me-now

This is me-now, Josh Krikke on Blogger. I hope you enjoy my reflections.

Friday, October 21, 2005

Using Spreadsheets in Education

In any classroom, a good teacher wants students to think critically and analyze information and I believe spreadsheets are just the tool to help students with this process. Spreadsheets are effective for helping students to analyze data and to present this to an audience in a clear and organized manner. Spreadsheets are also a way for students to use data as a vehicle to formulate answers to questions and hypotheses. For example, imagine the possibilities when using spreadsheets in a Grade 4 unit project on: Waste and Our World. Students could collect and analyze data on the different types of garbage the school generates on a given day, either biodegradable, reusable, or toxic wastes. Spreadsheets could be made based on the collected data. Then, students could formulate graphs demonstrating averages to prove which type of garbage is most generated at school. Finally, students could think of practical ways to implement reducing, reusing and recycling to reduce the amount of garbage their school produces. This is an example of using spreadsheet technology as a tool for analyzing data that results in a hands-on activity to reduce school waste. Now that’s authentic learning!

In order to implement a unit project like this in the classroom, I think an online tutorial on spreadsheets would be an effective teaching tool. I would use http://www.sabine.k12.la.us/training/Excel%202000.htm This site contains about 125 interactive Web "mini movies" that are perfect for teaching yourself or others how to create a spreadsheet. Following the “mini movies” I would walk students through a spreadsheet activity of our own relating to data we had collected on types of waste. Hopefully, this would be enough training for students to get started on making their own spreadsheets and then I could monitor the groups and help them individually. I definitely want to try using spreadsheets when I enter the classroom and I think students will love using computer software to make graphs.