## Friday, September 23, 2016

### You Can Be a Math Storyteller!

September 25 is Math Storytelling Day. On this day, those of us who love math can have fun making up and sharing math-related stories. Stories can involve puzzles, logic problems, brain teasers, sports, pets, work and home life—just about anything, as long as math is involved.

Scholastic has a fun website called Math Maven's Mysteries where students can solve various detective stories involving math of various difficulty levels. Topics include logical reasoning, fractions, money, decimals, patterns, measurement, geometry, and more. A teacher's guide is included. Math Maven's Mysteries can be a teacher-guided or independent student activity, depending on the reading level of the students. The mysteries are rated by difficulty level.

Some of your students may enjoy the short mysteries by Donald J. Sobol. His hero, Encyclopedia Brown, often solves detective problems using logic, money, telling time or simple math such as in The Case of the Two-Dollar Bill.

Magic Tree House books often include math as well as science and geography.

Your students may enjoy creating their own stories involving math and then sharing them with the class. For a more involved project, have them write and illustrate their stories on colored paper. Add a cardboard cover to make a book, complete with the author's bio. Then let your students share their books with younger students at your school, with their families, with local boys and girls' clubs, or with seniors in your neighborhood.
Here's a story problem from Excel Math 3rd grade (the answer is given below):
Three children caught a total of 12 fish. They each caught the same number of fish. How many fish did each child catch?
In Excel Math, students tackle more in-depth word problems in 2nd through 6th grades. In addition to shorter problems similar to the one above, Excel Math has a unique take on story problems, called Create A Problem. With these more complex word problems, students are given a chance to express their own understanding of a story problem.
Create A Problem exercises merge math and literacy as they help students develop higher-order thinking skills.

Create A Problem lessons start with simple stories and give students a chance to observe what is happening in the story. They then use those observations to have the students solve one- and two-step word problems. Later in the curriculum, we ask students to create a problem or two, and make up their own CheckAnswers. (Read about the CheckAnswer system in our previous blog post.)

Finally, students are able to finish a story in their own words and write several problems about their story ending. This demonstrates mastery AND integration. The format of the page allows longer answers, along with charts, graphs and other expressions of the students' solutions. Here's an example from Grade 4:

And the answer to our fish story problem? Each child caught four fish. Show students how to check their answer with addition: 4 + 4 + 4 = the total number of fish caught by the three children or 12. Point out that the problem said all three children caught the same number of fish, so an answer of 5 + 3 + 4 would still equal 12, but would not be correct. Each child caught the same number of fish as the others.

## Thursday, September 15, 2016

### Tips & Tricks for Success with Math

Beginning a new math program can be a challenge!

Here's a 5-step plan from Excel Math to help you and your students get off to a strong start this fall:

1. Use the Excel Math Placement Tests

Excel Math provides
FREE Placement Tests to

help you determine where your students should begin in math.

Each Placement Test file contains six tests that evaluate a student's preparedness for Excel Math. The tests are labeled A - F, which correspond to first through sixth grade.

Download the test (in English or Spanish) from our web store http//:excelmath.myshopify.com

Then email us for the answer keys: info@excelmath.com

Save the test to your computer and print it for each new student who begins your class after the school year has started. Instructions for using the tests are included.

2. Give Immediate Feedback
After students turn in an assignment for most classes, they usually have to wait a day or two or more to find out whether they were on track and did the work correctly.

In that brief amount of time, students can easily forget why they made the mistakes they did.

 Projectable Lessons
Those mistakes begin to seep into long-term memory when they are not corrected right away.

And since students haven't yet discovered where or why those mistakes occurred, they keep making the same mistakes again and again as they complete their homework. As a result, the mistakes continue and bad habits begin to form.

With Excel Math, students get immediate feedback so they can easily find and correct their mistakes, switch gears, and start tackling math problems correctly.

Dr. Janice Raymond, the author of Excel Math lessons, incorporated a natural feedback loop with the unique CheckAnswer system. The CheckAnswer lets students see immediately where they've made mistakes and gives them a chance to correct those errors on their own.

It enables students to check their own work and verify for themselves that they understand the concepts in the daily Guided Practice and Homework.

3. Be Flexible
 Excel Math Teacher Edition
Excel Math is designed to be flexible! You may find there is more material each week than you can use, especially if you have field trips and holidays.

Use your own judgment to work through the lessons in their entirety or move quickly through a few days of lessons if your class is comfortable with the concepts.

On those days, let your students spend more time on the Guided Practice portion so they can review a number of different concepts.

Students who finish quickly can tackle the Stretch problem or continue with Basic Fact Practice. We do not recommend jumping around the lessons in a different order, as all the lessons build upon one another.

4. Use the Test Tables for Assessment
Excel Math tests are cumulative. There is a test after every five lessons in Grades 2 - 6 and after every 10 lessons in Grade 1. Kindergarten has just 6 tests over the year. Each grade also has quarterly and end-of-year tests.

The test tables located in the Teacher Edition indicate the concept covered by each test question and the lesson numbers where each concept was taught. After your students complete each test, use the tables to see where they need more review and practice.

5. Download our FREE Guide to Success
When you begin using Excel Math, be sure to download our Strategies for Success with Excel Math.

If you're from Texas, we have a special version of the guide just for you: Strategies for Success with Excel Math - Texas.

This step-by-step guide will help you get off to a running start with Excel Math. If you have questions, we are just a phone call away.

Call us at 1-866-866-7513 Monday - Friday between 8:00 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. (West Coast time)

A friendly person will be glad to start you on the road to success with Excel Math!

You may also like these articles:
Fall Bulletin Boards for the Math Classroom
5 Secrets to Success with Math