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Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Flag Day Math
 Flag flying in the breeze Friday, June 14 is Flag Day. The flag pictured on the left flies year-round outside our home in San Diego. We have to replace it each year because the sunny weather fades it to a light pink after 11 or 12 months. (Today it doesn't look as bright as it does in the photo—must be time to go shopping for a new flag.) Flag Day is believed to have first originated in 1885 when B.J. Cigrand, a schoolteacher in Fredonia, Wisconsin Public School, District 6, arranged for the pupils in his district to celebrate 'Flag Birthday'—the 108th anniversary of the official adoption of The Stars and Stripes. On June 14, 1889, George Balch, a kindergarten teacher in New York City, planned flag related ceremonies for the children of his school. His idea of observing Flag Day was later adopted by the State Board of Education of New York.
 In Excel Math, students tackle word problems in 2nd through 6th grades. In addition to shorter problems that occur regularly throughout the lessons, Excel Math has a unique take on story problems, called Create A Problem. With these more complex word problems, students are given a chance to express their own understanding of a story problem. Create A Problem exercises merge math and literacy as they help students develop higher-order thinking skills. Here's a flag Create A Problem from Second Grade: Excel Math Create A Problem worksheet Click here to download a copy.
 Your students can use the instructions on this worksheet to make their own flag pin after they solve the math problems. (Provide safety  pins and beads if you decide to do the craft.) The answer sheet appears below. Create A Problem lessons start with simple stories and give students a chance to observe what is happening in the story. They then use those observations to have the students solve problems. Later in the curriculum, we ask students to create a problem or two, and make up a CheckAnswer. (Read about the CheckAnswer system in our previous blog post.)  Finally, students are able to finish a story in their own words and write several problems about their story ending. This demonstrates mastery AND integration. The format of the page allows longer answers, along with charts, graphs and other expressions of the students' solutions.
 Answers to the Excel Math Create A Problem worksheet shown above After answering each of the questions on the worksheet, the students should draw a picture of an American flag. Or, if they are from another country, have them draw the flag of that country, too. (You can find flag images from around the world online.) How do you help your students celebrate Flag Day? Leave a comment in the box below to share your strategies.

New to Excel Math? Preview elementary math lessons that really work for Kindergarten through Sixth Grade on our website: www.excelmath.com. Also find math resources for teachers, parents and students and walk through the curriculum at excelmath.com/tour/tour01.html.

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