This purpose of this page is to elevate spreadsheets to their unique position in support of higher level thinking skills, project based learning, 21st Century Skills, and NETS, mathematical, and language arts standards. The type of spreadsheet does not matter, whether it be Microsoft Excel or the free Open Office Calc. Please feel free to contribute to the start of what will be innovative ways of using spreadsheets as a tool to engage students and facilitate real learning, collaboration, problem solving, and skill acquisition that compliments core standards.

Feel free to download the external image msword.png excel_story_8.doc. For the past several years I have worked at finding mathematical story problems that can be used in spreadsheets to facilitate student thinking and problem solving. I believe that many times when a math problem engages a student to break down the process and analyze the steps a sense of understanding is accomplished. Working in groups, collaboration, is also encouraged. I would like to share 18 problems I have found that align with eighth grade math standards. I am only listing the problems, but would be happy to email the excel workbook that supports these problems showing the answers. All of these require students to have a knowledge of spreadsheets, fill down techniques, formatting, and equations. In the future I plan to create a Moodle unit that will incorporate these problems and possibly encourage simultaneous use of Google Docs. In this way, students could work in virtual groups regardless of their location. I am also looking for more problems that could be aligned with other grade levels. Please feel free to contribute as I build this project.

This is also my attempt to provide an opportunity to learn about obscure graphs. external image msword.png charts.doc. How many times have you looked at or had student questions as to the use of all of those different graph choices? It seems we all use bar, column, line, and pie but are not as familiar with donuts, radar, stacked, double line, and bubble. I have included some papers that I created for student use that may help open this door. After experimenting with these graphs, it is great to have students come up with their own data and ideas for using different graphs. Again, please share any other ways you know to incorporate those more obscure graphs. I guarantee that as you and your students study and analyze this area of graphing you will begin to stretch those higher order thinking skills in order to explain data in different unique ways.

So many time we give students data or tell them what to graph. This external image msword.png grade_spreadsheet.doc allows students to determine what they wish to look for, find the data, and then write a story about it. After teaching computer related topics for over 15 years, I finally came up with this simple but powerful activity. It is amazing how good students can be at finding and analyzing data when they are looking for ideas they are interested in. This works great as a collaborative activity for both creation and sharing. Students can find information on the internet or they can bring in their own. Some students love to bring in data that they can eat in the end. I have learned that not all 2.5 ounce packages of gummy bears contain the same number of gummy bears. Think of the opportunities for project based learning this opens up. Through sharing, students learn and understand how to use all kinds of graphs and also why it is important that portrayal of data must make sense. It is simple, fun, and engaging, and can lead to further investigation! Use this document as a template and change some of the open-ended questions to reflect grade level standards. Change the request for type of graphs as you see fit.

This external image msword.png carribean_graph.doc activity uses spreadsheets as a tool for students to gather, analyze, and synthesize data based on standards within their grade level curriculum. In this specific activity, students use the CIA World Fact Book, spreadsheets, and word processing to evaluate different Caribbean countries as to the viability of placing a chain of bookstores in several of the countries. Students work in groups to collaborate and finally present their information. This activity would also work great using Intel's free classroom thinking and collaboration tool entitled VisualRanking. I cover this tool on this Wiki's Intel Thinking Tools section. I have shared this project because I believe it demonstrates how teachers must facilitate learning by using multiple resources and tools to engage students as they ultimately gain skills related to core curriculum standards, NETS standards, and 21st Century skills.

Not elevated enough yet?

I am constantly searching for new ideas and in this are would like to share what I learn from others and sometimes even find out on my own!

A big thank you to Dr. Wenzel who sent me an email after my BLC 09 conference presentation. He shared with me two additional tools you may wish to explore.
Excel Goal Seek is a tool with in Excel that allows Excel to give feedback data on constraint you set up for it. I believe this is a tool that could be used by middle school and up. I have included a great video that I found on the Internet that explains this tool. He also informed me of another tool called Excel Solver. Same concept with more detailed and comprehensive feedback. I looked across the internet to find a good explanation so that readers could possibly find a good integration idea. Believe me this was a task! I finall found an outstanding video at You Tube put out by . It uses great visuals, explanation, and even lego pieces to give the explanation. Be sure to check it out and let me know if you find some ways that it could be integrated in both middle and high school.