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Finding Online Help with Math and Algebra

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If you are interested in getting a free preAlgebra practice workbook scroll down to the bottom of these links. No gimmicks and no charges. Even shipping is free.

Math is one area in which parents and students are always seeking additional help. As such I have put together an extensive list of resources and placed them here. They include homework help, basic foundation practice, and advanced math practice as well as games. They are placed at this site due to space restrictions.

General site

Math for fun

General Math help sites

Math for beginners

Elementary and middle school math

K-12 math links

Math teacher links

Puzzles and activities

Math and architecture lesson plan

Great for all levels.

Higher level math

Printable flash cards

Primary math links

Math grants

Math homework help sites

Are you interested in getting a free pre-Algebra workbook that is over 100 pages and does not contain any ads? My publisher is going to make them available at the end of summer in classroom sets. Just email me through my site and click on my name. It automatically connects you. This is all free and sponsored by the new car dealers association. No gimmicks, no ads, just teacher-to-teacher help.

Scion xB

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You smile when you see a Volkswagen Beetle, you grin at a Chrysler PT Cruiser, but you openly laugh when you see the new Toyota Scion xB because, in a word, it looks like a Tonka toy. There is no question you are either going to love or hate this station wagon, but regardless, it is going to sell well. The reason is simple, it is priced well and has a very useful design and most people are going to take pleasure in the attention.

If you watch you option list you can be driving this Scion for $14,200 and get over 30 mpg and we strongly believe, excellent resale. In other words, Toyota has another winner in its stable, and this one is going to delight the all-new Scion dealer network because this little rig is a blank canvas waiting for some creative options. For example, Toyota lists as options some of the most unconventional items we have ever seen. You can load you Scion with illuminated cupholders, LED interior lights, bazooka tube subwoofer, satellite radio, carbon-fiber fuel door cover, special shift knob, cargo tote, sport pedal covers, mud guards, door sill enhancement B-pillar appliqué, and a rear spoiler to mention just a few. Add essentials such as curtain side airbags and front side airbags, remote keyless entry, and alloy wheels and you can pretty much be assured you are going to own an exclusive looking mass produced vehicle. Of course, if you order all those the list price is going to be at $20,000 so be judicious. All told there are about 40 options for the xB and Scion is said have a no haggle policy so what you read it what you pay. Some cavets when ordering the optional big subwoofer, it takes up a lot of storage room. In addition, the stereo reception is poor unless you get the satellite option, which is worth it.

Mom’s view: We tested the automatic transmission xB and found it plenty spunky at first thanks to the small tires and light weight. However, once the Scion is over 4000 rpm the acceleration ends and the engine groans and its time to think seriously about visiting your local tuner shop. We stopped at Autolinks Motorworks, 4961 Santa Anita Blvd, in San Gabriel, Calif. and were told even the more normal looking xA has drawn a barrage of customizers.

Despite the options, what I liked were the standard features. The xB comes with ABS; air conditioning; power windows, locks, mirrors and steering; a six-speaker Pioneer stereo with a CD player; a 60/40-split folding and removable rear seat; keyless entry; a rear wiper; rear defroster; a tachometer; and a ground effects kit as well as airbags.

What I didn’t like was its size. It is ten inches shorter than a Toyota Echo and people feel that since the Scion is small they can just shove you around in traffic. I used the horn extensively to no avail. I would pay extra for a louder horn. In fact, an air horn mounted on the roof would probably look great and give the bullies a clear message that they don’t own the road. Luckily, the Scion handles and stops quite well. And it comes well-equipped with active safety features: antilock brakes (ABS) with Brake Assist (which increases braking pressure in emergency situations) and Electronic Brake-force Distribution (which apportions braking force to the tires with the most traction); Vehicle Stability Control (which attempts to restrain a vehicle from spinning out of control by adjusting the application of throttle and brakes); and traction control.

There were a variety of storage areas inside, including the usual glove box, and map pockets, and trays under the dash. What bothered me the most was the lack of good rear interior lighting when you were searching for dark items you dropped. Maybe this car is designed for younger eyes, but a more powerful interior lighting system wouldn’t hurt.

Overall, I liked the Scion and would recommend it to those who find its styling attractive. For a few dollars a month more I would prefer a more modest looking station wagon from Subaru or Volkswagen, but I would miss the attention the Toyota brings. A real plus is that I never felt I was driving a small car.

Dad’s view: I am way too old for this vehicle, and the Scion is selling well to those who are the proper age, 20 to 30. The reason is obvious, I don’t need the attention. However, every time I climbed inside I felt comfortable at home and eagerly tested the Scion with zeal. But, when I walked to the car I was always meet with the same look by those in attendance. You could read their eyes. They said, “What did your kid do wrong that caused you to take his car away?”

The Scion needs more power if it is equipped with an automatic transmission. The 1.5-liter inline four-cylinder engine has variable valve timing, but runs out of gusto after 4000 rpm.  It’s the same engine used in the Toyota Echo and creates 108 horsepower which is fine in city driving, but when passing or accelerating you need to plan ahead even thought the Scion weighs just 2340 and has 105 foot pounds of torque.

You can drive this Scion hard. It rides smoothly and is effortless to drive with good brakes. It’s no hot rod, however, so shifting into lower gears is needed for quick acceleration. Inside, it’s roomy and has a nice interior with controls that are easy to operate. The driver and passengers sit upright in chair-like seats and benefit from excellent visibility. As its looks suggest, the xB offers better cargo capacity than your average compact car.

Young working female’s view: This is a tall fellow. Its over 64 inches tall and offers an extremely roomy interior. It is uncomplicated to fit in a baby seat, don’t worry dad, and if you fold the rear seats down you have yourself 43 cubic feet of room. Forget the subwoofer if you want to haul things because it is placed right in the middle of the rear storage area.

In terms of appearance, there is little question this is a price leader. The interior is youthful and I found it very difficult to read the center-mounted gauges because of the poor lighting and the small numbers for the tach and fuel indicator. With an 11.9-gallon gas tank, you can go 300 miles, but we won’t try any more. I averaged about 28 mpg in mixed driving.

You can order the Scion with either an automatic-transmission or manual transmission, expect 0 to 60 mph speeds around ten seconds. However, with the gas pedal rigged to provide a lot of acceleration initially you feel you are moving faster. It does not take long to figure out that the feeling of speed quickly evaporates after 30 mph. Still, this is excellent for commuting, but not so hot for high speed passing.

There is no way that I would consider the Scion. Although the price is attractive, I would rather have the new Toyota Solara and drive a car that exhibits the appearance I want to display for the driving public.

Young working male’s view: I hope you got a chance to hear me at the House of Blues. Anyway, this is not my type of vehicle for only one reason, it is too trendy. I do appreciate what you get for the money. The car runs great and, except for the usual short wheelbase roughness over banged up pavement and low bidder highway potholes, the chassis does its job exceptionally well. If you want his car to handle better, the tires and rims need to be changed. I enjoyed driving the car and listening to CDs with the optional stereo and elaborate speaker system. But the radio reception was sub par except for the satellite stations which are worth the $10 a month extra fee.

Big trucks and side winds definitely alter your driving style as the square sides and lightweight conspire to make you well aware that you are piloting a small car. The good news here is that the Scion’s narrow stance leaves plenty of extra room in the lane so the gusts are unproblematic to compensate for.

The steering was very good; the brakes more than up to the task, and the interior surprisingly quiet. You have the feeling you are sitting high in seats that are a bit thin in the padding department. Visibility was well above average and driving in heavy traffic was only a problem when some large SUV was tailgating. I learned not to worry and just turned up the stereo and admired Toyota’s creativity.

Family conference: Scion plans on bringing out a coupe and perhaps a sedan later, but in the meantime, if the xB appeals to your sense of aesthetics we recommend you drive and buy soon because this is going to be a hit in some areas. What it is going to be like driving in the snow is another matter with its small tires and low ride height. Perhaps, in a few years, the Scion will come out with all wheel drive and it might appeal more to the snowbound. Regardless, this is a good vehicle, and a valuable one at the suggested base price. We would like to see the crash test results first, but we are sure that  Toyota has we spent a bundle to make sure the Scion is tough since a poor scores would be the only element that would hinder sales.  On the other hand you might want to wait until next year when a new, not so squared off version arrives. For all vehicle websites go to and click on business.

Graphic Organizers: Helping Students See


By Alan Haskvitz, national inservice presenter

The graphic organizer material is located here:

It includes a variety of printable graphic organizers for most every level and every subject. All free such as those for Four Blocks, Literacy, Venn diagrams, and design your own.

The are all here and more

For additional resources on all subjects go to and use the search engine.

2007 Honda Civic Hybrid Review: Highway Friendly

By The Car Family

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You don’t buy a Honda Hybrid to save money, you buy it because it makes you feel good about doing your part to make the world a better place. To this end, it works. The Hybrid is nearly as joyful to drive as a regular Civic with good performance, a roomy interior, and gas mileage that is consistently in the 40-mpg range or better. The bad news is that it does not handle like a regular Civic because of its heavy battery pack and gas mileage oriented tires. So, in essence, this is a delightful commuter car and a bargain at about $22.000.

Price wise, the Hybrid runs a few thousand dollars more than a comparably equipped Civic. For the additional funding you get a lot of technology and some pride of ownership. However, even with gas at record high levels and the Hybrid returning about 30 percent better fuel mileage in daily driving, it would take several years to save the extra cost of the Hybrid. And, just as you would be narrowing the difference, the Hybrid’s battery pack would have to be replaced at a cost of several thousand dollars. On the other hand, if you justified your car buying decision only on costs everyone would be driving a sub-compact vehicle. A car has got to make you feel good to own it and the Hybrid does just that.The major competition for the Hybrid is the Toyota Prius The Toyota car had been redone for 2004 and offered significant improvements over the excellent first version that debuted a few years ago. Currently, the difference in the new Prius and the Hybrid is in the ride, quietness, interior space, and appointments. Overall, the Honda is sportier, but not too sporty, and is less visible. In fact, when we went to a crowded mall we could not find our Hybrid because it blended in so well with all the other Civics. We had to use the remote and look and listen. We felt like a mother lion who was searching for her cub.

Mom’s view: I didn’t mind it at all, except for the gauges which were too small and too difficult to read with their bright and trendy colors. I also found that the air conditioning was hard pressed to cool the interior in our 105-degree test days. I would have the windows tinted immediately. Otherwise, this is a handy car.In smaller cars, safety is always one of my concerns. This is especially true as large SUVs with phone using drivers have been known to overlook vehicles that don’t ride as high as they do. To help alleviate any fears Honda provides dual-stage front airbags, front side airbags, stability control, ABS brakes, and dual-side impact door beams. It does need a louder horn.

Overall, this is a pleasant vehicle with enough snap to make it capable of blending in on crowded highways and an interior that is acceptable, if not a bit youthful for my taste. Would I want one for my daily driver? Yes, and no. Although I obviously love the gas mileage and size of the Hybrid, I find the fact that you have to sacrifice the fold down rear seat to accommodate the battery pack frustrating at times when I have a long item to carry. I also find the gauges difficult to quickly read and nearly impossible to comprehend while wearing sunglasses. Other than that this is would be a great value and a treat for the environment.

Dad’s view: No, this car does not have to be plugged in and, no, this car does not just run on batteries. It runs on a combination of a gasoline engine and batteries and it does this very well. The news here is the engine and motor that combine to power the Hybrid with such efficiency.The Hybrid’s 1.3-liter 4-cylinder gasoline 93 horsepower engine has been highly modified with special ignition, lean burn combustion, two spark plugs per cylinder, and variable value controls. The engine also has low-friction pistons, thin-sleeve cylinder walls, lightweight intake manifold and meets Ultra-Low Emission Vehicle requirements. Can you say clean, and you still get plenty of low speed grunt with 116 foot-pounds of coming online at a low 1500 rpm.

Assisting the engine is a 10 kilowatts electric motor that utilizes nickel-metal-hydride batteries that are recharged by the gas engine as well as by deceleration and braking. Thus you don’t plug this car in to an outlet. The batteries take up space that is hardly missed, but it does require the elimination of that very popular rear-seat fold down feature available on other Civics. The electric motor is brushless and silent and gives you about between 15 and 30hp of electric boost at high speeds, and is capable of providing all the drive energy necessary in slow, bumper-to-bumper traffic. Honda calls this the Integrated Motor Assist. The electric motor sits between the engine and transmission and together they operate nearly seamlessly.

You can order a five-speed manual or the continuously variable automatic transmission version that we evaluated. Either way, in real life you get about 42 miles per gallon on the highway with the air-conditioning working. On a cool day at posted limits you can count on a ten percent higher figure with a family onboard.One element I found disconcerting was the fact that the Hybrid automatically turns off its engine when you are stopped and have your foot on the brake pedal. This does not stop the air-conditioning and stereo from continuing to work without pause. The problem is that once you release your foot from the brake pedal the car immediately starts and gives a slight tug. This is barely a fault, but it is more noticeable than I found while driving the competition’s Toyota Prius.

The Civic accelerates fairly well, but if you are going at a brisk pace don’t expect much of a boast when you ask the Honda for more power. It is set-up more for cruising. It definitely is not set up for canyon runs. In addition, if you are going uphill at speed with the air on the batteries can be exhausted and you must rely on the gas engine only. This can slow you. This Honda is not at its best in the mountains. Besides, the gas mileage oriented tires don’t appreciate having their sidewalls tested and the steering is slow to react to tight corners. Let’s be honest, here, Hybrid is a couple of hundreds pounds heavier than other Civics and simply not aimed for the sports car crowd. But, since gas prices are now at record highs, I feel that some those lead footed drivers would welcome the 600 miles or more range of the Hybrid.

Besides all the technological extras under the hood, Honda also provides a firmer suspension, larger brakes, clear tail lamps, a small spoiler, 15-inch lightweight alloy wheels, automatic climate control air conditioning, air filtration system, cruise control, power steering, tilt steering wheel, power mirrors, windows and door locks, and an AM/FM/CD system. In other words, the Hybrid is a bargain.

Driving the Hybrid is relaxing and makes it easy for you to forget that you are in an economy car. The sound level is reasonable, the performance adequate, and there is enough room to get comfortable. If you are a smooth driver this is a nice ride. If you are into cut and thrust driving, find it difficult to spend more than a few seconds behind any other vehicle, or display your ego with your exhaust tips, this isn’t your gas sipper.

College going male’s view: I didn’t mind the Hybrid one bit. To me, driving an “alternative” powered vehicle says I care and one of these should be in every high school and professional driver training program in the United States. Let people know that driving green machines is not an ordeal and plenty cool. On the down side was the radio reception. You would think that with a high masted antenna stuck in the middle of the roof you would be able to pull in some long distance stations, but it was not to be. The rear seat has a fair amount of room. The seats need a lumbar support badly. You buy this car to spend long hours in and the front seats just aren’t all that comfortable.Family conference: It is easy to decide if you want the Honda Hybrid or its competition, the Prius, by looking at your annual fuel bill and donation list. If you support environmental organizations these are must have cars. If you would like to save between ten and twenty percent on your gas bill, these cars are naturals. On the other hand, they cost more to service, don’t handle as well as sportier models, and have an uncertain resale history to draw from. If you are undecided, Ford promises a hybrid powered Escape shortly and several other manufacturers are coming online with their alternative powered vehicles so you may want to wait a few months. Regardless, you need to test drive this Honda to see what the future is bringing.

For a list of all vehicle manufacturer websites go to and click on business

By Alan Haskvitz, national inservice presenter

I have put together the best sites I could find about using butterflies and insects to teach students in elementary and middle school. I have posted them here where there is also a search engine to make finding lessons easier.

A Great Mother’s Day Lesson Plan

By Alan Haskvitz, national inservice presenter

This is a great idea that enables the student to compare their mother to other significant women in history.

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