Excel Math Tips for Teachers
Celebrating Teachers! October 03, 2017 08:13
October 5 is World Teachers' Day, a time set aside to honor and thank teachers.
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 teachers.
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.
According to recent research, topnotch 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.
Really? We had to fund a research study to make this correlation?
And many students and parents have been pointing this out for years.
The threeyear study by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, is the first largescale research to show, using random student assignment, that some teachers can produce testscore gains regardless of the past performance of their students, according to foundation officials.
For over 40 years, Excel Math has been helping students succeed and even thrive in mathematics. Download our 10 Steps to Success to get started using Excel Math with your students.
New to Excel Math? Preview elementary math lessons that really work for Kindergarten through Sixth Grade on our website: www.excelmath.com.
Download sample lessons from our Common Core Teacher Editions or our Texas Editions (TEKS aligned and STAAR ready).
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Classroom Management Tips September 15, 2017 09:30
As someone who has had to learn how to manage a classroom of students myself, I understand how difficult it can be at times.
Excel Math makes it easy for elementary math teachers to keep students focused on the lesson.
The combination of the daily lesson, Guided Practice, Homework, our unique CheckAnswer system, the detailed spiraling system, and spaced repetition combine to keep kids engaged in learning and reviewing each concept all year long.
Math concepts get into longterm memory as they are practiced multiple times over time.
Excel Math Manipulatives, Create A Problem multiparagraph word problems, and Projectable Lessons provide ways for the students to interact with the teacher and with each other to develop critical thinking and problemsolving skills.
Even so, it helps to have a teacher who is prepared and who communicates expectations to the class—not just at the beginning of the year, but before moving on to the next activity. It's hard to keep a group of kids motivated if the classroom rules are unclear or inconsistent.
Classroom management isn't usually one of the required courses for getting your teaching credential. As a result, the new teacher can feel lost and alone in the middle of a school of hungry piranhas during those first years of teaching.
Preparation can be an important key to classroom management.
When the lesson materials are ready to go and the teacher can keep things moving throughout the day and from one activity to the next, behavior problems are much less likely to take over.
But it also helps to have a defined plan for classroom management along with expectations that are clearly communicated to the students before a new activity begins.
We asked some of our teacher friends to send ideas that have worked for them. The emails are still rolling in, so we'll share more classroom management tips over the next few weeks. Here are a few suggestions to get the discussion started:
Classroom management is huge and neds to begin day one. Consistency and structure are my best friends when it comes to classroom management. I assign classroom monitors each week and require much responsibility with these jobs. Assigning jobs in the classroom allows for community building and lets students know that they are an important part of how our daily routine is managed.
Weekly jobs assigned could include:
 A line leader
 An equipment monitor (responsible for the calendar and handing out papers as needed).
 A librarian (responsible for keeping the library tidy and making sure books from our school library are checked back in and sent back to the library)
 A scrap keeper (the goto student that checks scraps picked up from the classroom)
In addition, there are five tables in our class, and each week one Table Captain is assigned. The Table Captains are responsible at the end of the day to place stickers on behavior charts.
 A messenger (responsible for sending notes to the office or other classrooms)
For me, the key to managing a class effectively is to set clear behavioral and procedural expectations from day #1. Those standards must be clearly taught and constantly reenforced throughout the year.
No pupil should prevent you from teaching, or keep another student from learning.
Student compliance is imperative in creating and maintaining an effective and efficient learning environment.
To accomplish this goal, teachers must react assertively, as opposed to aggressively or non assertively.
Lee Canter, in his book, Assertive Discipline observes:
More than being a director, assertive teachers build positive, trusting relationships with their students and teach appropriate classroom behavior (via direct instruction...describing, modeling, practicing, reviewing, encouraging, and rewarding) to those who don't show it at present. They are demanding, yet warm in interaction; supportive of the youngsters; and respectful in tone and mannerisms when addressing misbehavior. Assertive teachers listen carefully to what their students have to say, speak politely to them, and treat everyone fairly (not necessarily equally).
Because many of our students no longer enter the classroom with the behaviors we expect them to have, we often need to teach them those appropriate behaviors. More and more, we also need to teach them what is appropriate and what is inappropriate behavior. As Cantor points out, this involves much more than just giving commands and expecting them to be followed. That type of classroom management may have worked in our parents' day, but most children today will not follow the rules just because they are commanded to do so.
Some students may not even understand completely what they are being asked to do. We often need to actually show students what is expected and then have them roleplay those behaviors. If our students don't come to school with social skills, we can save ourselves a lot of time and effort (and a few headaches) by teaching them those skills at the beginning of the year and then holding them accountable for their actions each time they enter our classrooms.
Classroom management is a huge topic that is not easily mastered in one or two sessions or even in one or two years of teaching. Teachers (including homeschooling parents) who have strong classroom management techniques continually hone their skills. We'll share feedback from teachers and parents and take a look at additional resources for classroom management in future posts.
If you have an idea that's worked well in your own situation, feel free to leave a comment with your tip. Include your first name, grade/subject you teach, city, and state so we can give you proper credit. Then watch for your suggestion to appear in a future post. If you send us your email (or use the link on the left to become a follower) we'll notify you when it posts. Thanks in advance for contributing!
5 Steps to Building Math Success July 11, 2017 15:49
Beginning a new math program with a new cohort of students can be a challenge! Here are a few ways Excel Math can help you get off to a strong start:
1. Use the Free Excel Math Placement Tests
Excel Math provides FREE Placement Tests to help you determine where your students should begin in math. Each Excel Math 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. Instructions for using the tests are included. Save the test to your computer and print it for each student.
Download the tests (in English or
Spanish) from our web store: Free Placement Test
2. Give Feedback
After students turn in an assignment for most classes, they usually have to wait a day or two to find out whether they were on track and did the work correctly. In that brief amount of time, they can easily forget why they made the mistakes they did. And since they haven't yet discovered where or why those mistakes occurred, they keep making 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 correct their mistakes switch gears and start tackling math problems correctly. Dr. Janice Raymond, the author of Excel Math lessons, created 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.
3. Be Flexible
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.
form.
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
5. Download our FREE Guide to Success
If you or your teachers are using Excel Math for the first time, be sure to download our: Successful Strategies for Using Excel Math.
This stepbystep guide will help you get off to a running start with Excel Math. Try these easytofollow strategies from experienced educators that are designed to help you build student success in mathematics.
 The first 46 weeks of any Excel Math grade level review the previous year’s concepts.
 Excel Math uses a finelytuned spiraling system. Concepts are introduced and reinforced throughout the year. Mastery occurs via Guided Practice, not at the initial presentation of a concept. For this reason, we suggest you teach the lessons in the order they occur in the Excel Math program, without skipping lessons.
 Correlations to CCSS, TEKS and many additional state standards are available on our website: http://excelmath.com/downloads/state_stds.html
 If you have questions, give us a call at 18668667513 Monday  Friday between 8:00 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. (West Coast time) and a friendly person will be glad to start you on the road to success with Excel Math!
FiveMinute Math Class WarmUps: Adding Time Intervals April 04, 2017 02:00
Making every minute count in your math class means giving your students something to do the moment they enter the room. It also means letting them know your expectations so no time is wasted with repeating instructions. At this time of the school year, students may need to relearn some of the procedures you (hopefully) taught them at the beginning of the year. You can give them regular opportunities to practice classroom routines so students can easily remember and explain them.
We wanted to give you some tips for finishing the year on a positive note. How wonderful would it be if your students were on task before the bell rings, already beginning the work of learning mathematics (or whichever subject you teach).
However you begin your class, discipline problems are kept to a minimum when your students know they must be on task from the minute they enter the room. And at the end of class, letting them know the bell does not dismiss them—the teacher does—also helps them stay on task until the teacher signals it's time to leave. Having control of the class, filling each moment with wellprepared activities, and setting up a structured way to begin the lesson that they can count on each day provides students with a sense of security and familiarity.
According to Harry Wong, educational speaker from Mountainview, California, "You would not expect a truck driver to haul an expensive load without first making sure he knew how to drive the truck.Neither can you expect students to succeed if they do not know the routines and procedures of your class." There's no time like the present to get your students on task before class starts. Read more from Harry and Rosemary Wong and download tips from other teachers.
Decide on a WarmUp Activity
Here's a wellthoughtout math class warmup routine from the Teaching Channel: https://www.teachingchannel.org/videos/classwarmuproutine
You can easily adapt Laura Alcala's "Favorite No" warmup activity for elementary math classes. Try it out with the clock exercises below and let us know how it works with your students.
Flower Clocks
If your students need practice telling time, print out the Flower Clock patterns shown above onto heavy paper or cardboard (or let students glue a clock pattern onto a paper plate) and give one to each child along with scissors, a cardboard arrow shape, and a brass paper fastener. Help each child punch a hole in the arrow and in the middle of the plate and use the paper fastener to attach the arrow to the clock face. Let your students use their clocks to show various times as you (or a student) write them on the board.You may want to alternate writing the times in several formats:
2:00
two o'clock
2 o'clock
Then ask your students to tell you what time it will be in 15 minutes. Have them show the new time on their clocks. Finally, have a student write the answer on the board and show the clock to the class so they can check their work. (2:15)
Time Intervals on a Number Line
After your students have had lots of practice with their clocks, show them how to find time intervals on a number line. Copy the Number Line with Time Intervals page for each student. Tell the students a time or write one on the board and have them find it on their number lines. Start with those times marked on the number line and then have the students locate times such as 6:10, 6:35, 7:05, etc. Then ask them to find the time that is 15 minutes more or 10 minutes less than their starting time.
Timed Basic Fact Practice
If your students have access to technology, they'll enjoy this timed math fact practice on the Excel Math website. (Thanks to our friends at the U.S. Department of Energy's Argonne National Laboratory for creating this timed math game and letting us use it.) You can choose which number should be at the high and low ends of the practice and whether to have your students practice addition, subtraction, multiplication, division (formatted as fractions), or random equations. Try out the Excel Math Timed Fact Practice and see how many problems your students can solve in 60 seconds. Then let your students try to beat their personal best times.
Learn more about how Excel Math can work for your students at excelmath.com. Excel Math Teacher Editions are available in three versions: Texas, Common Core, and Standard (Non Common Core) Editions. Download correlations.
New to Excel Math? Learn how to get started.
Overcoming Math Anxiety in the Classroom March 27, 2017 00:00
A University of Chicago science researcher has discovered that highachieving first and secondgraders may experience math anxiety more often than their classmates.The study involved 88 firstgraders and 66 secondgraders in a largecity school system. The team found about half of highachieving students suffer from math anxiety. The researchers suggest some ways of dealing with math anxiety, including having students write about it before they have to actually begin doing math. Read more at upi.com/ScienceNews.
Dr. Sian L. Beilock, a psychologist at the University of Chicago and author of Choke, a book describing the brain’s response to performance pressure, discovered that high math anxiety in first and second grade teachers negatively effects the performance of their students. Read more in Learning Math Without the Anxiety by Dr. Fred Jones.
With Excel Math lessons, anxiety is reduced as teachers are given a systematic way to teach math that minimizes stress for students as well as for the teacher. Students are given tools to build confidence while they learn math concepts.
Mastery is not expected to happen on the same day a new concept is introduced. Instead, concepts are introduced and then reviewed several times during Guided Practice before those concepts are included on homework or tests.
The proprietary Excel Math Spiraling process involves systematic spaced repetition. Students have a chance to see a concept over and over before they are asked to recall it during homework. Repetition helps put the concepts into longterm memory so students are prepared for tests. Anxiety is minimized, and students begin to be confident that math is doable and achievable (and even fun). Read more in our previous blog post, "Giving Math Students the Opportunity to Make Mistakes."
According to Judy Willis M.D., a neurologist and author of Learning to Love Math, anxiety can literally cut off the working memory needed to learn and solve problems. So how does Excel Math work to reduce anxiety? It's simple. The teacher teaches the lesson (provided in the Teacher Edition) to the students. Using optional Projectable Lesson slides displayed on a whiteboard or screen, the teacher can explain to the students how to solve the problems and then have a student show the rest of the class how it's done.
During this time, the teacher slowly walks students through the practice problems one step at a time. Initial questions and any confusion can be addressed here.
“We wanted to let you know that Robbinsville Elementary school was awarded the title School of Distinction during the 20112012 school year. We were recognized, in large part, as a result of high math scores—96 percent of 4th graders passed the state end of grade exam! Thanks to Excel Math for helping our students succeed in math."
How do you reduce your students' anxiety in the classroom? Share your suggestions in our comments section below.
Our Founding Fathers on Currency February 20, 2017 13:49
Both Thomas Jefferson and George Washington are featured on coins and bills. Read more about presidents (and their spouses) on coins in our previous post.
In Excel Math, we help students recognize coins, calculate cost per unit, solve word problems using mental multiplication, and calculate change using the fewest coins. Not every student will become a mathematician, but each one can learn to view math as something achievable and useful in every day life.
Many graduates of Excel Math tell us math is now their favorite subject. Here's an example of a fourth grade Excel Math Student Lesson Sheet about calculating change. (Download Excel Math worksheets from our website.) See if you can solve problems 16:
Can you name the other statesmen who appear on dollar bills (in addition to presidents)? The answer appears at the bottom of this post.
Continuing with the presidents who appear on bills, President Thomas Jefferson is on the two dollar bill. We don't see too many of these anymore:
President Abraham Lincoln appears on the five dollar bill:
President Ulysses S. Grant appears on the fifty dollar bill:
The other statesmen who appear on dollar bills (not presidents):
Alexander Hamilton appears on the ten dollar bill. Here's one that tore in half as soon as it was picked up (don't try this at home):
Benjamin Franklin appears on the 100 dollar bill:
Getting Current with Currency December 05, 2016 08:48
There are twelve different Federal Reserve Banks responsible for printing paper money in the United States.
In Excel Math, students learn to count currency, calculate change due after a purchase, create their own word problems using coins and bills, add and subtract various denominations of money, and lots more mathrelated concepts. Elementary math students learn skills they can apply to their own lives now and in the future.
Let's look at some of the information found on dollar bills. Did you know your money can tell you where it was printed?
If you look closely at your one (or two) dollar bill, you will see a letter code in the Federal Reserve Seal to the left of the portrait of George Washington (Thomas Jefferson on the two dollar bill). The letter code is also found in the prefix of the serial number:
On bills of higher denominations, the bank can be identified by a letter followed by a number just to the left of the Federal Reserve seal. Can you find it on this five dollar bill? (The answer is shown below.)
These are the bank codes and the cities where they are located:
Reserve Bank  Letter  Designation 
Boston  A  1 
New York  B  2 
Philadelphia  C  3 
Cleveland  D  4 
Richmond  E  5 
Atlanta  F  6 
Chicago  G  7 
St. Louis  H  8 
Minneapolis  I  9 
Kansas City  J  10 
Dallas  K  11 
San Francisco  L  12 
So G7 on the five dollar bill pictured above tells us that it was printed in Chicago.
We've given you a free math worksheet you can hand out to your students to help them learn about the information on dollar bills. Click here for a larger view and to print a PDF for your class:
Manipulative Worksheet from Excel Math Fourth Grade Teacher Edition 
Let the students count their money. Ask them to set aside three dollars and then decide how much they have left. Have them return two dollars to the original pile and let you know how much it contains now. If you have time, give your students a chance to locate some of the other features on their one and two dollar bills. Here are some additional items of interest found on dollar bills:
The serial number of a bill appears twice—once on the lower left and again on the upper right of the one and two dollar bills. The numbers are in the upper left and lower right of bills of higher denominations (such as the five dollar bill shown above). The letter that precedes the numbers is the same number that identifies the Federal Reserve Bank. The last letter of the serial number identifies the number of times that the Bureau of Engraving and Printing used the sequence of serial numbers. For example, A= the first time, B = the second time, C = the third time, Z = the 26th time, etc. With one run for each letter of the alphabet (26) and 32 bills per run, there are a total of 832 bills per serial number.
For more fun facts about U.S. currency, visit www.onedollarbill.org. You can find additional lesson plans and classroom activities on money at the Federal Reserve website: www.FederalReserveEducation.org. There you can search for lessons by grade level (K12 plus college and adult) and topic.
To find out more about how Excel Math helps elementary students learn and remember the concepts taught (with its unique spiraling system), visit ExcelMath.com.
Research Supports Excel Math Spiraling Process November 30, 2016 16:05
According to Doug Rohrer of the University of South Florida,
In most mathematics textbooks, each lesson is followed by a set of practice problems comprised almost entirely of problems corresponding to that lesson. Thus, with this format, most or all of the problems relating to a given topic are massed into one practice set and not distributed across multiple practice sets.Excel Math takes a different approach. We know that students learn not chapter by chapter or even concept by concept, but learning takes place over time as concepts are integrated and reviewed across multiple lessons through spaced repetition.
No wonder Excel Math classrooms show amazing test results. One teacher from California wrote:
“I cannot express how impressed I am with your program. Our test results are outstanding and I am convinced without EXCEL we would be struggling to meet our goals. The spiraling piece that is built in…is what makes this so effective. If I ever move schools and my district does not provide this program, I would purchase it with my own money. Thank you for a wonderful program.”If the unique spiraling process weren't enough, test scores of students using Excel Math are going through the roof! As a teacher from Texas called to say:
“I just had to call you! We used your curriculum for the last two years and our scores were phenomenal. Would you believe, this year both 4th and 5th grade got 100%! The parents love it because it’s consistent. It’s just an awesome program and very teacherfriendly. 7 out of 15 students were commended in my class in TAKS! So, hip…hip… hooray!
Read more from Doug Rohrer and others at http://www.psychologicalscience.org/observer/getArticle.cfm?id=1953In contrast to the massedblocked format, a very small number of textbooks use a distributedmixed format. With this arrangement, a small proportion of the problems within each practice set relate to the immediately preceding lesson, and these practice problems are mixed with the other practice problems.
This distributedmixed format is exactly what Excel Math uses. Not only does Excel Math repeat math concepts introduced earlier, the concepts are reintroduced and reviewed at regular intervals and then tested after the student has had a chance to learn them over a period of several weeks:
Excel Math's unique Spiraling Process showing spaced repetition 
In a separate report, Dr. Will Thalheimer gives an overview of research findings on the spacing effect and related learning factors based on more than 100 articles published in journals in the fields of memory, learning, and instruction.
Dr. Thalheimer’s review of this research shows that spacing learning over time produces substantial learning benefits. In his review, Dr. Thalheimer found that spaced repetitions are generally more effective than nonspaced repetitions. Excel Math incorporates the benefits of spaced repetition in its unique spiraling process. Read more on spaced learning and vocabulary at http://www.phase6.com/whatisphase6/scientificbackground/spacinglearning.html.
Dr. Thalheimer found that spacing is particularly beneficial if longterm retention is the goal. And of course, longterm retention is the goal in elementary math classes. He discovered that spacing helps minimize forgetting. Real learning doesn’t usually occur in onetime events. Read more on his blog at http://www.willatworklearning.com.
Take a closer look at how Excel Math incorporates a distributedmixed format with spaced repetition in its spiraling process. Coins are introduced in Lesson 43 of Second Grade Math:
Excel Math Lesson 43 Student Worksheet 
Excel Math Lesson 45 Student Worksheet 
“We like Excel because the concepts spiral and increase in difficulty throughout the year. New concepts are introduced every few days in First Grade, instead of daily. We also use _____ program and, while the children like the colorful pictures, it is a very difficult program to use in the classroom, because there is no chance for practice and each page is a new concept taught in isolation."With the Excel Math Projectable Lessons, students get even more practice reviewing math concepts on the white board or interactive board. Lessons are included on a CD so they can be projected on the board. There is plenty of space for the student (or teacher) to solve the problem while the rest of the class watches. The next slide shows the problem with the answers in red so the students can check their answers. Read more about Projectable Lessons.
Need a sample packet to decide if Excel Math is right for you and your students? Download one here or leave us a comment with your email address (or your physical address) and we'll send it to you. We won't post your comment so you can contact us without making your contact information public. Try out our unique spiraling system and see how it works with your students!
NOTE: The researchers quoted in this post have not reviewed nor endorsed Excel Math. The teachers who have used Excel Math with their students have endorsed it wholeheartedly!
Happy Birthday, Martin Gardner, Puzzlemaster & Mathematician! October 21, 2016 15:41
Martin Gardner was born on October 21, 1914 and died in May 2010 at the age of 95. Mr. Gardner was a fan of mathematics, puzzles, magic tricks, gag gifts, and feral cats. In his honor, October 21 (his birthday) is set aside as Celebration of Mind Day. Since it falls on a Friday this year, you may want to continue the celebration next week as well.
As you might expect, this special day encourages a fun and playful approach to math. Students can mark the day by doing fun math puzzles, trying brainteasers, performing illusions, and sharing math stories. Read our previous post about Martin Gardner for additional Celebration of Mind ideas for the classroom.
Martin Gardner was fascinated by mathematics, magic and Alice in Wonderland. He was a prolific American writer who enjoyed creating mathematics and logic puzzles and writing about them.
You can find some of those puzzles in Gardner's Mathematical Games columns from the 1978 and 1979 issues of Scientific American Magazine (the 14th in his series of such collections).
Your students may want to try some of Martin Gardner's brainteasers and play some puzzle games online or download them at Puzzles.com.
One of Mr. Gardner's most famous puzzlers was the onion (sometimes changed to a cherry) in the glass. This was originally demonstrated using matchsticks. If so, you could change the puzzle from an onion or cherry in a glass to a ball in a cup. The object then would be to try to toss the ball out of the cup by rearranging two toothpicks.
Read more about this puzzle on our previous post.
The Excel Math Teacher Editions for Grades 26 include a variety of math brainteasers and logic puzzles called Stretches. Stretches teach students various kinds of thinking skills and, like the rest of Excel Math, carefully spiral through math concepts. Here's a Stretch from the third grade Teacher Edition in the style of Martin Gardner:
Draw the figure below on the board or have your students use 13 toothpicks to create it. Ask the students if they can remove 1 toothpick (or one line) so it forms 3 squares instead of 4. The answer appears below.
Stretches can be used as math warmups or bell work to get the students focused on solving problems before they begin the daily lesson.
Here's the answer to the Excel Math puzzle from above. Simply remove the top center toothpick (or line):
Because Excel Math uses a unique spiraling strategy, the lessons build upon each other and need to be taught sequentially within each grade level (including Guided Practice, stretches, and interactive activities) in order to get the concepts into your students' longterm memory. Try out some sample lessons but then use it for a full year in your classroom to see the amazing results.
Since an entire year of Excel Math curriculum is as low as $12 per student, many schools use it as their core curriculum. Other schools find it's a powerful supplement to their adopted curriculum. In both situations, students gain confidence in mathematics as test scores soar.
Visit our web store to order Student Lesson Sheets (155 lesson sheets plus tests) and a Teacher Edition of 155 Lessons with brainteasers, teaching suggestions, the answer key, handson activities, and reproducible manipulatives for each grade level. Excel Math is available for Kindergarten through Grade 6.
Are you a math puzzle fan? What is one of your favorite brainteasers? Let us know by leaving a comment in the box below.
TopNotch Teachers Help Students Succeed September 08, 2016 13:24
But often these teachers are not treated as professionals and are not invited into the conversation about improving student performance. Instead, their hands are frequently tied as they try to meet everchanging standards while helping to build successful students and upstanding contributors to society.
This study found that effective teachers can boost the test scores of students who had struggled under lowperforming instructors. And the national debate over teacher performance continues.
Some teachers do just fine when teaching highachieving students or students who have the support of their parents. But some of those same teachers may not have the ability to manage a classroom of underachieving students who don't care for school, don't trust teachers, and don't have support at home. That doesn't mean these are not good teachers. It simply means they have an extremely challenging clientele, and other teachers may be better equipped to help these students succeed.
The threeyear study by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, is the first largescale research to show, using random student assignment, that some teachers can produce testscore gains regardless of the past performance of their students, according to foundation officials.
Tom Kane, a professor at Harvard's Graduate School of Education and leader of the research project, said the data provide the best evidence yet that some teachers can "cause student achievement to happen, and this is a really big deal." Read more at wsj.com.
At the same time, increasing a student's love for math and learning in general seems like it should be a higher priority than increasing that student's test scores.
Fortunately, Excel Math lessons do both. Students build confidence in math as they have success completing the lessons. Test scores rise, in part because the systematic spiraling process keeps concepts in front of students all year long so they can retain those concepts over the long term.
For over 40 years, Excel Math has been helping students succeed and even thrive in mathematics. Download our Strategies for Success to get started using Excel Math with your students.
Let us know how you get your students interested in learning math. Do you have tips for engaging underachieving students? Leave a comment or question by pulling down the Contact Us menu above.
How Handwriting Boosts the Math Brain April 25, 2016 15:15
According to a Wall Street Journal article by Gloria Bounds, "Using advanced tools such as magnetic resonance imaging, researchers are finding that writing by hand is more than just a way to communicate. The practice helps with learning letters and shapes, can improve idea composition and expression, and may aid fine motorskill development." Perhaps that's one reason why Excel Math is used successfully for remediation as well as for advanced students. Actually writing the answers by hand, along with our unique spiraling system is helping students remember the math and recall it over the long term.
"Other research highlights the hand's unique relationship with the brain when it comes to composing thoughts and ideas," the article continues. "Virginia Berninger, a professor of educational psychology at the University of Washington, says handwriting differs from typing because it requires executing sequential strokes to form a letter." Read more from the article: How Handwriting Boosts the Brain
Excel Math lets students begin drawing (writing) numerals in Kindergarten and First Grade. We believe that physically creating the shapes (playing with counting blocks, using counters and manipulatives, etc.) is critical in developing a deep understanding of mathematics. There is a handeyebrain coordination/connection that is reinforced by actual physical activity of creating the numerals in an answer (as opposed to clicking on the correct answer on the screen).
Here's a third grader's Excel Math Lesson Sheet. The Guided Practice portion appears on the back. Read about Excel Math's unique spiraling system here.
Math Madness Bulletin Board February 22, 2016 09:17
To engage your sports fans, have a March Madness Math competition during basketball season.
Start with a basic bulletin board so you can easily change it to reflect the changing seasons and holidays. If you're short on time, keep the border and background paper the same from month to month or season to season.
You may want to place one of the the bulletin board displays on your classroom door so it will catch the students' interest as they enter.
If you don't actually have a bulletin board in your classroom, use part of a wall or the back of a filing cabinet.
You can even hang math problems and math vocabulary words from your ceiling.
For March Madness, create a bulletin board with math problems printed on basketballs (pictured at the top of this post).
Encourage students to learn their math facts and then beat their own score to achieve a "personal best" (getting 8 out of 10 or better in a basic math facts worksheet) or to beat their best time, completing a set of math facts as quickly and accurately as possible.
Award basketballs (cut from the sheet below) to those students who improve each week. Click here to download the Basketball Cards PDF file.
Let the students create their own math facts using the blank basketballs, and add new problems to the bulletin board as you (or they) have time.
You can even use some of the blank basketballs to highlight a "math student of the week."
Let the most improved or high achieving student print his name on a basketball and post it on the bulletin board near the basket.
Use netting from an orange or potato sack or an old soccer or tennis net to give your bulletin board a 3D effect.
Bring in a selfstanding basketball hoop and let your students solve a math problem and then attempt a basket using a soft foam ball.
Create a freethrow line for a 3point toss.
Your students can print two or threedigit numbers on the smaller balls, turn them face down, and then turn over two at a time to add or multiply together.
Let your students play in pairs and see who can be the first to get the correct answer (or have each student write the problem and answer on a blank piece of paper and then compare answers after they've done several problems.
Feel free to share your bulletin board ideas with us. Just add a comment below with your suggestion.
If we use it in a future post, we'll credit you and include a link to your website or blog.
For additional bulletin board ideas, read our previous posts, "It's Snowing Math Facts" and "Seasonal Bulletin Boards for the Math Classroom." You may also like these articles:
Teacher of the Year: What's Her Secret?
Snowflake Bulletin Boards for the Math Class
Common Core Math Success Stories—Teaching in Ways Students Learn
Professional Development Energizes & Engages Math Teachers
Disney Math — Celebrating 60 Years
Creating Electronic Math Flashcards February 08, 2016 10:26
We've searched teacher sites and recommendations to find websites and free or lowcost resources that let your students create electronic and printable flashcards.
You can show your students how to make their own electronic flashcards using Powerpoint, Google Slides or Keynote on their computers and then bring the flashcards up on their desktop for review each day.
If you have computers in your room, let your students create slides in Powerpoint, Google or Keynote so the first slide has the problem and the next one shows the solution. Continue until they have covered the facts you'd like your students to practice. Then have them use the slides as electronic flashcards.
Divide the students into pairs, with each pair on a computer. Have them scroll through the slides. Let one student in each pair read the problem when it appears. Have the other student try to solve the problem before showing the next slide.
Show the slide. If the students got it wrong, they go back to the first slide, and each student reads the problem with the answer five times before they move on to the next slide.
Let the students take turns asking and solving the problems until they have the slides memorized. (This electronic flashcard technique works well for learning math terms and vocabulary, too.)
A comprehensive website for creating flashcards for all subjects is www.quizlet.com. Make your own math flashcards or use the existing ones already on the site. Then you can add a link for your students to visit your own teacher page. Once on your page, your students can create their own math flashcards or practice with those cards you've already placed on your page for them.
Lakeshore Learning has a flashcard template you can use to print paper flashcards for your students to use for additional practice. You or your students type in the problems in the lefthand column and the answers in the righthand column, print the cards, cut them out, and fold them on the broken lines to make flashcards. (See the sample on the left.)
Math Aids has a variety of flashcard templates you can customize (4 cards per page, 2 per page, addition to number 10, etc.) for your students. You can also choose from telling time, identifying U.S. coins or bills, roman numerals, shapes, and recognizing numbers, as well as problems involving addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division. These flashcards are especially recommended for Kindergarten through third grade students.
Math Fact Cafe has electronic flashcards and math fact sheets by grade level for Grades 14. These flashcards cover addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division. You can choose to add or subtract zero, ones, twos, nines, or a mix of numbers. You can choose to show confirmation of the answer being right or wrong. In this mode, after each answer is typed in, the student gets feedback such as "good," "excellent," or "bummer." After completing 20 problems, the flashcards are all shown and the ones missed are highlighted in red. The student can see the correct answers by scrolling over the red flashcards. The total correct and the percentage correct are shown.
Scholastic has an electronic flashcard maker that lets your students type in problems and calculate answers to make flashcards. When they're done, students can test themselves using the flashcards they've created. They can also print the cards or edit the cards, if they find any mistakes.
Flashcardlet is a free flashcard application with math problems (and other subject areas). If you're using an iPhone/iPod, you can also create your own. Flashcardlet gives students an easy way to study on the iPhone, iPod, and iPad. Flashcardlet also allows you to search for and study Quizlet.com flashcards. Your students can flip through their cards and set them to move as fast or slow as they would like. Students can bookmark cards that they have trouble with. They can also limit their studying to only cards that you have starred. Students can study their cards in their original order or at random.
My Math Flashcards App is a free app for mastering basic elementary math facts. It's easy to use and customizable for elementary students. It includes flashcards for addition, subtraction, multiplication and division. The screen looks like a calculator with a flashcard above it. Students complete 25 problems, entering their answer after each one. My Math Flashcards App is compatible with iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad.
Tim Bedley, math teacher from Lake Elsinore, California, has created Video Flash Kards for his students and now offers them as an inexpensive tool for other teachers. These 8 short videos cover addition, subtraction, multiplication and division. You can choose the fast (students have 2 seconds to respond) or slow version (4 seconds). Students respond to the math fact on the screen by shouting out their answers or simply saying them aloud.
If you have student responders or a clicker system in your classroom, you can have the students answer with their clickers. After the allotted time is up (2 or 4 seconds), the correct answer appears on the video with a "ding." These sevenminute videos can be played on a computer using iTunes or on an iPod. Students gain mastery in just a few views. Each video is $2.00 and comes with a moneyback guarantee. Watch a sample video here.
Do you have a favorite way to help your students learn basic math facts? Tell us what's working with your students. Feel free to leave a comment including your favorite website links.
Valentine Cookie Math January 25, 2016 12:57
Here are some fun cookies in heart shapes that your students can decorate while doing some recipe math.
For the hearts, you can use any sugar cookie recipe you have on hand.Make the cookies into heart shapes of various sizes and bake.
You can also download a sugar cookie recipe here. Let your students figure out how many of each ingredient they would need if they doubled (or tripled) the recipe. How many cookies would that make?
If you have a kitchen and enough supervision, let your students help measure the ingredients, mix them, roll out the dough, and cut and bake the cookies.
Let the cookies cool, then pipe frosting around the edges of each cookie or frost each cookie with red, white or pink frosting. Add sprinkles before the frosting dries, if you wish. Or pipe a contrasting frosting color on top to make stripes, checks or diamonds.
You can also use slice and bake refrigerator cookies or cut cookies into circles. Then decorate the round cookies with hearts or red, pink, white or purple frosting.
Give each of your students a cookie after they have cooled, and let the students decorate the cookies with frosting. Then they can add colorful toppings, cinnamon candies, small gumdrops and other colorful decorations.
Place a heart candy in the center of each frosted cookie, if you wish.
While your students decorate the cookies, give them the following word problem to solve:
They could solve for gumdrops first, since that's the smallest number and then multiply that number by 2 for chocolate chips and by 3 for cinnamon candies. Or, once they have the number of chocolate chips and gumdrops needed, they could simply add those two numbers together to find the total number of cinnamon candies needed.Have volunteers show their solutions on the board. Talk about various ways to solve the problems.
Provide plastic snack bags or paper plates if your students will give their cookies to friends or neighbors.
Or provide napkins and water if they will eat the cookies in class. (Make sure no one is allergic to the ingredients.)After the students calculate the cost to make the recipe, ask them to find the unit cost.
If you have the time and equipment available, let your students make a variety of cookies to share with a local senior center, soup kitchen or homeless shelter.
Bring in one of your favorite holiday recipes (or use this sugar cookie recipe) and have your students double or triple it. Then have them create a shopping list and price each ingredient.
For example, if the ingredients for 4 dozen cookies cost $9.50, what would be the cost per cookie? (40¢)
Excel Math is designed to combine math worksheets with handson activities and active learning. Our unique spiraling process helps students retain the math concepts for the long term.
You may also like these articles:
Snowflake Bulletin Boards for the Math Class
Common Core Math Success Stories—Teaching in Ways Students Learn
Professional Development Energizes & Engages Math Teachers
Disney Math — Celebrating 60 Years
5 Steps to Building Student Success with Math January 08, 2016 12:01
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 Excel Math 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. Instructions for using the tests are included. Save the test to your computer and print it for each student. Download the test (in English or Spanish) from our web store: http://excelmath.myshopify.com/collections/freeplacementtests
2. Give Feedback
After students turn in an assignment for most classes, they usually have to wait a day or two to find out whether they were on track and did the work correctly. In that brief amount of time, they can easily forget why they made the mistakes they did. And since they haven't yet discovered where or why those mistakes occurred,
they keep making 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 correct their mistakes switch gears and start tackling math problems correctly. Dr. Janice Raymond, the author of Excel Math lessons, created 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.
5. Download our FREE Guide to Success
If you begin using Excel Math mid year, be sure to download our: Strategies for MidYear Success.
This stepbystep guide will help you get off to a running start with Excel Math. Try these easytofollow strategies from experienced educators that are designed to help you build student success in mathematics.
 The first 46 weeks of any Excel Math grade level review the previous year’s concepts.
 Excel Math uses a finelytuned spiraling system. Concepts are introduced and reinforced throughout the year. Mastery occurs via Guided Practice, not at the initial presentation of a concept. For this reason, we suggest you teach the lessons in the order they occur in the Excel Math program, without skipping lessons.
 Correlations to CCSS, TEKS and many additional state standards are available on our website: http://excelmath.com/downloads/state_stds.html
 If you have questions, we are just a phone call away. Call us at 18668667513 Monday  Friday between 8:00 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. (West Coast time) and a friendly person will be glad to start you on the road to success with Excel Math!
Warm holiday beverages from Excel Math December 16, 2015 08:33
When you're ready to come in from the cold and need a hot beverage to take off the chill, try these recipes.
Add a candy cane if you like the peppermint flavor or a cinnamon stick if you prefer a traditional spiced taste.
Mulled Cider
Combine 1 quart of apple juice or cider, 1 teaspoon cinnamon, dash of cloves, a dash of nutmeg and a couple of cinnamon sticks in a pot and let simmer.
Cut an orange into even slices about a 1/4 inch thick. Stick 4 cloves into each slice. Place the orange slices in the pot of liquid. Bring the cider to a boil. Lower heat and simmer for 2030 minutes. Keep warm in a crock pot.
Flavored Coffee
Make a pot of coffee. Add almond, vanilla or peppermint flavoring to taste. Top with whipping cream and sprinkle with cinnamon or crushed peppermint candies.
Drizzle with chocolate sauce, if you wish. Add a peppermint stick or cinnamon stick.
Citrus Tea
Make a large pot of tea (about 8 cups). Add 3/4 cup orange juice, juice from one lime, juice from half a lemon and 4 tablespoons sugar (or to taste). Bring to a boil. Add a sprig of mint and serve hot or cold.
Hot Cocoa
Heat 1 cup of milk per person.
Add 1 tablespoon cocoa and 1 Tablespoon sugar for each.
Mix well, stirring until blended. Top with whipping cream or mini marshmallows.
Add a peppermint stick.
Enjoy the season!
www.excelmath.com/myshopify
Holiday Cookie Math October 26, 2015 14:46
Now that we're moving into November, it's time to bring out the holiday recipes and work a little math magic.
Here are some fun cookies in various holiday shapes that your students can decorate while doing some holiday math.
For the Santas, you can use any sugar cookie recipe you have on hand. Make the cookies into round shapes and bake.
(Slice and bake refrigerator cookies work well, too.) You can also download a sugar cookie recipe here.
Let the cookies cool, then frost half of each cookie with red frosting and the other half with white. Add coconut to cover the white frosting, if you wish.
Use chocolate chips for eyes, placed just at the top of the white frosting. Add a red cinnamon candy for a small mouth in the middle of the coconut. A mini marshmallow becomes the pompom on Santa's hat.
You can also decorate the round cookies as harvest pumpkins or holiday ornaments.
Square and diamond shapes can become dreidels for Hannukah (this year Hannukah begins on December 6) or Kwanzaa flags or gifts.
Give each of your students a cookie and let the students decorate the cookies with frosting. Then they can add chocolate chips, mini marshmallows, cinnamon candies, small gumdrops and other colorful decorations.While your students decorate the cookies, give them the following word problem to solve:
Have volunteers show their solutions on the board. Talk about various ways to solve the problems.
They could solve for cinnamon candies first, since that's the smallest number and then multiply that number by 2 for chocolate chips and by 3 for gumdrops. Or, once they have the number of chocolate chips and cinnamon candies needed, they could simply add those two numbers together to find the total number of gumdrops needed.
Provide plastic snack bags if your students will take their cookies home.
Or provide napkins and water if they will eat the cookies in class. (Make sure no one is allergic to the ingredients.)After the students calculate the cost to make the recipe, ask them to find the unit cost.
If you have the time and equipment available, let your students make a variety of cookies or pies to share with a local senior center, soup kitchen or homeless shelter.
Bring in one of your favorite holiday recipes (or use this sugar cookie recipe) and have your students double or triple it. Then have them create a shopping list and price each ingredient.
For example, if the ingredients for 4 dozen cookies cost $9.50, what would be the cost per cookie? (40¢)
Excel Math is designed to combine math worksheets with handson activities and active learning. Our unique spiraling process helps students retain the math concepts for the long term.
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Turkey Talk: Basic Math Facts Bulletin Board
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Common Core Math Success Stories—Teaching in Ways Students Learn
Professional Development Energizes & Engages Math Teachers
Disney Math — Celebrating 60 Years
Common Core Success Stories with Excel Math September 10, 2015 14:39
With all the commotion about Common Core Test Scores and 70% of students not making the grade in math, we thought some good news was in order.
Excel Math has a proven approach to teaching students math in the ways they learn best.
Many students using Excel Math actually score better than others on Common Core tests.
For 40 years, Excel Math has produced excellent results, including improved test scores and high student engagement with math—all while giving students a solid foundation of math skills.
Download a set of sample lessons in the grade level of your choice.
See how Excel Math correlates to Common Core Standards and prepares students for critical thinking and realworld math problem solving.
Take a look at a few success stories and test results from educators and parents who have been impressed with the results after using Excel Math.
"My children had been using Excel Math Standard Edition at home for the last two years to supplement the math curriculum they have at school (which isn't very effective). This year they took the Common Core Math pretest for the first time.
We had been warned that our children would probably not score very well on these tests. However, my fourth grader scored 83% and my third grader (who is not a math genius) scored 98%! When people asked me if he was a math whiz, I had to tell them, "Not at all. It was the Excel Math Lesson Sheets!" — Wendy Ulrich, Mom in San Diego, CA
Even on the Common Core PreTest, Excel Math students often scored higher than other students!
The CheckAnswer, a natural feedback loop in Grades 26 of Excel Math homework and Guided Practice, gives students a chance to learn from their mistakes and correct their errors:
"My daughter struggled with grasping math concepts until she started with Excel Math in her new school. It just 'clicked' with her and she now maintains a 99% average overall in math! Before using Excel Math, she wouldn't have cared whether she had her homework done or not. Now she completes her math homework first because the instant feedback of the 'CheckAnswers' allows her to locate and fix any mistakes on her own. She no longer has to wait for the teacher to grade her work to
find out if she 'gets it'. Excel Math offers her a level of control that is often missing in other math curricula." —Mom in Bellevue, Pennsylvania
"I believe in your Excel Math system, and promote it within LAUSD. I presented it as the centerpiece for a large conference for gifted parents last year. My daughters continue to use it as well. They recently scored 96% nationally in Mathematics for 1st and 3rd grades." — Teacher and Common Core Coach in Los Angeles Unified School District, California
Around the country, schools are discovering that students can succeed in math (and test scores rise) when they use Excel Math.
One excited educator wrote to tell us:
Since we started using Excel Math at Whispering Palms School, our students have increased their math scores dramatically. On the testing in May we scored on average over two grades above grade level!
Excel Math teaches students in the way they learn best.
And the unique spiraling process in Excel Math gives students a way to get concepts into longterm memory so they are well prepared for realworld math and higherlevel thinking skills.
We also have Texas (TEKS aligned) and Standard Teacher Editions available.
If you would like to get our occasional tips and extras for math educators, simply fill in the comment box below with the grade level(s) you teach and the word "join" in the comments section. You will receive an email from us every month or two letting you know about our new printables, tips for teachers, and special offers.
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Professional Development Energizes & Engages Math TeachersPreK Math Activities for Young Students July 27, 2015 05:00
Here are a few math and movement activities for your preK math students. Keep in mind that transitions can be difficult for these little ones. So before moving on to a new activity, capture your students' attention with an action rhyme, song or movement game to help them get ready for the next activity.Prepare your lesson carefully so there is no "down time" while your students are waiting for you to get ready. Have all supplies ready to go and close at hand, make a list or use index cards to remind you of what comes next. If possible, have an assistant or volunteer on hand to get the next activity ready while you finish up the current one.
Keep the activities fun and light. Be flexible. If your students appear to be getting bored, move on to the next activity before they lose interest completely. If you need to get their attention back, begin a clapping rhyme for them to imitate or sing a song or play "Follow the Leader" while marching in place and doing upper body movements.
Let each child take a block from your shelf or container and stack them as high as possible. Count the blocks as each child adds one to the pile. If some children place their blocks next to the pile, that's fine, too. Then ask, "How many blocks did we stack?" Point out that the last number counted is also the number placed in (or near) the pile.
When the pile is complete, have each child take a block off and hold it, counting as each block is removed. Then ask, "How many blocks did we count?" Also ask, "How many blocks are we holding?" Point out that the last number counted is also the number of blocks the children are holding.
Finally, let each child toss his block into a tub or container, counting as the blocks are tossed. Ask, "How many blocks did we toss into the tub?" Once more, point out that the last number counted is the number of blocks the children tossed.
Now let the children play a simple game of hopscotch. Draw a colored shape in each space (or tape a laminated shape to the floor in each square after using masking tape to outline the hopscotch area). Have a child jump or walk to the square with the shape you describe (yellow triangle, red square or simply "square"). Have the next child stand in a different space, naming the shape and/or color.
Continue until all the squares are filled. Now ask the next child to stand in "Jason's" space. Have Jason move to stand by you and say the name of the shape or color on which he was standing. Let the other children help him if he doesn't know it's name.
Give each child a turn to play. Some children may not want to say the shape name, which is fine. Others may be impatient for a turn. If that's the case, explain that "Sara is waiting patiently for her turn. After Sara's turn it will be Timmy's turn. Thank you for waiting patiently for you turn." Continue this dialog after each person's turn so the children can hear their names as they wait.
When you're done, sing the song, "The More We Get Together" as the children stand in a circle and clap or stomp. Point to yourself on "my" and to others on "your." Point to your smiling mouth on "happier." (See the words below.)
Sing the song once more as you march around the room. (Young children may not be able to march and sing a new song at the same time, which is fine.)
For fun Kindergarten math activities and lessons, take a look at Excel Math for Kindergarten. These lessons and Teacher Editions are now available in three versions:
 Common Core Edition
 Texas Edition (TEKS aligned)
 Standard Edition (Non Common Core)
Here are the words to "The More We Get Together." If you don't know the tune, simply make up your own!
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Common Core Content in Excel Math July 22, 2015 07:03
Many states are still struggling to transition to the more rigorous education standards under Common Core. In Wyoming, a state survey shows that many schools are still searching for curriculum and trying to find lessons that work for their students.
Some teachers are compiling their own lessons from online worksheets, but are finding it difficult to give students a consistent, progressive approach to learning new concepts with this approach.
The Wyoming state education department surveyed all 48 school districts this year after students took the state's annual PAWS test.
Response to the survey was not great, but it did show that only a "moderate" amount of support is provided for teachers to adapt to the Common Core Standards. Read more in the Casper Star Tribune . . .
Some 25 percent of curriculum instructors surveyed reported that "little" time has been provided to teachers to help them "develop strategies, activities, or methods" aligned with the new standards. And 32 percent listed "insufficient time for teachers to participate in training on the new standards" as one of the biggest barriers for success.
In contrast, Excel Math has shown strong results when used in either a core or supplement position. The new Common Core Teacher Editions for Grades K  6 help guide teachers and students through the transition to Common Core standards with a unique spiraling approach that fosters longterm mastery and retention of math concepts. Here's what one mom called to tell us:
— Wendy Ulrich, grateful mom
Take a look at Common Core samples: http://excelmath.com/downloads/state_stds.html
Excel Math includes a proven spiraling strategy for longterm retention and mastery.
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Disney Math July 17, 2015 09:07
Disneyland Entrance 
Legend has it that Walt Disney had his workers mark the trees that were to be cut down with a certain color of colored ribbons. Those trees that were to be spared were tied with a different ribbon color. Somehow, the instructions did not translate properly (or the person coordinating the cutting was color blind) and most of the trees Walt Disney wanted spared were the ones that got cut down!
Today Disneyland hosts more than 14 million visitors a year, who spend close to $3 billion. Read more at ThisDayInHistory.com.
Cinderella's Castle at Disneyland 
Many former Excel Math students mention that they first began to develop a love for math in their elementary school years.
With Excel Math, students learn practical ways to apply mathematical concepts to their everyday lives.
If you're looking for ways to save on your next Disney vacation, Read More . . .
Down for the Count: Math Games
New to Excel Math? Preview elementary math lessons that really work for Kindergarten through Sixth Grade on our website: www.excelmath.com.
You can find math resources for teachers, parents and students and take a walk through the curriculum at excelmath.com/tour/tour01.html.
Visit Excel Math at CAMT in Houston June 22, 2015 05:00
This year the CAMT Convention will be held June 2426 in Houston, Texas and Bob and Brad will be there. The Conference for the Advancement of Mathematics Teaching is focusing on the theme, "Gearing Up for Change."
Stop by booth # and see the changes we've made in the Excel Math lessons with our new Texas Teacher Editions for Kindergarten through Grade 6.
The exhibit hall for CAMT opens at 10:00 a.m. on Wednesday and Thursday in the George Brown Convention Center. Exhibits open at 9:00 a.m. on Friday so you can get an earlier start. Say hi to Bob and Brad and take a look at our new Texas Teacher Editions for Kindergarten through Grade 6.
For a more indepth look and practical suggestions for teaching to the TEKS, be sure to attend Bob's presentation (offered twice to fit your schedule):
Strategies to Meet the New TEKS Requirements: 7 Proven Methods
Wednesday June 24 at 10am  Room 381BC
Thursday June 25 at 2:30pm  Room 381BC
During this session, attendees will learn tips to engage and reach all students, and emphasize Critical Thinking instead of fillintheblank answers for teaching to the the new TEKS.
If you won't be in Houston or you want to see our Excel Math books before you get there, you can take a look at our new Texas Editions from the comfort of your home or office by visiting our website: http://excelmath.com/downloads/state_stdsTX.html
Scroll down the page to see how Excel Math lessons correlate with the new TEKS. Click on the round buttons on that same web page to download the correlations for the grade levels of your choice.
Feel free to leave a comment in the box below if you'd like to schedule a time to talk with Bob or Brad during the conference or if you'd like one of us to give you a call.
We're looking forward to seeing you in Houston!
Big Ben's Birthday and Telling Time May 28, 2015 05:00
On May 31, 1859 Big Ben went into operation in London. Located at the top of the 320foothigh St. Stephen's Tower, this clock tower rang out over the Houses of Parliament in Westminster, London, for the first time on this day in 1859.
After a fire destroyed much of the Palace of Westminsterthe headquarters of the British Parliamentin October 1834, a standout feature of the design for the new palace was a large clock atop a tower. The royal astronomer, Sir George Airy, wanted the clock to have pinpoint accuracy, including twiceaday checks with the Royal Greenwich Observatory.
While many clockmakers dismissed this goal as impossible, Airy counted on the help of Edmund Beckett Denison, a formidable barrister known for his expertise in horology, or the science of measuring time. Read more at www.history.com.
With Excel Math lessons, students learn to tell time using a variety of digital and analog clocks.
Here's a large online clock developed by Mark Cogan to help students see the current time on an analog or digital clock and then click a button to see the time it will be in 1 hour, 1 minute, 5, 10, 15 or 30 minutes: http://www.oswego.org/ocsdweb/games/classclock/clockres.html
You could have each student make their own clock with movable hands, match the computer clock for the current time, then change their clock to show the time it will be in 1 hour and click the button on the computer clock to check their answers. Play with two students on one computer so they can see who can get the most correct answers (or who can do it fastest).
You can also have the students change the time on the clock and then set their own clock for 1 hour later, click the button on the computer clock to check their answers, and continue playing, alternating who gets to choose the new "start" time.
Here's an Inca clock (pictured at left).
For more clock games, check out the following:Count On Crazy Clock: www.counton.org/games/crazyclock/index.html
Quizlet clock flashcards: https://quizlet.com/17995001/clocktimesflashcards/
Clockworks: http://www.bbc.co.uk/bitesize/ks1/maths/telling_the_time/play/
Giggle Up Kids Interactive Telling Time Google App: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.giggleup.ITTAFree&hl=en
Math Play Telling Time Basketball Game: http://www.mathplay.com/tellingtimebasketballgame/tellingtimebasketballgame.html
Math Play Tic Tac Toe Game: http://www.mathplay.com/TicTacToeTimeGame.html
Math Play Time Matching Game: http://www.mathplay.com/timematching.html
Math Play Another Time Matching Game: http://www.mathplay.com/timematchinggame.html
Primary Games What Time Is It? www.primarygames.com/time/start.htm
Sheppard Software Clock Shoot: www.sheppardsoftware.com/mathgames/earlymath/clock_shoot.htm Sheppard Software on Time: www.sheppardsoftware.com/mathgames/earlymath/on_time_game1.htm
Math Playground Puzzle Pics Clocks: http://www.mathplayground.com/puzzle_pics_clocks.html
Stop the Clock Game: http://www.teachingtime.co.uk/draggames/sthec1.html
Here's an online clock that shows moving hands. You can convert the clock to show Roman Numerals and let it fill the screen: http://www.onlinestopwatch.com/onlineclocksmoothseconds/
Enjoy!
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Fun with Fractions May 18, 2015 05:00
Fun with Fractions
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 onefourth 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.
Download a free fraction practice worksheet for your students.
Read more . . .
Making Cents of the Coinage Act May 18, 2015 04:30
Nickel 
Quarter 
Dime 
Half Dollar
In Excel Math, students learn to add and subtract various monetary units. Today we're giving you a free math worksheet of coin images you can use with your own students. Click here to download the PDF file. Give a page of coins to each of your students. Have each student cut out the coins along the broken lines and stack them according to their value (all pennies in one stack, nickels in another, etc). Use the rectangle of coins at the bottom of the worksheet to talk about each coin, its distinguishing features, and how much it is worth:

Coins Worksheet from Excel Math Grade 4 Teacher Edition Click here for a larger version 
Let your students place the stacked coins on top of their matching pictures. Now have them find the one coin worth 25¢. Next have them find three coins whose sum equals 25¢ (two dimes and a nickel). Continue practicing any skills your students need to review (making change, adding and subtracting coins of various values, etc.).
Now point out additional features of the coins. Help your students identify the faces of presidents shown on the coins: Lincoln  penny, Jefferson  nickel, Roosevelt  dime, Washington  quarter, Kennedy  half dollar (shown above). Let the students find the date on each coin and guess what it means. (the year the coin was minted) Have your students take turns reading the words on each coin aloud. Explain that liberty means freedom. At the time the coins were first introduced, not all people in the United States were free. Some people still owned slaves, women did not have the same rights as men, etc. Point out that the words on a quarter are quarter dollar since 25¢ is a quarter (or onefourth) of one dollar. (We'll look at monetary equivalents and equivalent representations of fractions next week.) Some of your students may not be aware that there are also dollar and halfdollar coins. Show them a few of the images on those coins:
Ask your students if they can tell where the coins were made. You can tell where your coins were minted by looking at the small letter under the president's portrait on the coin. (If the coin was minted before 1968 the letter will be on the other side.) The D is for Denver, the S is for San Francisco, and the P is for Philadelphia. Mint marks date from the days of ancient Greece and Rome. The practice was begun in the United States by an Act of March 3, 1835, which established the first branch mints in this country.

Whose Head Is on That Coin? May 14, 2015 05:00
In Excel Math, we teach students how to add dollars and coins and make sense of monetary calculations. Pictured below is a Guided Practice page from the Excel Math Second Grade Teacher's Edition. See if you can solve these problems without looking at the answers. Section E uses coins of various values. Can you recognize them? (We've provided the answers so you can check your work.)
Excel Math Grade 2 Student Lesson Sheet 
In 1824, while on a tour of the United States accompanied by his son George Washington Lafayette, Congress awarded LaFayette land in Florida and $200,000 in cash. The next year, LaFayette returned to Virginia and presented the Masonic Lodge in Alexandria with a 10inch long key to the Bastille. In 1790, LaFayette sent George Washington a second key to the Bastille, which is on display at Mt. Vernon. Here is the reverse of the coin pictured above. It depicts a statue of LaFayette on horseback. The inscription reads, Erected by the Youth of the United States in Honor of Gen Lafayette Paris 1900:
The Mint Act of 1792, which created the United States Mint, specified that certain design features appear on legal tender coins, including the quarter. One side of the coin had to include the year in which it was minted, an image that symbolized liberty and the inscription LIBERTY. The reverse (tails) of the quarter featured an eagle and the inscription UNITED STATES OF AMERICA.
Arkansas Quarter from the 50 State Quarters® Program 
Kansas Quarter 
And the Washington dollar with George Washington's face on the obverse side:
Martha Washington Dollar 
Jefferson Nickel 
Jefferson Dollar 
Spring Bulletin Boards for the Math Class May 13, 2015 05:00
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. Teach your students the rainbow song to help them remember the order that colors appear in rainbows: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, purple (indigo). Sing these words to the tune of TEN LITTLE INDIANS or PAW PAW PATCH:
Red, orange, yellow, green, blue, purple;
Red, orange, yellow, green, blue, purple;
Red, orange, yellow, green, blue, purple;
I see a rainbow, bright, bright, bright!
To encourage your students to learn to tell time, prepare a "Time for Math" bulletin board. Download and print the flower clock patterns. Glue them onto paper plates or print them onto cardboard. Then add clock hands with a paper fastener. Cut 2 to 3inch long fringe in a 4inch tall strip of green paper that extends the length of your bulletin board. Use a pencil to curl the ends of the fringe so it looks like a field of grass. Staple or tape several strips of fringe for a 3D look. Add the flowers to the field.
Let the students "set" the clocks each day. Give each child a petal for each clock (match the colors). Let them print the correct time on a petal during your bell work time or at the end of the day.. Those petals that are correct can be added around the clock face to create 3D flowers. Have the student sign his name on the petal before he glues it to the clock flower.
For extra practice telling time, give each student his own clock pattern with hands. Provde a paper fastener to poke through the center of the clock face and the hands so the hands can move freely. For younger students, tape the back of the fastener so the children don't get scratched.
More than just worksheets, Excel Math lessons include handson visuals and manipulatives, stretches (brainteasers), cooperative learning activities, interactive opportunities (including Projectable Lessons) and three versions of the Excel Math Teacher Edition:
Texas Edition (TEKS aligned—STAAR ready)
Standard Edition (Non Common Core)
No matter which edition you choose, you receive easytoteach lessons (to use as a supplement or in a core position), Guided Practice, Basic Fact Practice, Homework, handson activities, and regular assessments. Walk through a lesson on our website: www.excelmath.com/tour/tour01.htmlBike to Work: Get Moving with Math May 12, 2015 04:00
Friday, May 15 is Bike to Work Day and across the country, workers are getting their bikes ready. Bike to Work Day is a nationally recognized event, celebrated each year on the third Friday in May.
Biking to work is a great way to save money and get fit at the same time! Some communities are setting up pit stops with snacks and free Tshirts for participants.
In San Diego you can visit this website for more information and to get pit stop updates: www.icommuntesd.com
This website also provides bike maps from around San Diego county and lets you log your trips and calculate your savings.
A 2014 Kaiser Permanente study urges less sitting and more moving. The study found that men who sit more than 5 hours outside of work develop heart failure at a rate 36% higher than those who keep moving. Even if you exercise every day, being a couch potato and sitting too much can increase your risk of heart failure.
Men who sit for more than 5 hours a day outside of work develop heart failure at a rate 36 percent higher than those who do not  See more at: http://partnersinhealth.kaiserpermanente.org/march2014/national/sitlessmovemorelearnwhynatmar2014#sthash.HckmIzl6.dpuf
Men who sit for more than 5 hours a day outside of work develop heart failure at a rate 36 percent higher than those who do not  See more at: http://partnersinhealth.kaiserpermanente.org/march2014/national/sitlessmovemorelearnwhynatmar2014#sthash.HckmIzl6.dpuf
Read more about the study's results at http://partnersinhealth.kaiserpermanente.org/march2014/national/sitlessmovemorelearnwhynatmar2014
We can encourage our students to get up and move, too. Since 1983, May has been observed as National Physical Fitness and Sports Month.Take a look at some ideas for movement, fitness and healthy eating at http://www.letsmove.gov/
Download a Teacher Toolkit here http://www.letsmove.gov
Another idea is to use fun and colorful trading cards with your students. These cards can help get the conversation started about safety when biking and walking: http://www.icommutesd.com/gallery/tradingcards
The 12 trading cards are doublesided and feature kooky characters that teach kids how to avoid traffic hazards and follow safety rules. Click the images to enlarge the cards. Then download and print them to share with your students.
You can also print safety brochures for parents with biking and walking safety tips to help parents teach their students how to get to school safely.
Here at Excel Math, we include lots of word problems about exercise and fitness in our math lessons. (We also walk or jog during our breaks and lunch hours to keep the creative juices flowing.)
Create A Problem exercises on the back of Excel Math tests let students express their own understanding of story problems, merging math with literacy. We start with simple stories and give students a chance to observe what is happening in the story. They then use those observations and the accompanying charts and graphs to solve problems. Take a look at sample lessons here: www.excelmath.com
New to Excel Math? Learn more on our website: www.excelmath.com
You may also enjoy these articles about fitness:
National Fitness Month: Get Moving with Math
Take a Hike, Part 1
Staying Fit Over the Summer Break
Spiraling Into Control May 11, 2015 05:00
When you hear the word spiral, what comes to mind?
Spiraling out of control?
Spiralbound books?
Spirographs and other toys from your childhood?
Perhaps you think of seashells such as this photo of a nautilus shell showing the chambers arranged in an approximately logarithmic spiral.
Or you may think of a spiral staircase winding its way up (or down) to the next floor.
Student Center Rendering Randolph College, Lynchburg, Virginia 
Does math curriculum come to the top of your list?
Excel Math introduces new concepts to students while reviewing previouslytaught concepts. It gives students the opportunity to master the old, 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. The spiraling strategy of repeating concepts at regular intervals throughout the curriculum is an integral part of Excel Math.
At Excel Math, our lessons help students actively participate and interact with the teacher, with Projectable lessons, with each other, and with manipulatives. We help students develop higherorder thinking skills as they use math curriculum designed to keep their minds engaged in the learning process.
This spiraling strategy is a sophisticated process of introducing new concepts, reinforcing the concepts regularly, and then assessing the concepts. It leads to mastery and longterm competency for each student. In other words, the spiraling strategy helps move new concepts into the child's longterm memory and keep them there.
Excel Math curriculum continually brings in new topics while refreshing math concepts the students have learned before. 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:
Most of the school year is devoted to the spiraled introduction and practice of math concepts. Each week, we introduce new concepts, practice the old ones, and prepare for assessment a week or two later. Students are not tested immediately after learning, so they have plenty of time to practice what they've learned—in class and at home.
Since all the lessons build upon one another, concepts are reinforced for several lessons after they are first introduced. Then those concepts continue to appear throughout the remainder of the school year. Excel Math helps those concepts lodge in a student's longterm memory by using this spiraling strategy.
And here's a practical example. Coins (quarters, dimes, nickels, and pennies) are introduced in this Grade 2 Student Sheet from Lesson 43 (the answers are given in the Teacher Edition as shown here):
Excel Math Grade 2 Lesson Sheet introducing coins (Lesson 43) 
These same concepts (recognizing coins) are reinforced throughout the week in additional lessons. Here's an example from the Guided Practice included in Lesson 46:
Excel Math Grade 2 Guided Practice to review coins (Lesson 45) 
These coins are included on the test two and half weeks later. Excel Math does not test students on concepts they've just learned in the week immediately before the test. We give students several additional days of review and reinforcement before testing. Students become more confident in their math skills as a result. After the test, those concepts are brought back into future lessons to keep them uppermost in the students' minds. So coins are reviewed again as part of the Homework for Lesson 106:
Excel Math Grade 2 Homework to review coins (Lesson 106) 
Here's what teachers have to say about the spiraling concept:
“I love Excel Math. The spiraling is what is so key to the program. Spiraling, coupled with the problemsolving lessons, especially for a 3rd Grade class, are wonderful. The children truly learn the material.” —Paula, 3rd Grade Teacher from Chandler, Texas
“We like Excel Math because the concepts spiral and increase in difficulty throughout the year. New concepts are introduced every few days in First Grade, instead of daily. We also use _____ program and, while the children like the colorful pictures, it is a very difficult program to use in the classroom, because there is no chance for practice and each page is a new concept taught in isolation. Overall, I’m very happy with Excel and the pacing of the lessons!” — Angie, 1st Grade Dual Immersion Teacher from Winters, CA
“I am a homeschooling mother of four. Excel Math is the type of program I’ve been looking for. I love the fact that there is a review of previously taught material throughout all the lessons. The workbook we’ve been using has no review and the concepts are taught too fast…. You are exactly what I was looking for and my son enjoys it.” — Homeschool mom from Vero Beach, Florida
Constant review and spaced repetition of the math concepts ensure students remember those concepts long after they are first introduced. Lessons build upon previous learning and often blend math and literacy, producing wellrounded and confident students. To learn more, visit the Excel Math website.
What's Your Angle? May 09, 2015 05:00
Bamburgh Castle 
In fishing, angle means "to fish with a hook," from the Old English angel (n.) "angle, hook, fishhook," related to anga "hook," and ang "to bend" The figurative sense of this word is first recorded from the 1580s.
In Excel Math, students learn about mathematical angles of all sizes. Here's a lesson sheet from Sixth Grade that explains the difference between adjacent, exterior, interior, and corresponding angles.
Excel Math Sixth Grade Lesson Sheet 
An angle is made up of two rays or line segments that intersect or have the same endpoint. There are many geometric definitions of an angle. Here are a few types of angles:
Acute Angle = an angle that measures less than 90º
Complementary Angles = two angles whose sum equals 90º
Obtuse Angle = an angle that measures more than 90º and less than 180º
Right Angle = a 90º angle (perpendicular lines form right angles where they cross)
Straight Angle = a 180º angle
Supplementary Angles = two angles whose sum equals 180º
Exterior Angle = an angle on the outside of two parallel lines that are intersected by another line (r and q are exterior angles on the diagram below)
Interior Angle = an angle on the inside of two parallel lines that are intersected by another line (m and n are interior angles on the diagram)
Teaching Students to Count Objects Up to 20 May 07, 2015 05:00
Count the objects again as a student points to them from left to right on the table. Choose a new volunteer to point to the objects from right to left as the class counts the objects once more.
Copy this number chart and bring 20 beans, paper clips bottle caps, or other counters for each student. For younger students, just copy the first two to four rows of the chart. Click here to download a PDF file of this chart:
With Excel Math, students develop a strong foundation in math beginning in Kindergarten. Used in classrooms for over 30 years, Excel Math curriculum carefully presents math in a spiraling fashion. Students learn and review different concepts throughout the year while developing a solid foundation of math skills. Using strategically placed spaced repetition, Excel Math gives educators a proven approach to teach math concepts to students from Kindergarten through sixth grade for longterm retention. Read more here.
To help your students visualize counting, duplicate the number line below on the board. Have a student point to each number as the class says it aloud. Then have the student circle the numbers as they are counted.
If you have time, enlarge the number line so it can span across the floor of your classroom or hallway (with the numbers spaced about 5 inches apart). Have a student step on the number 1. Next have the student step on number 2, then 3 and then 4. Do the same as the children count the numbers. Have the student step on each number as the class names it. Continue until you reach 20. Then let the students begin at 0, counting the numbers as another student steps on them.
Excel Math Base Ten Chart Click here to download the PDF file 
Now do the same with 20 objects. Draw the number 20 on the board.
Have children stand one at a time until you have 20 standing. Walk to each child and touch his shoulder as you count aloud to 20 with the students. Now have each child say a number in order from 120 and then sit down as you tap his shoulder. (If you have less than 20 students, have them stand as you count them and then sit as you continue counting them (after the final child is standing).
Point to the number 20 on the board. Draw twenty circles next to the number as the children count aloud. Have a child color in ten of the circles with the same color. Ask another student to count the circles as they are colored. Have another student point to the uncolored circles and count them (10) and then continue counting the colored circles to reach 20.
Ask two children to stand. Have a third child count each of their fingers (20) Then have the entire class count aloud from 1 to 20 as the child points to each finger again.
Lead the class in clapping 20 times as they count aloud, then stomping their feet, patting their knees, tapping their heads, clapping over their heads, doing 20 jumping jacks, etc. If you have time, choose a different child to lead the class in counting to 20 each time.
Excel Math Base Ten Pumpkin Cards Click here to download the PDF file 
Have the class count aloud slowly from 1 to 20 and place a bean or paper clip on each number as it is said. Slowly count backward from 20 to 1 as the children remove a bean or clip from the chart. Give different students a turn to lead the class in counting and placing or removing a bean or clip from the chart. Have them start counting at 2, 3, 4, 5, etc., if they need more practice. Finally, have the students count aloud in a whisper as they remove the final beans or clips from the chart and place them in a cup or envelope. Save them for another day.
Here are some online counting games you can use with your students:
http://www.primarygames.com/math/fishycount/
http://www.crickweb.co.uk/EarlyYears.html#ftank2
http://www.coolmathgames.com/1gamesforpreschoolkindergarten01.html
http://www.funbrain.com/kidscenter.html
http://www.bbc.co.uk/schools/numbertime/games/index.shtml
http://www.mathblaster.com
When your students are ready to begin counting by twos, read our previous blog post and download a frog counting game.
How do you help your students learn to count numbers? Leave a comment below.
New to Excel Math? Visit our website to learn more: www.excelmath.com.
Cinco de Mayo Mathematics May 04, 2015 12:58
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 MexicanAmerican population. So bring the flavor of Cinco de Mayo into your classroom this week. Tell your students about the Battle of Puebla and the FrancoMexican 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. From September 16, 1810  September 27, 1821 the battle was led by Mexicanborn Spaniards, Mestizos and Amerindians who wanted independence from Spain. That holiday is celebrated on September 16.
This week you can enjoy delicious Mexican food while you learn about our neighbors to the south. Then plan to share some of the interesting and rich Mexican heritage with your students during the week. Sing some traditional songs (visit 123TeachMe.com for Spanish lyrics and videos) and play a Mexican game. Try minitostadas or tacos, listen to a mariachi band, invite a person of Mexican descent to speak to your class, learn a few Spanish number words and practice counting in Spanish (uno, dos tres, cuatro, cinco, etc.), or tell a Mexican folktale. For more number words and their pronunciations, visit EnchantedLearning.com.
Click here to see our Excel Math Placement Test in Spanish 
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.) More than just worksheets, Excel Math lessons include handson visuals and manipulatives, stretches (brainteasers), cooperative learning activities, interactive opportunities (including Projectable Lessons) and lots more.
If you have some interesting ways you bring Mexican traditions into your math class, feel free to share them in the "comments" box below.
You might also like these articles:
Thank You, Teachers! May 03, 2015 21:40
Here's a heartfelt thankyou letter to teachers from a student, Lexi Herrick:
"This letter is for the teachers who touch lives with each passing day, and help to build the foundation for some of the world's most astounding and incredible adults. Teachers, I'm sure there are days that cause you to question if any of your work is making a difference to your seemingly unappreciative students. I want to assure you in this letter of your vast power of influence. I can remember things that teachers have said to me dating back to when I was six years old. I know I am not alone in that regard either. Every thing you say and do affects your students, and that makes your job one of the most important jobs in the world."
Read more from Lexi on the Huffington Post: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/lexiherrick/anhonestthankyouletter_b_6025466.html
A big shoutout to teachers everywhere. This week marks Teacher Appreciation week. Here are a few ways to help your students begin to express appreciation and thanks to those teachers who are impacting their lives.
Create a Colorful Card
Give each student a piece of colored paper to fold into halves or quarters and decorate with markers, stickers, sequins, buttons or whatever art materials you have on hand. Layer colored paper in graduated sizes with the words "Thank You" or "You're the Greatest!" on the top layer. Use mounting tape to attach the greeting to the card cover or inside, giving it a 3D effect.
Make a PopUp Sign
Provide an empty bathroom tissue roll or half a paper towel roll along with colored card stock, a drinking straw, markers and glue or tape for each student. Show the students how to cut the card stock into a small sign so it fits inside the cardboard roll. Write a greeting or affirmation ("Best Teacher" or "Top Teacher" on the sign and tape it to one end of the drinking straw. Cover the cardboard tube with colored paper. Then add notes of appreciation or decorate it with various art materials. Place the drinking straw in the cardboard tube so the words don't show. Then push the straw up or down to view the words.
Decorate a Certificate
Give each student a colorful piece of card stock or paper. Print a few sample certificates and then let the creative juices flow. Make sure the student signs the certificate so the teacher knows who it's from. Arrange a time to address envelopes and mail the certificates or let the students hold a presentation ceremony in your classroom.
Bring a Bouquet
Provide colorful tissue paper and chenille wires (pipe cleaners) for each student along with a paper cup and scissors. Punch a few holes in the bottom of the cup.
Cut the tissue paper sheets in half so they are more square than rectangular. Show the students how to fanfold the tissue paper and then tie one end of the chenille wire around the middle of the fan for a stem.
Help the students gently pull apart the ends of the tissue paper to form the flower. Have them wrap the flowers in one large sheet of tissue paper, creating a bouquet of 35 flowers.
Use markers to write a word of thanks on a small piece of paper. Tuck it into the bouquet.
Send a CandyGram
If you're feeling a bit more creative, let your students tape a candy bar to the front of a card and add an appropriate phrase such as:
You are the [$10,000] Teacher  thanks! ($10,000 Bar)
I would climb the [Andes] for you! (Andes Mint)
You've been a [Lifesaver] for me this year! (roll of Lifesaver Candy)
Read more . . .
You may also enjoy these articles:
Seven Steps to Successful Math Students (& Parents)
Happy Birthday, Library of Congress
April: Math Awareness Month
May Day Math May 01, 2015 08:20
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 handson visuals and manipulatives, stretches (brainteasers), cooperative learning activities, interactive opportunities (including Projectable Lessons) and three Excel Math versions: Common Core Edition, Texas Edition, and Standard (Non Common Core) Edition.
You also receive easytoteach 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.)
Click here to download the award
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.)
New to Excel Math? Visit our website to learn more and take a look at sample lessons: www.excelmath.com
7 Steps to Successful Math Students (& Parents) April 30, 2015 05:00
1. Overcome math anxiety
Some parents and students hear the word math and cringe. But often they forget how much math they already use each day. One way to help students overcome math anxiety is to focus on their interests. If a child enjoys playing with trucks, count them as they are taken off the shelf or put away. Ask, "If your friend brings over five more trucks, how many will you have to play with?"
A child saving for a special toy can calculate how much more money he needs to save to buy the toy. You can ask, "If grandma gives you $2.00 will you have enough to buy it?" or "I have a coupon for 20% off. If we use the coupon, how much will you need to save?" Older students can calculate tax for the purchase or a 10% 15% or 20% tip for the waiter at a restaurant.
Try pointing out math concepts as they occur in daily life. Use math vocabulary as you cut a pie into 10 pieces: "If I give dad 2/10 of this pie, how many pieces will he get?" Go shopping together and compare prices per ounce, visit a bank and explain interest rates, talk about credit and debt, double and divide recipes, plan a menu on a budget, figure out mpg when getting gas, calculate travel times and distances, compare temperature highs and lows, etc. Stress how important math is in your own life. Researchers suggest additional ways of dealing with math anxiety, including having students write about it before they have to actually begin doing math. Read more at upi.com/ScienceNews.
2. Help students learn basic math facts
Students can become discouraged with math when they don't know basic facts. Give them opportunities to practice adding, subtracting, multiplying and dividing. Having solid basic skills gives them a strong foundation for more difficult math concepts. It also builds confidence.
Play math Bingo. See who can finish a math fact worksheet (or one line of the worksheet) first. Download a worksheet here.
Try online Timed Basic Fact Practice at www.excelmath.com/practice. Help your student work toward mastery — being able to give an answer in 3 seconds.
Use flashcards: paper, online, powerpoint slides, etc. Read our previous post on creating electronic math flashcards.
3. Provide a place for homework
Encourage a homework routine. Provide pencil and paper and other materials (graph paper, ruler, protractor). Provide a quiet place where your student can concentrate on homework without being interrupted. Help your student work toward neatness in writing and organizing notebooks.
Remind your student to study each night or practice and review math concepts if math homework was not assigned. Be available for questions, but don't hover. If your student becomes overwhelmed when facing lots of problems on one page, cover the remaining problems with a piece of paper so only one or two problems show at a time.
Excel Math Student Lesson Sheets and Homework pages are designed in blocks or frames so they can easily be folded into quarters or even smaller, more manageable sections. Students can focus on just one or two problems at a time instead of becoming overloaded and stressed about 20 problems on the page.4. Encourage students to work independently
Don't do the work for your student. Have them mark a calendar to show when tests and projects are due. Feel free to give them a gentle reminder about upcoming deadlines. Help them download apps for their ipad or computer so they can practice independently. If they are not doing math homework, encourage them to practice the concepts from the previous day. Your student's math lessons will have review questions and may have online practice links. Here are a few fun websites with practice games for math:
Studyjams.scholastic.com/studyjams/jams/math/index.htm
BBC Maths
Brainormous
Cyberchase  PBS Kids FunBrain.com
Math Playground
5. Offer help when students need it
Give them a chance to find the solution themselves. Help your student identify the steps needed to solve the problem. Then explain the concept and vocabulary words, if they need clarification. Help your student define new terms. Download a Glossary of Math Terms here. Check the work and have your student revise it if you find errors. If your student needs tutoring help, have a classmate come over for a homework session or pay an older student to provide tutoring. Some neighborhood clubs and churches offer free tutoring after school. Check with your child's teacher for additional resources and suggestions. Teachers often offer help during office hours or lunch. 6. Help them master mental math
Provide practice times while in the car or waiting in line so they feel comfortable doing math in their heads. Let your student try timed basic fact practice at www.excelmath.com/practice. Have them create and use flashcards with a timer. Then have them try again to see if they can beat their best time.
7. Tackle tough problems together
Have your student do the example first as a reminder of how to solve the problem. Change word problems to reflect your child's interests. Have your student circle the numbers mentioned in the problem and cross out information that's not needed. Let him draw a picture, diagram or chart to help describe the problem. Break down harder problems into sections that are easier for the student to answer correctly. Download a free Excel Math Parent Guide to 5th Grade Math. Use physical objects to help them visualize the problem. Make sure they understand the vocabulary words. Through it all, be supportive, but don't do the work yourself. The more you can equip your student and encourage basic fact practice and foundational math concepts, the more confident and successful the student will become!
New to Excel Math? Take a look at our products: http://excelmath.myshopify.com/.
Mapping Out the Compass Rose April 29, 2015 07:39
Originally, the compass rose was used to indicate the directions of the winds (and it was then known as a wind rose), but the 32 points of the compass rose come from the directions of the eight major winds, the eight halfwinds and the sixteen quarterwinds. Each point is indicated by degrees, with 0º for North, 90º for East, 180º for South and 270º for West.
The 32 points are therefore simple bisections of the directions of the four winds (but the Chinese divided the compass into 12 major directions based on the signs of the Zodiac). North is usually at the top, and each direction is abbreviated using its first letter (N for North, E for East, etc.)
The compass rose above is divided into subsections so NE is northeast, NNE is northnortheast, NbE is north by northeast, etc. One of the first things western apprentice seamen had to know were the names of the points. Naming them all off perfectly was known as "boxing the compass." Read more at http://www.gisnet.com/notebook/comprose.php.
Here are some simpler but very colorful versions of the compass rose:
For compass rose trivia and some indepth history, visit compassrosegeocoin.com
Similar to the wind rose, the compass rose was thought to resemble the rose flower. The compass rose was used to help orient a map in the proper reading direction and gave the relative directions for certain points on the chart. Show some compass rose images to your students. Bring a few maps that contain a compass rose and let your students hold them so north is at the top. Have the students find a few places on the maps as you give them directions to move north 10 miles then west 20 miles, and then northeast 10 miles. See if they can follow your directions to find a common destination.
You can print this compass rose as a worksheet for your students to color and label with the directions N, S, E and W. Older students can also label NW, NE, SW and SE and then draw a map from their desks to the bookshelf, hallway, water fountain, or to a friend's desk. Have students exchange their maps. See who can follow the map correctly and wind up at the intended destination:
Click here to download the Excel Math Compass Rose worksheet 
In Excel Math Lesson 29 of Grade 6, students are asked to read maps of their city or state drawn to scale. Using your own state or city map, lead a discussion with the class about how to represent long distances on maps and how those representations need to be in accurate proportion to the actual distances. Try to have different maps with different scales. Let your students find a few distances on the map, calculating the distances using the map scale.
New to Excel Math? Learn more and download samples on our website: www.excelmath.com.
Tell us how you incorporate map reading into your math class. Leave a comment in the box below.
Excel Math: Fully Correlated to Common Core Standards (CCS) April 29, 2015 05:00
Excel Math provides students and teachers with powerful support, indepth practice, and frequent assessment for Common Core. Plus, Excel Math is fully correlated to the Common Core math standards. We were pleased, but not really surprised, to find out how well our Excel Math lessons correlate to the Common Core Standards. You can download our correlations by grade level and print them out for your own reference as well as for your colleagues. See samples of our
Common Core Teacher Editions for Kindergarten through Grade 6 as well as a Scope & Sequence for each grade level.
If your state has not moved to the Common Core, visit our state correlations page here. Find your state and click on the state correlations by grade level. Our Standard Teacher Editions are available for non Common Core states.
Recently, we added some Common Core Lesson pages and Projectable Lesson slides to expand on those concepts already included in the Excel Math materials. Click here for our Tools for Teachers and these newly revised lesson pages (available for download as PDF files). If you have a Teacher Edition, simply insert these revised pages into your book. If you order a new Common Core Teacher Edition, it will now include these revised pages plus additional Activities, manipulatives, discussion suggestions, and Common Core vocabulary.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 longterm retention, with powerful features and advantages, including our unique Spiraling Strategy. Read more.
If you're from the Lone Star State, you'll be glad to learn that Excel Math materials are aligned to the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS). Simply order the Texas Teacher Edition for Kindergarten through Grade 6. (A Summer School / Intersession Texas version is also available.) Excel Math is a powerful tool for preparing students for the upcoming STAAR testing. Current test results will remain strong for students using Excel Math. At the same time, Excel Math will provide them with powerful support, indepth practice, and frequent assessment for the move to STAAR. Take a look at the Excel Math correlations for Texas here.
As the Common Core guidelines recommend, Excel Math provides lots of opportunities for assessment. The difference between Excel Math and other math lessons is that with Excel Math, students are not assessed on concepts they have just been taught. Instead, students review and practice concepts over and over through homework and Guided Practice. Since math concepts are strategically spiraled through the lessons, students have a chance to get them into longterm memory before being asked to recall them on a test.
Since an entire year of Excel Math curriculum is as low as $12.00 per student (for an entire year of lessons), many schools use it as their core curriculum. Other schools find it's a powerful supplement to their adopted curriculum. In both situations, students gain confidence in mathematics as test scores soar.
Here's what one mom told us:
"My children have been using Excel Math Standard Edition at home for the last two years to supplement the math curriculum they have at school (which isn’t very effective). This year they took the Common Core Math pretest for the first time. We had been warned that our children would probably not score very well on these tests. However, my fourth grader scored 83% and my third grader (who is not a math genius) scored 98%! When people asked me if he was a math whiz, I had to tell them, “Not at all. It was the Excel Math Lesson Sheets!”
— Wendy Ulrich, Grateful Mom in San Diego, CA
Visit our web store to order these Student Lesson Sheets (155 lesson sheets plus tests) and a Teacher Edition set of 155 Lessons with brainteasers, teaching suggestions, the answer key, activities, and reproducible manipulatives for each grade level. Excel Math is available for Kindergarten through Grade 6 in three editions:April: Math Awareness Month April 28, 2015 05:00
April is Math Awareness Month. The theme for Math Awareness Month 2015 is "Math Drives Careers." The theme's goal is to make students aware of careers open to those who study math.
Each year in April the Joint Policy Board for Mathematics sponsors Mathematics Awareness Month (MAM) to recognize the importance of mathematics through written materials and an accompanying poster that highlights mathematics. The poster features snapshots of 17 people who turned their love for mathematics into rewarding and diverse careers. Learn more at www.mathaware.org/mam/2015/poster/
People trained in the mathematical sciences work across the spectrum of businesses and industries—they are not just teachers and statisticians.
In Excel Math lessons, we include a wide variety of careers and mathematical interests such as sports, cooking, reading, travel, coins and currency, budgeting, calculating sales tax, percents, and lots more. Take a look at sample Excel Math lessons on our website:
Texas (TEKS aligned—STAAR ready)
Standard (non Common Core) version
The Texas Workforce Commission has created a free Career Activities Booklet you can download for your students.
Talk about the various careers and how they incorporate math. Let your students do the activities in the booklet, and then have volunteers share their answers.
You may want to invite some of your students' parents to talk to the class about their careers and the skills necessary to do those jobs.
They could also mention the role mathematics plays in their careers.
Multiplication Tables Made Fun April 27, 2015 11:03
One of the basic concepts students learn in Excel Math is how to multiply numbers. This slide is from our Projectable Lessons CD for Third Grade:Excel Math Projectable Lesson Grade 3 
Basic Fact Practice is also built into the Excel Math program. Brain research shows that using pencil and paper to write facts helps students remember them. Read about how to use Basic Fact Practice for your math warmups and download a free worksheet on our previous post: FiveMinute Math Class WarmUp Activities.
Younger students can be asked to add (+2, +4 etc.) to the number on the outside of the track instead of multiplying. Give children 2 or 3 minutes to complete the race. Photocopy the handout back to back and ask children who finish one side to turn the page over and continue on the next side. One teacher suggested laminating the handout for durability so it can be wiped off and used over and over throughout the year.
Download your free PowerPoint of this handout at: https://www.tes.co.uk/teachingresource/racearoundtheclocktimestables3003146
TIP: If your students have not yet learned their 11 and 12 multiplication tables, white out those numbers and replace them with 7 and 8 or any other numbers your students need to practice. Then use the original sheet or modify it to fit your students' needs.
This Multiplication Jeopardy Game is a fun way to review basic multiplication facts. You choose how many teams to play. Each person on the team will have a chance to solve problems.
The BBC has a large set of creative online games, many for math (or "maths" if you're from the UK). You'll find games for factors and multiples, mental math, addition and subtraction, fractions, and lots more at http://www.bbc.co.uk/bitesize/ks2/maths/number/.
Another way to help students learn multiplication facts is by teaching them to multiply (and add) in their heads. Mental Math is an easy way to help students practice solving math problems without writing them down. Read more about Mental Math and download a free instruction sheet at excelmath.com/downloads.html.
Since Excel Math uses a unique spiraling strategy, you will need to teach multiple lessons sequentially within each grade level in order to get the concepts into your students' longterm memory. Excel Math lessons are much more than just worksheets. Rather, they provide a proven way to build confident students who enjoy math.
Visit our web store to order these Student Lesson Sheets (155 lesson sheets plus tests) and a Teacher Edition set of 155 Lessons with brainteasers, teaching suggestions, the answer key, and reproducible manipulatives for each grade level. Excel Math is available for students in Kindergarten through Grade 6. Class sets are only $12.00 per student!
How do you help your students become comfortable with multiplication? Leave a comment to share what's worked in your classroom.
Happy Birthday, Library of Congress! April 27, 2015 07:22
On April 24, 1800 the Library of Congress was established. It is the oldest federal cultural institution in the United States. President John Adams approved legislation to appropriate $5,000 to purchase "such books as may be necessary for the use of Congress," thus establishing the Library of Congress.
The first books were ordered from London and arrived in 1801. They were stored in the U.S. Capitol, the library's first home.The first library catalog listed listed 964 volumes and nine maps.
Twelve years later, the Library of Congress housed 3000 volumes. Unfortunately, the British army invaded the city of Washington that year and burned the Capitol, including the Library of Congress.
President Thomas Jefferson responded by selling his personal library, the largest and finest in the country, to Congress to "recommence" the library. The purchase of Jefferson's 6,487 volumes was approved in the next year, and a professional librarian, George Watterston, was hired to replace the House clerks in the administration of the library.
In 1851, a second major fire at the library destroyed about twothirds of its 55,000 volumes, including twothirds of the Thomas Jefferson library (pictured above). Congress responded quickly and generously to the disaster, and within a few years a majority of the lost books were replaced.
After the Civil War, the collection was greatly expanded, and by the 20th century the Library of Congress had become the de facto national library of the United States and one of the largest in the world. Today, the collection is housed in three enormous buildings in Washington. Pictured at right is the
The Library of Congress does not a have a copy of every book published in the United States but it does have more than 36 million books and printed materials as well as more than 121 million maps, manuscripts, photographs, films, audio and video recordings, prints and drawings, and other special collections.
The Copyright Office is part of the Library of Congress. All works under copyright protection that are published in the United States are subject to the mandatory deposit provision of the copyright law. This means that each copyrighted work is sent to the Library of Congress. Here's a photochrom print from about 1901 of the Reading Room in the Rotunda.
Our Excel Math lessons are registered with the Copyright Office. You can see the copyright date on each Excel Math publication. Here's a Grade 6 Student Lesson Sheet. New to Excel Math? Learn how to get started.
On this page the copyright notice is in the bottom righthand corner:
The Library of Congress has a large collection of teacher resources, lesson ideas and worksheets you can use in the classroom. Visit them at http://www.loc.gov/education/ for more information and to download printables.
You may also enjoy these articles:Back to Basics with 21st Century Math April 24, 2015 13:30
For over 35 years Excel Math has been helping students build solid math skills. And those rigorous math lessons continue to help students succeed today.
In Excel Math our Student Lesson Sheets for Grades 1  6 include a section called Basic Fact Practice.
Students complete these problems after the Lesson section and before the Guided Practice (unless you choose to use these problems as bell work).
In this way, basic math facts are practiced regularly. Students have a chance to get basic facts into their longterm memory and continue reviewing them throughout the year.
Here's an example of addition and subtraction fact practice on the Excel Math Student Lesson Sheets for Grade 2:
The Basic Fact Practice portion of the Student Lesson Sheet can be used as a way to start your math period or as bell work so students are on task the minute they enter the classroom. The problems will be fairly easy at first (helping students build their confidence) but will increase in difficulty during the year. Excel Math gives students a chance to practice basic facts for several weeks before we ask them to use those facts in complex problems.
Basic Fact Practice is also included on the Projectable Lessons CD for Grades 16. Have your students solve the equations on your smart board or white board while the whole class focuses together on the problems. The first Projectable slide shows the problems with blank areas for the student to write the answers. The subsequent slide shows the answers in red. You can use this Basic Fact Practice as a daily timed quiz or read the problems aloud before projecting them for aural practice of basic math facts.
Typically the first six weeks of a grade in Excel Math will review content presented during the first twothirds of the prior year. You can give your incoming students an Excel Math Placement Test to help determine where they should start in math.
These easytouse placement tests can be combined with basic fact skills tests to assess your students’ readiness for math.
Print the placement tests by clicking on the images below. Placement tests are available in English and Spanish. Send us an email or comment with your email address and we'll send you the answer key. Use the test to determine where a student should start in the Excel Math program.
Click on Products or Store Home in the menu bar above or download the Order Form when you are ready to order Excel Math Lessons. Leave a comment in the box below if you have questions or would like to receive a sample packet of Excel Math lessons (specify Common Core, Texas or Standard Edition).
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 – sixth grade. Instructions for using the tests are included.
If students have trouble with the evaluation test for a particular grade, it shows they have only a partial grasp of the previous year’s work.
It may be difficult for your students to work through one lesson per day.
After the first six weeks, the Lesson Sheets will introduce new concepts and concepts from the end of the prior year. Therefore, progress will be slower than the first six weeks.
The placement evaluation tests are cumulative. Sometimes concepts are not tested because the students have already shown mastery on the test for the prior year.
We suggest you give students one or more tests depending on your knowledge of their ability level.
Excel Math also provides a web page with Timed Basic Fact Practice for students who need additional math fact practice with addition, subtraction, multiplication and/or division. Students can do this timed practice on their computers for bell work, when they finish an assignment early, or whenever you have a few minutes left at the end of class.
Let them see how many correct answers they can get in 60 seconds and then try to beat their personal best.
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Happy Birthday, Library of Congress
April: Math Awareness Month