Additional Math Pages & Resources

Monday, December 4, 2017

Giving Students Feedback in Your Math Class

New math standards are asking teachers to facilitate discussions and encourage collaborative problem solving among students in the math classroom.

Giving students effective feedback and helping them to "explain their thinking" will let you determine their depth of understanding. It will also give you a chance to clear up any misconceptions before moving on to more difficult concepts.

Excel Math lessons have discussion questions and teaching tips built into the Teacher Edition for Kindergarten through Grade Six.

Create A Problem Exercises begin with Grade 2 and provide a template for students to write and solve their own word problems, merging math with literacy. In Excel Math we suggest the teacher help students verbalize the problem-solving strategies they use as they solve problems.
Create A Problem from Excel Math lesson sheets for Grade 3

Describing the process can help their classmates understand that at times there can be several correct ways to solve one problem. Remind your students to show their work as they solve the problem so if they have errors in the solution, they can find and fix them more easily.

Explain that making mistakes and correcting them is the way to improve and learn. Excel Math includes a unique CheckAnswer system beginning in Grade 2 that lets students check their own work. Most of the time, students can find and correct their mistakes on their own.

When they need more help, a parent or teacher can help them work through the problem to find the correct answer.

Here are three steps to giving students effective feedback:
1. Ask if they understand the question or problem:
a. What information are they trying to obtain? Have them circle the question.

b. What information have they been given? Have them draw a line under the information that will be needed and cross out the information that will not be needed.

c. Do they have the information that they need to get the answer? Find out if the information they have is enough to answer the question.
2. If there is not enough information, ask the student to tell you what information they would need to answer the question or solve the problem.

3. If there is enough information, ask the student to tell you if they underlined the correct information that will be needed. Did they underline too much or little information to solve the problem? If so, have them fix it.

After following these three steps with your students, try using questions and statements rather giving answers when someone is having trouble remembering what to do to solve a math problem. You could ask:
What do you think you need to do first to find the answer?
Do you understand what the question is asking? Tell me in your own words. (This is a good place to make sure any vocabulary words used in the problem are clearly defined and understood.)

What steps should you take to find the solution?

Show me how you figured that out.

Tell me about the problem-solving strategy you used.

What other ways could you have solved this problem?
Take a look at the strategies you use to give your students feedback.

Do any of them need to be modified? Could you use the buddy system to have students help each other find the solutions? Share your suggestions in the Comments box below.

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

Also find math resources for teachers, parents and students and download a sample packet at

Monday, October 23, 2017

Happy Mole Day!

Know the math behind chemistry? Then you’ve likely heard of Avagadro’s number (6.023 × 1023) that’s used as a basic unit of measure in chemistry. 

This number is more commonly referred to as a mole.

Mole Day is observed on October 23rd from 6:02 am to 6:02 pm, and can include anything mole related.

Activities can range from eating guacamolé to making a felt mole, experimenting with molecules, or researching the creation of mola textiles. The punnier, the better.

Here's a colorful framed mola our relatives picked up in their travels to Panama. The mola or molas is handmade textile art native to the islands of Panama.

Using the fabric of their choice, students can make a small stuffed toy mole to help them remember that a mole in chemistry is actually 6.023 × 1023.

See our blog post from several years ago for a creative felt mole pattern:
Celebrate Mole Day In the Classroom

In  Excel Math, we help students apply math to everyday life. For over 40 years, Excel Math has help students excel in math. In fact, schools that use Excel Math see improved test scores and high student engagement with elementary mathematics—even after the first year! 

Here's what teachers and administrators are saying:
"I’ve used Excel Math for many years . . . and loved it!  In Laredo, Texas, I started using Excel Math with excellent test results. Each year produced 95% to 100% of the students passing their Texas State Tests. This also includes the two years I taught in Houston. I’m currently in Oklahoma, and will again use Excel Math with my 4th graders. 
I was nominated and won Teacher of the Year for my school campus, Hoover Elementary. I completely believe this happened because of the EXCELlent Math program you provide!!! I’ve used Excel Math for many years . . . and love it! I’m VERY excited to use this program again, and can’t wait to compare the scores from last school year to this. Thank you so very much!!"
— Susan Vilar, 4th Grade Teacher, Hoover Elementary School, Tulsa, OK
Take a quick tour of Excel Math here. Now fix yourself some guaca-mole using your favorite guacamole recipe. 

Enjoy a snack break with some chips and dip while you read more about moles, mole day and Excel Math. 

Use guacamole or any favorite recipe as a math word problem by having your students triple the recipe or divide it in half, adjusting the ingredients and quantities accordingly. 

Have your class calculate how many tortillas you'll need if each student in the class gets a quarter or half of a tortilla. 

Then let your students figure out how many tortillas they would need for 3 classes with 24, 26 and 30 students in each class. 
Then try an experiment with molecules and density from Excel Math Grade 6 Activity. (Excel Math  Activities are hands-on projects in back of the Teacher Editions, not included on the Student Lesson Sheets):
Begin by explaining the concept of density to the students. 
Help them understand that every object or volume has a certain number of very small units called molecules. 
Density is a measure of the amount of molecules in a given object or volume. Draw two figures like the following on the board and ask the students if they can tell which box has a higher density. 
Help them understand that an object with a lot of molecules has a high density while an object with fewer molecules has a lower density.
Explain that fluids such as water also have densities. Ask the students what would happen if you dropped an ice cube into a glass of water. Would it float or sink? Use a tally chart to record the class opinions.
Ask them to explain the difference in density between the ice cube and the water. Then drop an ice cube in a glass of water so the class can see which hypothesis was correct. Talk about why the students' hypotheses were or were not correct.
Read our previous post for more density experiment suggestions: Celebrate Mole Day In the Classroom

How will you celebrate Mole Day this year? Leave a comment below to let us know.

New to Excel Math? See samples on our website:

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Base Ten Pumpkins for 10/10

Celebrate today's date of 10/10 with Base Ten Pumpkin Cards, a Free download for your class.

Print a set of cards for each student or have them share the cards.

Provide acorns, pumpkin seeds, buttons or raisins for counters.

Or have each student cut the pumpkin shapes from an extra set of cards.

Help your students practice addition, subtraction and counting on.
Pumpkin Seeds

This is a great way to welcome in the harvest season with math!

Complete instructions and colorful patterns are included in the Free Base Ten Cards PDF file.

You may want to roast some extra pumpkin seeds and salt them slightly so your students can snack on the seeds while doing the math.

Excel Math lessons for Kindergarten through Grade 6 have an intricate spiraling process that helps math concepts "stick".

Students learn math for the long term when they use Excel Math.

And because math concepts stay in front of students on a regular basis, they are able to retain concepts from week to week, month to month, and year to year without drill and kill and without having to cram for the test.

Schools using Excel Math see test scores rise, even the first year after Excel Math is used.

Here's what one teacher told us:
"I love Excel Math! Some of my slower students were so excited about the CheckAnswer component. I was surprised and pleased by their response. I could see their confidence improving right away!"

— Jennifer Price, 4th Grade Teacher, West Virginia

See what others are saying . . . 

You may also enjoy these articles:
Classroom Management Tips
5 Steps to Building Math Success 
Five-Minute Math Class Warm-Ups: Adding Time Intervals
Overcoming Math Anxiety in the Classroom

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Every Day Should Be World Teachers' Day!

October 5 is World Teachers' Day, a time set aside to honor and thank teachers.

According to recent research, top-notch teachers help students succeed.

This comes as no surprise to most educators.

Effective teachers can boost the test scores of students who have previously struggled.

However, one day a year just doesn't seem enough to properly thank those individuals who have mentored and guided a generation or more of our children.
Here at Excel Math, every day gives us a chance to recognize educators.

This month we're giving teachers a FREE Glossary of Math Terms in English and Spanish to thank you for the time and effort you spend educating, nurturing and challenging students.

Feel free to copy the Glossary for your students and colleagues.

Let us know how long you've been teaching and what ages you teach in the comments box below.  Continue reading . . .

You may also enjoy these articles:

Classroom Management Tips
5 Steps to Building Math Success 
Five-Minute Math Class Warm-Ups: Adding Time Intervals
Overcoming Math Anxiety in the Classroom

Monday, September 25, 2017

Relax with a Book for Math Storytelling Day

Monday, September 25 is Math Storytelling Day.

A great day to pick a favorite book, sit back and relax.

Or, if you happen to be teaching, choose a fun book about math or numbers to share with your students.

This is a day set aside to read and tell stories about anything to do with math.

Here are a few books for the younger crowd:

  • Math Curse
  • Inch by Inch
  • One Grain of Rice
  • The Greedy Triangle
  • A Remainder of One,
  • A Place for Zero
  • Measuring Penny
  • The Grapes of Math
  • How Big Is a Million?
  • Sir Cumference,
  • Anno's Magic Seeds
  • Even Steven and Odd Todd
  • Mouse Count
  • Fish Eyes
Older children might enjoy:
  • Encyclopedia Brown myteries (you solve them)
  • From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler
  • Magic Treehouse stories
Teens or preteens as well as adults may find some math gems in these books:

The Eight by Katherine Neville
The Givenchy Code by Julie Kenner
Agatha Christie mysteries 
Hidden Figures by Margot Lee Shetterly
Sherlock Holmes adventures by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
And students who want to learn more about math and begin to develop a deeper understanding of pre-algebra and middle school math will enjoy Kiss My Math and other books by Danica McKellar.

Pick some of these or any book that tells a math story and share it (or a chapter) with your students.

You may also want to have your class try some multi-paragraph word problems. Excel Math includes Create A Problem exercises on the Student Lesson Sheets for Grades 2-6 about once a week, on the back of tests. Here's one from Grade 5:
Excel Math Create A Problem Grade 5
Do these expanded word problems together as a class to help your students develop techniques for solving word problems and then begin writing some of their own.

Take a look at samples on the Excel Math website: Sample Lessons
Click on the word Problem in the chart to take a look at Create A Problem samples at each grade level.

For math lessons that really work, visit Excel Math online.

You may also like these articles:

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Celebrating Pythagorean Theorem Day!

Any day is a good time to celebrate math, but today's date can actually be written as a mathematical theorem!

Pythagorean Theorem Day occurs any time the date aligns to the Pythagorean Theorem. 

This theorem suggests that for any right triangle with with sides of length a, b and c: 
a2 + b2 = c2

The date Aug. 15, 2017, when written as 8 - 15 - 17, can be used to form the triangle side lengths 8, 15 and 17. 

We can use those lengths to write the Pythagorean Theorem: 
82 + 152 = 172

Check this by doing the math to see if the solution is correct: 64 + 225 = 289
Can you figure out when the last Pythagorean Theorem Day was held? 

See below for the answer.

Can you guess when the next one will be?

With Excel Math, students gain confidence in math. Math concepts build on each other in an intricate spiraling process.

This approach helps students see that math concepts are related and progressive.

Excel Math lessons introduce students to new concepts while reviewing previously-taught concepts. These proven lessons give students an opportunity to master the old, while being challenged with the new.

Students work with a variety of math concepts each day. They tackle a variety of word problems. They learn to evaluate and solve problems, rather than perform algorithms by rote.

Students receive immediate feedback on their progress through Excel Math’s unique CheckAnswer system.

All of this for just $12 per student for an entire year of lessons and tests! Download an order form here.

Help your students build confidence in math and retain math concepts for the long term with Excel Math for Kindergarten through Grade 6.

Take a look at sample lessons and download sample packs on our website.

The last Pythagorean Theorem Day was just last year: 1/15/16
The next one will be in three years: 12/16/20

How are you celebrating Pythagorean Theorem Day? Share your ideas in the comment box.

Happy 40th Anniversary, Excel Math!