Additional Math Pages & Resources

Friday, August 15, 2014

ALL Students Can Succeed with Excel Math!

In a recent blog post from Edutopia, Jennifer Bay-Williams, mathematics teacher educator at the University of Louisville, shares three lessons she hopes pre-service teachers in her mathematics methods course will take away from the class. 

Some of her suggestions are already written into Excel Math lessons for Kindergarten through Sixth Grade.

Her tips include:
  • engaging students in challenging tasks
  • using higher-level questions in the classroom and 
  • tailoring instruction to students' specific needs. 
Read more:
Excel Math gives teachers at all grade levels from Kindergarten through Grade ) the ability to tailor instruction to student's needs. (We'll take a look at the the other tips in future blog posts.)

Here's what one teacher wrote to tell us:

For me, the key difference your Excel Math program offers is the consumable worksheets with CheckAnswers. This cultivates three key aspects of my classes that no one else can match.

The first part is increased rigor which is one of the three key Common Core shifts. Copying out of the book or from the front board is a low level skill that wastes time and promotes errors. My students spend zero time doing that. They go right to thinking and solving problems. Issues with penmanship and such are no longer a problem using your system resulting in more time spent on thinking and learning. The CheckAnswers further promote this rigor because students are immediately forced to confront their thinking and errors such that they have a limited clue as to the correct outcome. My students typically grow in their ability to persevere (CCSS Math Practice 1) as a result of this.
—Dana Menck, Vista Middle School, Van Nuys, California

With Excel Math lessons, mastery is not expected during the initial lesson where a concept is first introduced. 

For this reason, students have a chance to retain the concept for the long term as they practice it over the next few days and weeks during Guided Practice and Homework. After a couple of weeks, the concept finally turns up on an assessment. But Excel Math lessons don't stop there! That same concept will continue to spiral throughout the curriculum during the remainder of the year. 

Here's an example of what educators are telling us about how well the spiraling process in Excel Math works for their students:

“Our teachers, students and parents love Excel Math. Excel Math has provided an incredible boost to our math test scores and has given the students the confidence to successfully solve math problems. The review (spiraling) format assures that concepts learned are practiced throughout the year. We will keep making Excel Math an essential part of our Math curriculum.”

—Principal Villar, John Logan Elementary School, California
 Here's a diagram showing how this spiraling process works into the Excel Math program:

The school year spiraling strategy is broken down into a weekly spiraling strategy of each concept. As a result, student retain math concepts for the long term. Because concepts gradually build on each other, students experience success with learning math. Students begin to feel confident about their math skills as they discover, "I can do this!"
Download a copy of our Spiraling Strategy from our website:

Share your own math success  story with us by filling out the comment box below.

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Friday, July 18, 2014

6 Steps for Engaging Elementary Math Students

Jennifer Bay-Williams, mathematics teacher educator at the University of Louisville, shares three lessons she hopes pre-service teachers in her mathematics methods course take away from the class.

Her tips include:
  • engaging students in challenging tasks
  • using higher-level questions in the classroom and
  • tailoring instruction to students' specific needs.
Read more:

Excel Math lessons give teachers the resources they need to engage elementary math students in challenging mathematics tasks without the frustration and anxiety they often experience when learning math.

Here are six steps for engaging elementary students in math tasks:

1. Begin with Bell Work. Help students get on task as soon as they enter your classroom by giving them a specific "go-to" assignment each day. 

You could write a few problems on the board or use the Excel Math Basic Fact Practice section of the Student Lesson Sheets. Younger students could begin by copying numbers from the board or writing numbers you say aloud and then using counters or Ten Frames to represent those numbers. Math games for individual and partner play are also great ways to engage students at the beginning of class. Prepare to give the class a 2-minute warning when bell work time is almost up so they can prepare to transition to the next activity.

2. Let students solve real-world problems. Let your students count a dozen eggs (or donuts), figure out the cost per egg or donut when given the cost for a dozen, measure the perimeter of the classroom (or their desktops), estimate the length of the hallway, measure planks of wood and determine how many would be needed to lay a new classroom floor, calculate the time they have to wait from the first bell until recess or lunch, figure out how many square feet of tiles would be needed to tile the classroom, etc.
3. Include Hands-on Activities. Give your students a chance to form cubes and prisms, use art materials to create numbers, play cooperative math games (and make up some of their own), use measuring devices to make snacks and then divide the snacks evenly among their classmates, , in each Teacher Guide give students new ways to explore mathematics and solve real-world math problems.

4. Merge math with literacy. Share some of your favorite math poems and songs, read math stories, give your students word problems and let them write some of their own, merge math with literacy and challenge students to create and solve their own word problems. Create A Problem exercises in Excel Math give students a chance to figure out more complex word problems and create their own problems (and the solutions) for their classmates to solve.

5. Use discussion starters to help students collaborate, share ideas, talk about different ways to solve a problem and analyze various problem-solving techniques. Let students explain their thinking to each other as they tackle math problems and look for solutions. Set up brain-storming sessions, partner sharing and small-group discussions. Teach your students to listen actively and to summarize the other person's comments before sharing their own ideas. Students develop critical-thinking skills and begin to be willing to share their ideas with their classmates as you give then opportunities to talk about the steps they took to explore and solve math problems in a safe and open environment.

6. Give students opportunities to be successful. Before we challenge students, we can build their confidence by letting them solve easier problems, find and correct their mistakes, and encourage a growth mindset (I can do this). Your example will encourage your students to understand that there can often be more than one way to solve a problem and that we can learn from our mistakes (share the story of how Post-It Notes were invented by accident). As your students grow in confidence, they will be more willing to take risks and try more difficult tasks. Excel Math Stretches (brain teasers) beginning with Grade 2 challenge students to solve more complex problems and find solutions to logic questions and word problems.

The Assess As You Go feature of Excel Math lets students check their work and correct their own mistakes using the CheckAnswer (built into Student Lesson Sheets beginning in Grade 2). Students are usually able to find and correct their mistakes on their own. When they do get stumped by a problem, the teacher or parent can step in to help. Being able to self-assess encourage a growth mindset in students who realize they can figure things out on their own. Students discover that mistakes can actually enhance the learning process and we can learn from them.

Excel Math has a unique spiraling strategy that produces confident students who become successful at mathematics. Some students find they begin to love math after learning with Excel Math!

Just look what happened in Texas at Longworth Elementary after using Excel Math for just one year—test scores for their fifth grade students increased 25%!

Take a look at these amazing results:
Choose the Excel Math lessons that best fit your students' needs and let us send you a sample:

Common Core Editions—written to guide teachers and students through the new Common Core Standards. Teacher Editions include quarterly test tables that show the CCS concepts covered and in which lesson they were initially taught. See Common Core samples . . .

Texas Editions—a smooth transition to the new TEKS, introducing the new math skills now required at each grade level with our unique spiraling approach to get those concepts into your students' long-term memory. Texas Teacher Editions include quarterly test tables that show the TEKS concepts covered and in which lesson they were initially taught. See Texas samples . . .

Standard Excel Math Editions—our proven lessons with new teacher tips and online resources. Teacher friendly lessons and student successes make it a good fit for any classroom or homeschool situation. See Excel Math Standard Edition samples . . .
Read more . . .

Questions about how Excel Math lessons work? Leave a comment below.

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Monday, June 30, 2014

Struggling Math Students Benefit from Guided Practice

According to a new study, children who have struggled with math in the past and "children with learning disabilities tend to benefit from instruction that is explicit and teacher directed, guided and modeled and also has lots of opportunities for practice."

Pennsylvania State University researchers Paul L. Morgan and Steve Maczuga and George Farkas of the University of California, Irvine analyzed the use of different types of instruction by 1st grade mathematics teachers.

"I don't want kids to be bored. I want them to be engaged by what they are being taught," Morgan said, "but I think sometimes we touch on concepts too briefly; we only give kids two or three opportunities to practice it." Read more about this study on a blog post from Sarah Sparks . . .

How wonderful that Excel Math provides exactly what this research shows young students need most: lots of direct instruction (along with hands-on activities and blended learning), guided practice each day, a unique spiraling process that keeps concepts in front of students all year long, plus a CheckAnswer system beginning in second grade that lets students self assess and gives them a natural feedback loop. Read more about CheckAnswer.

No wonder we regularly hear success stories such as these:
"I am a principal in a school where 97% of the student population has free or reduced lunch. This year, I switched out the regular math curriculum with Excel Math. My CRCT scores increased by 13%. My STAR test increased even higher. It absolutely works!! Thanks again!"—principal on the West Coast

Excel Math Teacher Edition
"I absolutely love your products. I service a self-contained special education classroom (1st through 3rd grade) and have students who are performing on various grade levels. Excel Math helps me to manage my time because there are so many skills offered and repeated practice on one worksheet. It's great, letting me quickly identify the students' areas of weakness. (And yes, each time I have placed an order, the person was quite friendly.) Thank you for your product, service, and expertise."
— Gloria J. Britt, Special Education Teacher, Browning Elementary School, Houston, Texas
Here's what one of the authors of this research study had to say in summary.

Request a complimentary Excel Math Sample Packet to find out more about how we help students succeed in math and how your students can benefit from these unique lessons. Teacher Editions are now available for Common Core and Texas Versions as well as our Standard Edition.
Excel Math Projectable Lessons

Read more . . .

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