Today in class we looked at the many ways that Excel could enhance our teaching and students learning. Spreadsheets are a fantastic way to easily incorporate technology integration into your classroom. They have uses in several classes such as Social Studies (organizing countries, cities, etc. by their population, density, etc.), Mathematics (probability, statistics, etc.) and Science (experimental data, organizing elements by weight, number of electrons/protons/neutrons, etc.). The opportunities are endless.
The catch 22 is, as always, that the focus on learning can be lost in the technology. How much sense does it make, or better yet where in the Alberta POS, do you find “students will be able to thoughtlessly input data into a computer”? Perhaps in a computer class, but I bet you are hard to find an outcome in math, science or social studies, that states students should be able to successfully mindlessly copy data from one source into an Excel file. Transferring data into Excel is appropriate when it is the student’s own data that they have produced from their own survey, experiment, etc. In this situation, the authenticity of learning is evident through the gathering and use of their own results. Do not waste your own or your student’s time by making them enter numbers into Excel.
We are not teaching our students to be obtuse, we are teaching them to be reflective, contributing members of society.
Instead, to make spreadsheets effective, have students use the vast number of formulas available to them to sort lists from highest to lowest number or alphabetically, find the maximum or minimum in a set of data, determine the number of neutrons from the atomic mass and number (using the formulas in excel), etc. All of these ways have students use the technology in an effective way to increase their learning and are not wasting anyone’s time.
In addition to being a great tool to use in the classroom, Excel offers great perks for teachers! If you can figure out how to use the formulas effectively and efficiently you’ve got yourself a snazzy grade book that will do all the work for you!
Until next time,