoning, fractions, money, decimals, patterns, measurement, geometry, and more. A teacher's guide is included. Math Maven's Mysteries can be a teacher-guided or independent student activity, depending on the reading level of the students. The mysteries are rated by difficulty level.

Some of your students may enjoy the short mysteries by Donald J. Sobol. His hero, Encyclopedia Brown, often solves detective problems using logic, money, telling time or simple math such as in The Case of the Two-Dollar Bill.

Magic Tree House books often include math as well as science and geography.

Your students may enjoy creating their own stories involving math and then sharing them with the class. For a more involved project, have them write and illustrate their stories on colored paper. Add a cardboard cover to make a book, complete with the author's bio. Then let your students share their books with younger students at your school, with their families, with local boys and girls' clubs, or with seniors in your neighborhood.
Here's a story problem from Excel Math 3rd grade (the answer is given below):
Three children caught a total of 12 fish. They each caught the same number of fish. How many fish did each child catch?
In Excel Math, students tackle more in-depth word problems in 2nd through 6th grades. In addition to shorter problems similar to the one above, Excel Math has a unique take on story problems, called Create A Problem. With these more complex word problems, students are given a chance to express their own understanding of a story problem.
Create A Problem exercises merge math and literacy as they help students develop higher-order thinking skills.

Create A Problem lessons start with simple stories and give students a chance to observe what is happening in the story. They then use those observations to have the students solve one- and two-step word problems. Later in the curriculum, we ask students to create a problem or two, and make up their own CheckAnswers. (Read about the CheckAnswer system in our previous blog post.)

Finally, students are able to finish a story in their own words and write several problems about their story ending. This demonstrates mastery AND integration. The format of the page allows longer answers, along with charts, graphs and other expressions of the students' solutions. Here's an example from Grade 4:


And the answer to our fish story problem? Each child caught four fish. Show students how to check their answer with addition: 4 + 4 + 4 = the total number of fish caught by the three children or 12. Point out that the problem said all three children caught the same number of fish, so an answer of 5 + 3 + 4 would still equal 12, but would not be correct. Each child caught the same number of fish as the others.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Tips & Tricks for Success with Math

Beginning a new math program can be a challenge! 

Here's a 5-step plan from Excel Math to help you and your students get off to a strong start this fall:

1. Use the Excel Math Placement Tests

Excel Math provides 
FREE Placement Tests to 

help you determine where your students should begin in math.

Free Placement TestEach Placement Test file contains six tests that evaluate a student's preparedness for Excel Math. The tests are labeled A - F, which correspond to first through sixth grade.

Download the test (in English or Spanish) from our web store http//:excelmath.myshopify.com 

Then email us for the answer keys: info@excelmath.com

Save the test to your computer and print it for each new student who begins your class after the school year has started. Instructions for using the tests are included.

Use Guided Practice & CheckAnswer to give immediate feedback
2. Give Immediate Feedback
After students turn in an assignment for most classes, they usually have to wait a day or two or more to find out whether they were on track and did the work correctly.

In that brief amount of time, students can easily forget why they made the mistakes they did.

Projectable Lessons
Those mistakes begin to seep into long-term memory when they are not corrected right away.

And since students haven't yet discovered where or why those mistakes occurred, they keep making the same mistakes again and again as they complete their homework. As a result, the mistakes continue and bad habits begin to form.

With Excel Math, students get immediate feedback so they can easily find and correct their mistakes, switch gears, and start tackling math problems correctly. 

Dr. Janice Raymond, the author of Excel Math lessons, incorporated a natural feedback loop with the unique CheckAnswer system. The CheckAnswer lets students see immediately where they've made mistakes and gives them a chance to correct those errors on their own.

It enables students to check their own work and verify for themselves that they understand the concepts in the daily Guided Practice and Homework.

3. Be Flexible
Excel Math Teacher Edition
Excel Math is designed to be flexible! You may find there is more material each week than you can use, especially if you have field trips and holidays.

Use your own judgment to work through the lessons in their entirety or move quickly through a few days of lessons if your class is comfortable with the concepts.

On those days, let your students spend more time on the Guided Practice portion so they can review a number of different concepts.

Students who finish quickly can tackle the Stretch problem or continue with Basic Fact Practice. We do not recommend jumping around the lessons in a different order, as all the lessons build upon one another.

4. Use the Test Tables for Assessment
Excel Math tests are cumulative. There is a test after every five lessons in Grades 2 - 6 and after every 10 lessons in Grade 1. Kindergarten has just 6 tests over the year. Each grade also has quarterly and end-of-year tests.

The test tables located in the Teacher Edition indicate the concept covered by each test question and the lesson numbers where each concept was taught. After your students complete each test, use the tables to see where they need more review and practice.

5. Download our FREE Guide to Success
When you begin using Excel Math, be sure to download our Strategies for Success with Excel Math.

If you're from Texas, we have a special version of the guide just for you: Strategies for Success with Excel Math - Texas.

This step-by-step guide will help you get off to a running start with Excel Math. If you have questions, we are just a phone call away.

Call us at 1-866-866-7513 Monday - Friday between 8:00 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. (West Coast time)

A friendly person will be glad to start you on the road to success with Excel Math!


You may also like these articles:
Fall Bulletin Boards for the Math Classroom
5 Secrets to Success with Math

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.