In this section we will reflect upon the following points -
- What a spreadsheet is.
- How spreadsheets can be used.
- Ideas for using spreadsheets in the classroom.
- Where you can find tutorials to help you further.
A spreadsheet is an interactive computer program for those wishing to analyse data presented in a table. The program operates on data represented as cells organised in rows and columns. Each cell can contain either numeric or text data, or the results of formulas that automatically calculate and display a sum based on the contents inputted into other cells.
You can make changes in any of the cells and instantly see the effects on calculated values. This makes the spreadsheet useful for "what-if" scenarios since many cases can be rapidly investigated without tedious manual recalculation. Modern spreadsheet software can have multiple interacting sheets, and can display data either as text and numerals, or in graphical form.
Click here for a great beginner's guide.
Spreadsheets, at first glance. appear quite intimidating! But as with most applications, it is best to start with the simpler functions. Below, we've listed some ideas for using spreadsheets in the classroom. Scroll to the bottom of the page and you'll find links to useful video tutorials that can give you further assistance.
- Ask learners to keep a spreadsheet diary of what they spend their money on. You can use headings such as 'food', 'clothes', socialising etc. It will help them assess how savvy they are with their money! (if you feel that students from low-income families may not want to participate, give them a dummy-list of your monthly expenditure to interpret!)
- Build rubrics for student assessment. Make the assessment process easier by crafting spreadsheet rubrics. To craft a rubric of this type, type the name of the project on which you are grading your students into the first column, leave the second column blank and type the possible points for that project into the third column. As you grade student work, fill in the spreadsheet. Print the finished sheet to hand back to students with their projects, showing them their resulting grades.
- Use spreadsheets with students to calculate survey results. Learn about your students, and help them gather information about their peers by conducting class surveys and calculating the results with spreadsheets. Allow students to come up with queries to pose to classmates. For example, they could ask their peers about their favorite colors, the TV shows they prefer or the places they would most like to go on vacation. Record the results in spreadsheets, or show your students how to tackle the task and allow them to do so.
- Build charts with spreadsheets to display results graphically. Using the graph function in your spreadsheet program, create charts to show the results of your surveys, the average grade in your class or the student project score distribution. Hang up the digitally created graphs to share the information, and get your students more accustomed to reading graphic displays of information.
- Create budgets with students. Even though your students likely don't yet have bills to pay, you can still help them develop budgeting skills by setting up spreadsheet budgets and asking them to plan how they will use their allowance or lunch money.
Click here for more ideas and real-life case studies.
- If you are a beginner, create a simple spreadsheet for your own income and expenditure.
- Create, share, and collaborate on the web with documents, spreadsheets, presentations, and more using Google Docs
here you'll find a Text Tutorial
or Video Tutorial to get you started (it's far less scary than it sounds!)