## Friday, July 18, 2014

### 6 Steps for Engaging Elementary Math Students

Jennifer Bay-Williams, mathematics teacher educator at the University of Louisville, shares three lessons she hopes pre-service teachers in her mathematics methods course take away from the class.

Her tips include:
• engaging students in challenging tasks
• using higher-level questions in the classroom and
• tailoring instruction to students' specific needs.

Excel Math lessons give teachers the resources they need to engage elementary math students in challenging mathematics tasks without the frustration and anxiety they often experience when learning math.

Here are six steps for engaging elementary students in math tasks:

1. Begin with Bell Work. Help students get on task as soon as they enter your classroom by giving them a specific "go-to" assignment each day.

You could write a few problems on the board or use the Excel Math Basic Fact Practice section of the Student Lesson Sheets. Younger students could begin by copying numbers from the board or writing numbers you say aloud and then using counters or Ten Frames to represent those numbers. Math games for individual and partner play are also great ways to engage students at the beginning of class. Prepare to give the class a 2-minute warning when bell work time is almost up so they can prepare to transition to the next activity.

2. Let students solve real-world problems. Let your students count a dozen eggs (or donuts), figure out the cost per egg or donut when given the cost for a dozen, measure the perimeter of the classroom (or their desktops), estimate the length of the hallway, measure planks of wood and determine how many would be needed to lay a new classroom floor, calculate the time they have to wait from the first bell until recess or lunch, figure out how many square feet of tiles would be needed to tile the classroom, etc.

3. Include Hands-on Activities. Give your students a chance to form cubes and prisms, use art materials to create numbers, play cooperative math games (and make up some of their own), use measuring devices to make snacks and then divide the snacks evenly among their classmates, , in each Teacher Guide give students new ways to explore mathematics and solve real-world math problems.

4. Merge math with literacy. Share some of your favorite math poems and songs, read math stories, give your students word problems and let them write some of their own, merge math with literacy and challenge students to create and solve their own word problems. Create A Problem exercises in Excel Math give students a chance to figure out more complex word problems and create their own problems (and the solutions) for their classmates to solve.

5. Use discussion starters to help students collaborate, share ideas, talk about different ways to solve a problem and analyze various problem-solving techniques. Let students explain their thinking to each other as they tackle math problems and look for solutions. Set up brain-storming sessions, partner sharing and small-group discussions. Teach your students to listen actively and to summarize the other person's comments before sharing their own ideas. Students develop critical-thinking skills and begin to be willing to share their ideas with their classmates as you give then opportunities to talk about the steps they took to explore and solve math problems in a safe and open environment.

6. Give students opportunities to be successful. Before we challenge students, we can build their confidence by letting them solve easier problems, find and correct their mistakes, and encourage a growth mindset (I can do this). Your example will encourage your students to understand that there can often be more than one way to solve a problem and that we can learn from our mistakes (share the story of how Post-It Notes were invented by accident). As your students grow in confidence, they will be more willing to take risks and try more difficult tasks. Excel Math Stretches (brain teasers) beginning with Grade 2 challenge students to solve more complex problems and find solutions to logic questions and word problems.

The Assess As You Go feature of Excel Math lets students check their work and correct their own mistakes using the CheckAnswer (built into Student Lesson Sheets beginning in Grade 2). Students are usually able to find and correct their mistakes on their own. When they do get stumped by a problem, the teacher or parent can step in to help. Being able to self-assess encourage a growth mindset in students who realize they can figure things out on their own. Students discover that mistakes can actually enhance the learning process and we can learn from them.

Excel Math has a unique spiraling strategy that produces confident students who become successful at mathematics. Some students find they begin to love math after learning with Excel Math!

Just look what happened in Texas at Howry Elementary after using Excel Math for just one year—test scores for their fifth grade students increased 25%!

Take a look at these amazing results:
Choose the Excel Math lessons that best fit your students' needs and let us send you a sample:

Common Core Editions—written to guide teachers and students through the new Common Core Standards. Teacher Editions include quarterly test tables that show the CCS concepts covered and in which lesson they were initially taught. See Common Core samples . . .

Texas Editions—a smooth transition to the new TEKS, introducing the new math skills now required at each grade level with our unique spiraling approach to get those concepts into your students' long-term memory. Texas Teacher Editions include quarterly test tables that show the TEKS concepts covered and in which lesson they were initially taught. See Texas samples . . .

Standard Excel Math Editions—our proven lessons with new teacher tips and online resources. Teacher friendly lessons and student successes make it a good fit for any classroom or homeschool situation. See Excel Math Standard Edition samples . . .