## Thursday, March 1, 2012

### Spiraling Into Control

When you hear the word spiral, what comes to mind?

Spiraling out of control? Spiral-bound books? Perhaps you think of seashells such as this photo of a nautilus shell showing the chambers arranged in an approximately logarithmic spiral.

Or you may think of a spiral staircase winding its way up (or down) to the next floor.
 Student Center Rendering Randolph College, Lynchburg, Virginia
Does math curriculum come to the top of your list?

Excel Math introduces new concepts to students while reviewing previously-taught concepts. It gives students the opportunity to master the old, while being challenged with the new. Once a concept is introduced, it literally stays in front of the students for the rest of the school year. The spiraling strategy of repeating concepts at regular intervals throughout the curriculum is an integral part of Excel Math.

At Excel Math, our lessons help students actively participate and interact with the teacher, with Projectable lessons, with each other, and with manipulatives. We help students develop higher-order thinking skills as they use math curriculum designed to keep their minds engaged in the learning process.

This spiraling strategy is a sophisticated process of introducing new concepts, reinforcing the concepts regularly, and then assessing the concepts. It leads to mastery and long-term competency for each student. In other words, the spiraling strategy helps move new concepts into the child's long-term memory and keep them there.

Excel Math curriculum continually brings in new topics while refreshing math concepts the students have learned before. Students aren't tested on a subject until they've had multiple chances to succeed in Guided Practice and Homework. Here's a visual road map explaining this spiraling strategy:

Most of the school year is devoted to the spiraled introduction and practice of math concepts. Each week, we introduce new concepts, practice the old ones, and prepare for assessment a week or two later. Students are not tested immediately after learning, so they have plenty of time to practice what they've learned—in class and at home.

Since all the lessons build upon one another, concepts are reinforced for several lessons after they are first introduced. Then those concepts continue to appear throughout the remainder of the school year. Excel Math helps those concepts lodge in a student's long-term memory by using this spiraling strategy.

And here's a practical example. Coins (quarters, dimes, nickels, and pennies) are introduced in this Grade 2 Student Sheet from Lesson 43 (the answers are given in the Teacher Edition as shown here):
 Excel Math Grade 2 Lesson Sheet introducing coins (Lesson 43)

These same concepts (recognizing coins) are reinforced throughout the week in additional lessons. Here's an example from the Guided Practice included in Lesson 46:
 Excel Math Grade 2 Guided Practice to review coins (Lesson 45)
These coins are included on the test two and half weeks later. Excel Math does not test students on concepts they've just learned in the week immediately before the test. We give students several additional days of review and reinforcement before testing. Students become more confident in their math skills as a result. After the test, those concepts are brought back into future lessons to keep them uppermost in the students' minds. So coins are reviewed again as part of the Homework for Lesson 106:
 Excel Math Grade 2 Homework to review coins (Lesson 106)
Here's what teachers have to say about the spiraling concept:

“I love Excel Math. The spiraling is what is so key to the program. Spiraling, coupled with the problem-solving lessons, especially for a 3rd Grade class, are wonderful. The children truly learn the material.” —Paula, 3rd Grade Teacher from Chandler, Texas

“We like Excel Math because the concepts spiral and increase in difficulty throughout the year. New concepts are introduced every few days in First Grade, instead of daily. We also use _____ program and, while the children like the colorful pictures, it is a very difficult program to use in the classroom, because there is no chance for practice and each page is a new concept taught in isolation. Overall, I’m very happy with Excel and the pacing of the lessons!” — Angie, 1st Grade Dual Immersion Teacher from Winters, CA

“I am a home-schooling mother of four. Excel Math is the type of program I’ve been looking for. I love the fact that there is a review of previously taught material throughout all the lessons. The workbook we’ve been using has no review and the concepts are taught too fast…. You are exactly what I was looking for and my son enjoys it.” — Homeschool mom from Vero Beach, Florida

Constant review and spaced repetition of the math concepts ensure students remember those concepts long after they are first introduced. Lessons build upon previous learning and often blend math and literacy, producing well-rounded and confident students. To learn more, visit the Excel Math website.