## Thursday, November 28, 2013

### Fostering an Attitude of Gratitude

This week we celebrate Thanksgiving. A perfect time to help your students reflect on those people they are thankful to know. Let your students brainstorm about the influential people in their lives (parents, teachers, neighbors, relatives, a special coach or tutor, a pastor or rabbi, a club advisor or counselor, etc.).

The list could go on and on. Have the class share some of the words they would use to describe these people who are important to them. Let volunteers print some of these descriptor words on the board.
As the holidays get in to full swing, encourage each student to write a brief note of appreciation and gratitude to one or more of the people who have had an impact on his or her life. Use one of these card patterns or let each student create a unique design with cardboard, colored paper, paint, nature items or stickers.

For a 3-D look, have your students cut out the small card patterns and stick them on the front or inside of the card backed with a piece of thick tape or glued to a small piece of sponge.

Here are a few more activities to help your students practice showing an attitude of gratitude, even in the midst of the holiday frenzy.

Excel Math is fully aligned to the Common Core and to state standards. Download correlations here.

If you have some special activities you use to foster an attitude of gratitude in your students, we'd love to hear about them! Leave a comment in the box below (click on the word Comment) to tell us more.

## Tuesday, November 26, 2013

### 5 Fun Ways to Add Fractions

When students begin learning about fractions, confusion can easily set in. At times it may seem that a thick fog over your classroom has screened out any rational thinking and logic has simply flown out the window.

Here are five activities from Excel Math to bring some clarity back to your students and help them get a solid start on the fraction track.

What is our No. 1 suggestion for teaching students to add fractions?

1. Use manipulatives and visuals including counters, fraction pieces, drawings, paper and scissors, tile and flooring, a school or community garden, fruit, snacks classroom tables, and even your classroom or storage closet. Give your students hands-on experiences with breaking apart wholes into fractional parts and putting the parts together again. Here's one idea.

Give each pair of students a pack of blank 4 x 6-inch index cards. Let the students work in pairs to discover how many cards it takes to cover a desk when the cards are touching but not overlapping, with no gaps between them. Then ask the class to calculate how many cards would be needed to cover 1/4 of the desk, 1/2 of the desk, 1/3 of the desk, etc.

Excel Math is designed to combine math worksheets with hands-on activities and active learning. Our unique spiraling process helps students retain the math concepts for the long term.

Excel Math is fully aligned to the Common Core and to state standards. Download correlations here.

If you have some special activities you use to introduce fractions to your students, we'd love to hear them! Leave a comment in the box below to tell us about them.

## Saturday, November 23, 2013

### Fibonacci Day Math 11-23

Happy Fibonacci Day!

Mathematicians celebrate Fibonacci Day on November 23 or 11/23, which are the first four numbers in the Fibonacci sequence shown below.

The Fibonacci Series is a sequence of numbers first created by Leonardo Fibonacci (born in Pisa, Italy) in 1202 and introduced in his writing, Liber abaci.

In this work he introduced the Latin-speaking world to the decimal number system. Later this sequence of numbers was named the Fibonacci sequence in his honor.

The Fibonacci series begins with 0 or 1. After that, use the simple rule: Add the last two numbers to get the next number in the sequence. See the series in action at thinkquest.org.

This is readily translatable into the following set of equations [Liber abaci 3, p4]:
• 1 = 1²
• 1 + 3 = 2²
• 1 + 3 + 5 = 3²
• 1 + 3 + 5 + 7 = 4²
and suggests the general formula:
• 1 + 3 + ... + (2n-1) = n²
From this number statement come the famous Fibonacci numbers:
1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, 34, 55, 89, 144, 233, 377, 610, 987, ...

where the first two numbers of the series are 1 and 1 and each number afterward is defined as the sum of the two previous terms, Fn = Fn - 2 + Fn - 1
In Fibonacci's sequence the first number was 1 and the second number was two, the first one was assumed. Read more on our previous blog post, Fibonacci's Spiral and Excel Math

Excel Math also uses a unique spiraling system, similar to that found in the nautilus shell (pictured) to help students retain math concepts over the long term.  \This unique spiraling strategy introduces new math concepts to students while reviewing previously-taught concepts.

Spiraling the math concepts gives students the opportunity to master the old through spaced repetition, 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.
 Excel Math Spiraling Process for math lessons that really work!
This spiraling strategy of repeating concepts at regular intervals throughout the curriculum is an integral part of Excel Math.
"Excel Math allowed me to effectively teach math at two grade levels...without it I don't know how I would have hit all standards and provided the review and practice the students required to succeed.Excel Math provides a solid framework, allowing the teacher to put their own flavor and flare into each lesson or concept. I love Excel Math...it has helped me become a stronger math teacher, and I KNOW it has increased my students' confidence in math (and their test scores!)."
—Anne Evans, Teacher in Idaho

Read more about what teachers, parents and principals around the country are saying about how their students begin to develop a love for math.
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. Excel Math is fully aligned to the Common Core and to state standards. Download correlations here.

This year, Fibonacci Day falls on the Saturday before Thanksgiving. From everyone at Excel Math, Happy Fibonacci Day!

Read more about Fibonacci, Roman numerals, spiraling and the decimal system on our previous blog posts:
Fibonacci—810 Years of Mathematical Magic
Celebrating Fibonacci Day
Fibonacci's Spiral and Excel Math

## Friday, November 22, 2013

### Counting All Coins: Kennedy Half Dollars

Today marks the 50th anniversary of the death of John F. Kennedy. When our much-loved 35th president was assassinated on November 22, 1963, our nation was deeply saddened and shocked.

The fact that it happened during a motorcade in Dallas as crowds lined the streets and others watched the televised broadcast added to the turmoil and grief.

There was such strong public sentiment that Congress made a special law to commemorate President Kennedy on a coin—the half-dollar.

In February 1964, the first Kennedy half-dollars were struck.

In Excel Math, we teach students how to add dollars, half dollar and coins and make sense of monetary calculations. Pictured below is a Guided Practice page from the Excel Math Second Grade Teacher's Edition.

New to Excel Math? Preview elementary math lessons that really work for Kindergarten through Sixth Grade: www.excelmath.com/tour/tour01.html

Remember, Excel Math lessons are much more than just worksheets. Using strategically placed spaced repetition, Excel Math gives you a proven approach to teach math concepts for long-term retention, with powerful features including our unique Spiraling Strategy and CheckAnswer systemRead more about Excel Math and try a sample lesson.

## Wednesday, November 20, 2013

### Those Fantastic Fractional Parts

Here are some fun activities to help your students partition circles and rectangles into equal shares. In the process younger students will describe the shares using the words halves and fourths or quarters.

Older students will divide objects into smaller shares using the words thirds and a third of, and eventually using smaller and smaller fractional parts.

For each student provide scissors, 2 graham crackers, 2 round crackers, a letter-size piece of paper, an envelope and a paper plate. If you like, bring a pie cut in half along with a knife to divide it further as you talk about various fractional parts.

Give each student scissors, 2 graham crackers, a letter-size piece of paper, an envelope, and a paper plate. Ask the students to cut the paper in half to form 2 equal shares (they can fold it first to form a cutting line). Ask them how many halves make one whole. (2)

Now have the students fold one rectangular shaped paper in half to form two equal triangles. Ask them how many triangular halves make a whole. (2)

Have the students sort the items by shape. Let them describe which are circles, which are triangles and which are rectangles. (circles = paper plate, round crackers; triangles = paper halves; rectangles = graham crackers, paper halves, envelope)

New to Excel Math? Preview elementary math lessons that really work for Kindergarten through Sixth Grade: www.excelmath.com/tour/tour01.html

## Thursday, November 14, 2013

### Thanksgiving Math

 Click for a larger view
In just two weeks we celebrate Thanksgiving here in the United States. On December 26, 1941 Congress passed a law designating the fourth Thursday in November as Thanksgiving Day. Ever since, we've gathered for turkey (or tofu), potatoes, pumpkin pie and a time of giving thanks.

Although Thanksgiving is widely considered an American holiday, it is also celebrated on the second Monday in October in Canada.
Here's a turkey bulletin board you can use to help your students recall math facts as well as to teach them character traits that will have parents and teachers giving thanks. Let each student use a paper plate for a base and cut colorful construction paper feathers and a turkey body to glue to the base. Cut out extra feathers and print a positive character trait on each.

New to Excel Math? Preview elementary math lessons that really work for Kindergarten through Sixth Grade: www.excelmath.com/tour/tour01.html

## Monday, November 11, 2013

### Veteran's Day — Thanking Our Heroes

 Arlington National Cemetery
In honor of Veteran's Day, a big thank-you to all of our vets and to those people currently serving in the U.S. military.

We owe you more than words can express.

The Veterans Day National Ceremony is held each year on November 11th at Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia (pictured left).

The ceremony begins at 11:00 a.m. with a wreath laying at the Tomb of the Unknowns (shown below).
 Laying of the Wreath at the Tomb of the Unknowns

The Veterans Day ceremony continues inside the Memorial Amphitheater with a parade of colors by veterans' organizations and remarks from dignitaries. The ceremony is held each year to honor and thank all who served in the United States Armed Forces.

Each year for 17 years, my husband took his middle school students back to Washington D.C. and New York. A few years after his final trip, our daughter went on a similar trip with her eighth grade class. These photos capture just a few of the monuments and historical sites they visited: Arlington Cemetery, The Tomb of the Unknowns, The World War II Memorial, and the Vietnam Memorial Wall.
 World War II Memorial Washington D.C.

The Vietnam Veterans Memorial wall was also a very  moving experience. The wall chronologically lists the names of more than 58,000 Americans who gave their lives in service to their country. Many people take rubbings of their relative's name as a keepsake of their visit to the wall.

The photo below captures one student's well-written tribute to his fallen uncle:
"Dear Uncle John, Thank you for risking your life to keep mine safe. I know it must have been scary to run into tunnels five feet high and flooded with Vietnamese soldiers. It must have been hard knowing that you might not come back. you must have had real courage to do that. Thank Uncle John. Thank you all the veterans who fought for this country's freedom."
 Vietnam Veterans Memorial
Download free resources for celebrating veterans, their stories and their contributions to our country: http://www.va.gov/opa/publications/celebrate_americas_freedoms.asp

Do you need some proven math resources to help your students get ready for spring testing and assessments? Try the Excel Math Summer School/Intersession 6-week program. Take a look at samples on our website or give us a call to find out more. The cost is just \$6.25 per student for the entire 30 lessons.

Excel Math lessons also work well in a blended learning environment. You can use technology along with the lessons and Student Lesson Sheets. (Check out our Projectable Lessons on CD for each grade level.)

You might also like these articles:
From Stress to Success with Excel Math

New to Excel Math? Preview elementary math lessons that really work for Kindergarten through Sixth Grade on our website: www.excelmath.com.

## Wednesday, November 6, 2013

### From Stress to Success with Excel Math

Mastering mathematics at the elementary school level can be stressful for many students (not to mention parents and teachers). Excel Math helps remove the stress by giving students incremental math concepts that spiral through the Student Lesson Sheets (through spaced repetition) and are reinforced and mastered with Guided Practice, homework and regular assessments.

Excel Math students remember concepts because they practice them regularly. They learn to master basic skills and then use those skills in more complex ways as they move those concepts into long-term memory. Students get excited because they finally achieve success in mathematics!

It's no surprise that many graduates of Excel Math leave elementary school feeling math is their favorite subject!

Excel Math lessons also work well in a blended learning environment. You can use technology along with the lessons and Student Lesson Sheets. (Check out our Projectable Lessons on CD for Grades K -  6.)

Do you need some proven math resources to help your students get ready for spring testing? Try the Excel Math Summer School/Intersession 6-week program.

You might also like these articles:

New to Excel Math? Preview elementary math lessons that really work for Kindergarten through Sixth Grade on our website: www.excelmath.com.

## Tuesday, November 5, 2013

### Doughnut Math

Today is National Doughnut Day! Back in June we celebrated National Donut Day (pictured), which recognizes the "Donut Lassies"who worked for the Salvation Army during World War I handing out doughnuts to American soldiers in France.

On November 5 we celebrate the actual food (thus the word "dough"). The first donuts came from the Dutch, were called "oily cakes" and didn’t have a hole. They were fried in hot oil and the dough was sweet. Read more at eatocracy.CNN.com

We've removed most sweet treats from our Excel Math curriculum so we don't promote tooth decay or other not-so-great habits among students. However, doughnuts are still a favorite at AnsMar Publishers, Inc., where the curriculum is created (though we try not to indulge very often).

With Excel Math, students learn addition and subtraction plus foundational math concepts. Our unique spiraling process helps students retain those concepts over the long term. Learn more and take a look at www.excelmath.com. You can also download our free Excel Math Placement Test for Kindergarten through Grade 6 to make sure your new students are starting at the optimal grade level. Grab a cup of coffee and a doughnut and surf on over to www.excelmath.com for lots of great math resources.

To celebrate this yummy day of doughnuts, have your students make up word problems using doughnuts. Calculate how many dozen doughnuts you would need to have if you gave each person in the class one doughnut. (Don't forget the teacher!) If your students are learning to multiply using decimals, let them calculate the total cost if the doughnuts cost \$3.50/dozen and they buy enough for the class and then find the cost per doughnut. Finally have the class calculate the total if the doughnuts cost \$4.20/dozen. How much more would it cost to feed the whole class at the higher price?

This might be a good time to explain the concept of a "baker's dozen" or 13 doughnuts instead of 12. It was the practice of medieval English bakers to give thirteen rolls when twelve were purchased, to protect themselves against accusations of the rolls weighing too little. The bread was sold by weight, not by number of pieces. Bakers could be flogged for selling bread that was under weight. So whenever they sold bread in any quantity, the bakers added something extra to make sure the total weight wasn't short. Read more about the baker's dozen at www.phrases.org.uk.

If you'd like to try making your own doughnuts, an easy recipe is to start with canned refrigerator biscuits. Separate the biscuit dough. Cut a small hole in the middle of each piece of dough. Heat 1 - 2 inches of oil to medium high heat in a cast iron or heavy skillet. Drop in a doughnut hole to test. Turn it once using tongs and remove it when nicely browned. Drain it on a brown paper grocery bag.

Add several doughnuts and holes to the oil, brown, turn them and drain on a brown paper bag. Turn down the heat if the oil gets too hot. Then use the tongs to dip the warm donuts in powdered sugar or a mixture of cinnamon sugar. Let cool, then eat.

New to Excel Math? Preview elementary math lessons that really work for Kindergarten through Sixth Grade on our website: www.excelmath.com.