Four examples of spreadsheets within the classroom setting

Spreadsheets are important to understand in the field of mathematics. They can be used in many different ways to help students understand different concepts. Spreadsheets are used in most mathematical careers as well as used in many higher education classes. Learning how to read spreadsheets and use some basic skills within spreadsheets will help prepare students for furthering their education and in some life skills.

Comparing Formulas

Teaching students about formulas and how they work is a skill used throughout junior high and high school mathematics. Spreadsheets can be very helpful when studying formulas. Students learn the algebraic formula (y=2x+1) and then learn the same formula in a recursive way. Using a graphing calculator and the “Ans” key, students can see the same pattern the algebraic formula creates, in a recursive format. The students then do a lesson on a spreadsheet using the same data tables and creating formulas needed to create the data in the cells. Through these different techniques students start to understand what formulas are for, how to read formulas, and how they work.

Matrices

Spreadsheets are also very useful in learning the basics of matrices. Matrices are an array of numbers that are put into perfect rows and columns, just like a spreadsheet. Using a spreadsheet full of data and having the students answer questions regarding the data within the spreadsheet helps students understand how to read and analyze data that is also in matrices. Students have to understand how to use rows and columns to get to the correct cell of information. The same is needed to read the correct data within a matrix.

Comparing Tables, Graphs and Formulas

Tables, graphs and formulas are a large part of mathematics and spreadsheets use all three of these tools. When teaching students the connections between the three formats, how the tools are the same and how they are different can be done on a spreadsheet. Students would have the ability to compare tables, graphs, and formulas while figuring out which table and graph go together and how to make those connections. Students can also discuss which format they like the most and why, and which format is most helpful, depending on what information is needed. Making all these comparisons in a spreadsheet can be much faster than making them by hand. Doing this project by hand would be tedious and the lesson could be lost in figuring out all the aspects of hand creating graphs, tables, and formulas.

Finding the Best Graph

Not only can students compare the connections between tables, graphs, and formulas, students can also learn the differences between diverse kinds of graphs. Spreadsheets provide several kinds of graphs: line, pie, histogram, box and whisker, etc. Using provided data, students can create several graphs to decide which graph portrays the data the best. This helps students understand why we have so many kinds of graphs and how to read and interpret the graphs better. Students would also understand what data goes with which graph.

There are so many ways teachers can use spreadsheets within math curriculum. It is important for students to understand the basics of spreadsheets as they are used all the time. The skill of using and reading spreadsheets is becoming more of a necessity as they are used in so many aspects of our culture.

Spreadsheet Lesson

Spreadsheets are important to understand in the field of mathematics. They can be used in many different ways to help students understand different concepts. Spreadsheets are used in most mathematical careers as well as used in many higher education classes. Learning how to read spreadsheets and use some basic skills within spreadsheets will help prepare students for furthering their education and in some life skills.

Comparing Formulas

Teaching students about formulas and how they work is a skill used throughout junior high and high school mathematics. Spreadsheets can be very helpful when studying formulas. Students learn the algebraic formula (y=2x+1) and then learn the same formula in a recursive way. Using a graphing calculator and the “Ans” key, students can see the same pattern the algebraic formula creates, in a recursive format. The students then do a lesson on a spreadsheet using the same data tables and creating formulas needed to create the data in the cells. Through these different techniques students start to understand what formulas are for, how to read formulas, and how they work.

Matrices

Spreadsheets are also very useful in learning the basics of matrices. Matrices are an array of numbers that are put into perfect rows and columns, just like a spreadsheet. Using a spreadsheet full of data and having the students answer questions regarding the data within the spreadsheet helps students understand how to read and analyze data that is also in matrices. Students have to understand how to use rows and columns to get to the correct cell of information. The same is needed to read the correct data within a matrix.

Comparing Tables, Graphs and Formulas

Tables, graphs and formulas are a large part of mathematics and spreadsheets use all three of these tools. When teaching students the connections between the three formats, how the tools are the same and how they are different can be done on a spreadsheet. Students would have the ability to compare tables, graphs, and formulas while figuring out which table and graph go together and how to make those connections. Students can also discuss which format they like the most and why, and which format is most helpful, depending on what information is needed. Making all these comparisons in a spreadsheet can be much faster than making them by hand. Doing this project by hand would be tedious and the lesson could be lost in figuring out all the aspects of hand creating graphs, tables, and formulas.

Finding the Best Graph

Not only can students compare the connections between tables, graphs, and formulas, students can also learn the differences between diverse kinds of graphs. Spreadsheets provide several kinds of graphs: line, pie, histogram, box and whisker, etc. Using provided data, students can create several graphs to decide which graph portrays the data the best. This helps students understand why we have so many kinds of graphs and how to read and interpret the graphs better. Students would also understand what data goes with which graph.

There are so many ways teachers can use spreadsheets within math curriculum. It is important for students to understand the basics of spreadsheets as they are used all the time. The skill of using and reading spreadsheets is becoming more of a necessity as they are used in so many aspects of our culture.

Spreadsheet Lesson

- Description of the lesson: Tracking change within a spreadsheet- Using given data on the population change of an animal, students will write simple formulas to show future growth within a spreadsheet. Students will then compare the formulas used within a spreadsheet to the ones used on a graphing calculator, and algebraic formulas.
- Goals: Students will be able to write basic formulas within cells and be able to move/scroll through data to easily make more “future” data. Students will see how spreadsheets are helpful in organizing information, and in making tables very quickly compared to writing by hand. Students will be able to compare formula writing in spreadsheets to graphing calculators and algebraic rules. Basic skills learned:
- changing cell sizes
- filtering to round to the whole number
- creating mathematical formulas for cells to follow
- Data that will be used: Using the tables from the text (Core-Plus Mathematics Course 1), and the story information provided, students will be asked to create the same tables using formulas, not just writing in the numbers. Once, formulas are written, creating more years worth of data then what the text has. Explaining the difference between writing in information and writing in formulas will be explained along with expecting titles for columns of data. See example spreadsheet below.
- Here is a glimpse of the spreadsheet information. There are 3 different pages, showing the stages and formulas used within this lesson. The link, to see the formulas in action is: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/ccc?key=0AtcvTnFa87LddF9tMUJ5Um9QdzJIempYZXY0cElTSUE

Resources

Core-Plus Mathematics. (2008). (2nd ed.). Glencoe/McGraw-Hill Publications. Retrieved from http://www.wmich.edu/cpmp/index.html

Doering, Aaron H., Roblyer, M.D., (2012). Educational technology into teaching sixth edition. Boston. Pearson Education Inc.