## Monday, May 14, 2012

### National Fitness Month: Get Moving with Math

Since 1983, May has been observed as National Physical Fitness and Sports Month. You can teach your students the value of physical activity and help them understand how exercise can improve their mental and physical health. This is just one way to encourage students to lead happier, healthier and more productive lives.

Download a free guide to getting fit for students ages 6-17: Get Fit and Be Active! It suggests various exercises for kids along with some fun ways to get in shape for the President's Youth Physical Fitness Awards program offered by many schools. Visit www.fitness.gov/council_pubs.htm for this guide and lots of others on healthy eating and exercise for people of all ages.

In Excel Math, we help students develop strong minds as they learn to think independently, build confidence, combine math with literacy, and increase their test scores. We also believe in helping students become well-rounded and healthy members of society. Many of our math story problems include examples of exercise and healthy eating. Teachers even call to thank us for removing cookies and candy from our math word problems. (Even so, I'm still partial to a good cookie every now and then.)

May 18 is "Bike to Work" day. In many parts of the country, May is a beautiful time of year to exercise outdoors. Here in San Diego, the trees are budding and flowers are blooming. The water's warming up enough for a swim. It's gorgeous weather for riding a bike. Let's take a look at one of our Fourth Grade Excel Math Create A Problem worksheets about biking and calculating distance:
 Excel Math Grade 4 Student  Worksheet Create A Problem 18 Click here to download a PDF file of this worksheet

In this activity, fourth grade students fill in the graph and label it using the information given in the paragraphs. They then write their own word problem to go with the information shown on the graph. Create A Problem exercises let students express their own understanding of story problems, merging math with literacy. We start with simple stories and give students a chance to observe what is happening in the story. They then use those observations and the accompanying charts and graphs to solve problems.

The stories are designed so your students can observe, analyze and participate in the stories. Several consecutive stories may be related, so they might occasionally need to think back to what they did a week ago.

Here's one possible completed chart and word problem for the Create A Problem worksheet shown above:
 Excel Math Grade 4 Student  Worksheet Answer Possibility for Create A Problem 18
Later in the  curriculum we ask students to create a problem or two, and make up a CheckAnswer. Read more about CheckAnswers here. Finally, students are able to finish a story in their own words and write several problems about their story ending. This process demonstrates mastery AND integration. The format of the page allows students to give longer answers along with charts, graphs and other expressions of their solutions. Find out more about Excel Math on our website.