## Wednesday, May 29, 2013

### Fun with Fractions

In Excel Math we teach students how to use fractions, percentages and decimal numbers. Let's see how it's done (there are many ways).

First, what is a fraction?

The word fraction is used to describe one or more equal parts of a group. When we cut a pie or pizza or anything into equal parts, we create fractions of the whole.

The numerator is the top number (above the line).
It tells how many parts of the equal whole you are describing:

The denominator is the bottom number (below the line).
It tells into how many parts the whole has been cut or divided:
The fraction one-fourth can be notated as a colored box:

or as various shapes.

Since 1 of the 4 parts is shaded (in both examples), the numerator is 1. There are four total parts so the denominator is 4.

New to Excel Math? Preview elementary math lessons that really work for Kindergarten through Sixth Grade on our website: www.excelmath.com. Also find math resources for teachers, parents and students and download a sample packet at excelmath.com.

You might also like:

## Monday, May 27, 2013

### Plotting Some Real-Life Math

Here's a fun way to teach your students to read a map, measure distance, and create a line plot.

Give each student a ruler. Download ruler patterns and other free printables from our website. Print a map of a town or community (yes, you can download the map, too). Explain that in the United States, maps are laid out with north toward the top of the page, west to the left, east to the right and south toward the bottom of the page. Not all cultures draw their maps this way!
Explain that when we look at a map, we look for the north-south-east-west symbol (the compass rose) that will show how the places on the map relate to “the real world”.  On the Map of Town, the compass rose is a simple arrow diagram. The colored one below is much more elaborate. Download a Map of Town for each of your students.

Let your students measure lengths of the streets (1 inch = 1 mile) and find the distance from the bike to various buildings in the city. Write the various distances on the board. Talk about which distances are greater than the distance to the Elementary School. Which distances are less than the distance to the bank?

Compare several distances in this way. Help the class determine the greatest and least distances. Draw a number line on the board using half inch increments with these extremes. Or download a number line from our website. Mark an X for each distance shown. Xs can “pile up” above repeated values.

Ask your students, if they are walking east on C Street, is the Post Office on their left or right? What if they are walking west on C Street? Being on the left or the right depends on the direction in which they are walking.

If you have time, let your students each draw a small map. It can be a map of an actual place in your town or an imaginary place. They can draw vertical and/or horizontal lines using graph paper, to show streets or sidewalks. Have them indicate the start with a stick figure, an animal or a bike. On a separate piece of paper, have each student use his own map to write directions to certain landmarks from the start. Make sure they print their names on the map and on the directions page.
When finished, have your students exchange their maps and directions with each other. See if they can follow the directions and read the map created by their classmates.

As they read the directions, the students can move their pencils along the correct line in the correct direction and make the end of the line the point of an arrow. This will help them have the correct perspective to be able to answer the question.

New to Excel Math? Take a look at elementary math lessons that really work for Kindergarten through Sixth Grade on our website: www.excelmath.com. Also find lots of math resources for teachers, parents and students at excelmath.com.

## Wednesday, May 22, 2013

### Staying Fit Over the Summer Break

Help your students stay mentally and physically active over the summer months with math practice and lots of outdoor exercise. You may want to send home a list of summer suggestions to give parents some tools to avoid family boredom, burnout and the summer slump.

Excel Math Summer Lessons are an inexpensive way to keep your students learning math over the summer break. Read more on our previous blog post: Summer, A Season of Math Learning. Then take a look at lesson samples for Pre-Kindergarten through Pre-7th Grade at www.excelmath.com.

Students can hone their math skills with online Timed Basic Fact Practice, electronic flashcards, and games such as math Bingo. They can work on addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, or a combination of all four operations and then try to beat their personal best score. You can encourage parents to start a neighborhood math play group with these online math games and resources for students of all ages:

Calculation Nation - log in as a guest or get an account and play against others
Multiplication Jeopardy Game
The BBC has lots of creative online games at http://www.bbc.co.uk/bitesize/ks2/maths/number/
Quizlet Electronic Flashcards

## Monday, May 20, 2013

### Bridging the Gap to Common Core Math

How will you bridge the gap between your current math curriculum and the Common Core Standards? Excel Math can increase the rigor and mathematical practices of your math lessons without breaking your budget!

The Excel Math Common Core Teacher Editions walk you through the new vocabulary and Common Core standards (CCS) while giving you the tools you need to help students make sense of problems and persevere in solving them. New math activities for kindergarten through sixth grade encourage critical thinking skills. Discussion suggestions and open-ended questions let you lead your students to construct viable arguments, think critically, explain their reasoning, and respond to their classmates' thinking. You become the facilitator for class discussions, helping your students discover alternate problem-solving methods.

Excel Math has been proven to get results when used as a supplement or in a core position. Read more and download a Scientifically Based Research Report showing how Excel Math increases student test scores across all grade levels.

Download a sample of our Grade 3 Common Core Teacher Edition to get a sneak preview of the first ten lessons for third grade.

At AnsMar Publishers, we are committed to helping our  customers make a smooth transition to CCS with Excel Math. You can view Excel Math Common Core correlations for Kindergarten through Grade 6 here: www.excelmath.com/downloads/state_stds.html

Or, if you're looking for lessons that correlate with the TEKS and are STAAR ready, visit our Texas Connection web page:

We are in the very early stages of creating our new Excel Math Common Core Teacher Editions. When each one is released, we will have an announcement on our website. Our goal is to have as many grades ready by fall 2013 as possible (focusing on grades 2-5 first, and then grades K-1 and 6). Our student lesson sheets are updated and are now shipping.

## Wednesday, May 15, 2013

### Spring Bulletin Boards for the Math Class

If April showers bring May flowers, what do May flowers bring? Perhaps colorful new bulletin board sets for your math classroom!

For a clever raindrop bulletin board, cut raindrop shapes from paper or cardboard. Print math facts on the drops and hang them from the ceiling in front of your bulletin board.

Staple an old umbrella half to the bulletin board. Hang additional math fact raindrops from the umbrella. Letter each raindrop and let your students write down the answers during your bell work or when they finish assignments early. Prepare an answer sheet so your students can exchange papers and check their work as they finish. Let your students cut additional raindrops and add their own problems to them so you have an ongoing supply of new math problems to add to the bulletin board each week. Younger students may simply count the number of various colored raindrops hanging from the board.

Download this cute cat with umbrella pattern to include on your bulletin board or as a welcome sign for the door to your classroom (just add the word "Welcome" to the blank space on the poster). Then enlarge this colorful rainbow to add across one of the walls of your room. Or cut two rainbows, glue them together, and hang the finished rainbow from your ceiling. Then teach your students the rainbow song to help them remember the order that colors appear in rainbows.

You might also like:
Create Your Own Math Certificates and Awards
Bulletin Board Ideas for the Math Classroom
Classroom Management Tips

## Monday, May 13, 2013

### Listen Up! — Keeping Students' Attention

 There's nothing more frustrating than students who just won't listen and follow instructions! In every classroom, there seem to be at least one or two. To make matters worse, their selective hearing impairment seems not only contagious but also quite distracting. How do successful teachers and parents train kids to listen? First, the teacher does not talk over the students. This is much easier said than done. It's extremely hard for us as human beings to simply wait in silence. Especially when we are short on time and patience. But the teacher who wants to train students how to actively listen will simply stand silently waiting for the students to finish talking. Then the teacher may remind the class that he will always be glad to wait for the talking to stop before beginning the lesson. The teacher goes on to explain that there will be less time for using computers, doing partner work, playing math games (or whatever activity your class enjoys), but he is always glad to wait for everyone's attention. To be even more proactive, Michael Linsin, author of Dream Class, suggests teaching students to stop what they're doing and look at you when you give a certain signal. Read more . . . More than just worksheets, Excel Math lessons include hands-on visuals and manipulatives, stretches (brainteasers), cooperative learning activities, interactive opportunities (including Projectable Lessons) and a new Common Core Edition coming for fall. Our tried and true "original" Excel Math lessons (updated for 2013) will still be available for Texas and other non-Common Core states. You also receive easy-to-teach lessons (to use as a supplement or in a core position), guided practice, Basic Fact Practice, Homework, and regular assessments. Walk through a lesson on our website: www.excelmath.com/tour/tour01.html You might also like: Summer: A Season of Math Learning Classroom Management Tips Excel Math Summer School Samples

## Thursday, May 9, 2013

### Summer: A Season of Math Learning

It all adds up — according to some researchers, students who continue their learning over the summer months are much more likely to be successful in their studies when school starts up again in the fall.

School districts nationwide are encouraged to take advantage of time over the summer to offer innovative learning programs for students—including those who are at risk—and help them as well as teachers prepare for the new state standards. Gary Huggins, CEO of the National Summer Learning Association, writes about the benefits of using the summer months wisely in this opinion article. Some of the benefits he highlights include curbing summer learning loss and preventing drops in test scores. Read more at Education Week (premium article access compliments of EdWeek.org)

Excel Math offers support to parents and teachers working to bridge the summer achievement gap with a proven Summer School program for Pre-Kindergarten through Pre-7th Grade. Six weeks of math instructional materials is less than \$7.00 per student.

You might also like:
Summer Math: Bridging the Achievement Gap
Principals Praise Excel Math for Exceptional Student Math Scores
Excel Math Summer School Samples

## Sunday, May 5, 2013

### Cinco de Mayo Mathematics

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.

You may want to explain that the Mexican War of Independence was a battle between the people of Mexico and the Spanish colonial authorities that took place 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. Just click on the word "comments" below.

You might also like these articles:

Thank You, Teachers!
May Day Math

Seven Steps to Successful Math Students (& Parents)

Happy Birthday, Library of Congress

April: Math Awareness Month

## Wednesday, May 1, 2013

### May Day Math

Happy May Day! May is Teacher Appreciation Month, which gives us another chance to let you know how much you're appreciated. At Excel Math, we are very thankful for teachers such as you, who go the extra mile for their students. On behalf of the entire Excel Math team, thanks for helping students achieve beyond expectation and for hanging in there even when the going gets tough!

Excel Math gives you the tools you need to help build confident, successful math students. More than just worksheets, Excel Math lessons include hands-on visuals and manipulatives, stretches (brainteasers), cooperative learning activities, interactive opportunities (including Projectable Lessons) and a new Common Core Edition coming for fall. You also receive easy-to-teach lessons (to use as a supplement or in a core position), guided practice, basic Fact Practice, Homework, and regular assessments. Walk through a lesson on our website: www.excelmath.com/tour/tour01.html

At Excel Math,  we appreciate teachers! That's why we provide lots of free teacher helps and resources on our website. And it's why we continually update our math lessons to provide teachers with the best materials possible. This certificate is a small token of our appreciation for your perseverance and enthusiasm for your students. Feel free to print it for yourself (just add your name on the blank line) or pass it on to a deserving colleague. For student certificates and awards, visit our website: www.excelmath.com/downloads.html

Now that we're beginning the month of May, plan a May Day celebration for your students with some math thrown in for good measure. Talk about the shapes of various objects around your classroom. Point out a cone, cylinder, sphere, cube, and other shapes your students can identify.

Explain that in honor of the month of May, everyone will make a cone shape and then turn it into a May basket. Give each student a colorful sheet of heavy paper or cardboard. Let him roll it into a cone shape. Provide scissors to trim the top of the cone opening. Tape the cone together. Let the student punch a hole on each side of the cone, then string a chenille wire handle through the holes, bending it slightly to form a handle. (Or download a May basket pattern from Scholastic.com.)

You can have each student measure the diameter of the cone opening and then calculate the radius by dividing the diameter in  half. Let the students work in pairs to check their work.

If you have time, let your students make tissue paper flowers to put in the cone basket. Give the students each a half piece of paper on which to write a cheery spring greeting or decorate a card for a family member or friend. Encourage each student to leave a flower basket on their friend's doorknob (without being noticed, if possible).

While the students work, talk about May Day traditions and the May Pole. May Day is historically a joyful and festive time of dancing, singing and bright decorations. Wrapping a May pole with colorful ribbons as people dance around the pole is one of the ways people have celebrated for centuries. Some towns in England and Scotland take a holiday on May Day and hold town fairs complete with parades where children carry beautiful garlands of flowers. Read more about May Day at the Edina Historical Society blog.

Are you planning any special May celebrations in your classroom? Share one that your students enjoy by leaving a comment in the box below. (Click on the word comment.)