|Grades: K-6||Excel Math|
Excel Math is based on continuous spiraling approach and is designed for classroom use, but can be an inexpensive solution to homeschooling too. Each lesson comes as a separate sheet of paper, where the actual lesson and homework are on the front side, and guided practice on the back side (no book).
Each lesson introduces new concepts, and practices old ones, but student gets homework on the new concept only a week after it is introduced (see a picture of the Excel Math spiraling strategy). Because of the constant review of previously taught concepts on the Guided Practice, you are not looking for total mastery on the day a concept is introduced in the lesson. This can be a good thing for slower learners, or an unnecessary slowing down for others.
Teacher's edition lesson plans are simple and to the point (not scripted). The student sheets are black and white. The program seems to work well in public schools since it is shown to improve test scores.
You can order a free sample package including a video, a sample lesson sheet for each grade and corresponding plan from the Teacher's edition, and scope & sequence.
Price: Student set $21/year, teacher edition $33/year.
Reviews of Excel Math curriculum
Time: 3 years
Your situation: I teach in a mixed grade elementary classroom, in which we differentiate the curriculum for each student. A student may be in 2nd grade, but they will do the math that is within their ability range. This usually means that students are working at least on grade level, with the potential to work at a faster pace or on higher grade level math.
Why you liked/didn't like the book: Excel math is great for differentiating curriculum. Students who pick up new concepts more slowly can do the math at the steady Math Excel pace. Once a student has grasped a concept, you can easily skip the practice pages which are a bit redundant. I wouldn't recommend this system unless you are willing to let your students work at the pace that works for them.
Any other helpful hints: The Math Excel website offers math placement tests, so you can determine what level to start your students on.
Review left April 11, 2012
Time: 3 years
Your situation: I taught with this program in K for two years and now in second. I did not like the K program. Too hard for beginners in an under developed economic area(poor,under privileged kids).
Why you liked/didn't like the book: I did not like the way the numbers were taught either. Now in second grade they are bored and honestly I had a hard time figuring out what exactly some of the sheets were asking for. I also feel like I am not teaching anything! It is great as a supplement but not as the main form of instruction. I am having to fill in gaps and teach K and 1st grade skills that they missed that are required by our state.
Any other helpful hints: Use more than just Excel Math or students will not have sufficient information for state testing.
Review left November 17, 2011
Students don't have to copy problems out of text books, all time is spent on learning math. There is a warm-up section daily, no need to locate and copy warm-up problems on the board. Students don't have to carry home a book to do homework. The tight spiral keeps things moving and keeps skills sharp. If you or your students are sick of the same topic for several weeks, Excel is for you. I am confident that I have covered everything by the time state tests roll around. Scores on state tests increased in my school after using Excel. The program does suggest extension items daily and it is easy to differentiate by marking the student's papers-having them do the appropriate problems.
If you think the program repeats too much you can split it with someone and do the page for every-other-day or save the odd pages for another child. The first 21 lessons of each grade are review.
Review left November 21, 2008
My kids are homeschooled now, but just since Nov. 2006. They were in public school before that. The schools used these exclusively until they went back to math books due to the WestTest.
Why you liked/didn't like the book:
I did not like these worksheets at all, as some kids are bored to death with the constant repitition. Repitition is needed, however in Math, and I understand that, but not to the extent that the Excel worksheets use. Homework can be a nightmare sometimes with these, because a parent has no way to know how the concept is being taught. I would help my kids do them the way I was taught, and of course, that was not the way they are taught now so it was only confusing for them. There aren't many examples, if any at all on some sheets.
Any other helpful hints:
I wouldn't recommend them as THE main math curriculum, only as a supplement as they would be great for review.