Use Spreadsheets to Teach Mathematics and Meet Standards

NECC Chicago June 2001

Presented by Pamela Lewis

Computer Coordinator at St. Luke School, Brookfield WI

email: pamlewis@execpc.com

Use the power of spreadsheets to teach Mathematics. Spreadsheets are a powerful learning tool for primary, elementary and middle school students.

Spreadsheet assignments offer concrete ways to explore abstract concepts in mathematics and other subjects. Mathematical ideas are conveyed in several different ways--using pictures, colored squares, and number lines. Counting on a number line or a number chart, or using pictures to count in a pictograph helps make the process of counting with numbers more meaningful.

A spreadsheet is a helpful tool for visual learners. Students use color and pattern to shade areas of the grid to visualize addition and subtraction. The use of borders and colors helps to organize and highlight data in unique ways. The formatting of font, size, color and pattern fill of cells and borders helps focus student attention on key elements of an assignment. A spreadsheet helps convey the meaning of Decimal numbers as students arrange them in ascending order on a number line.

Using spreadsheets promotes higher order thinking skills. Several assignments use formulas, which are then generalized, so that students can see how the outcome is changed when one of the variables in the formula is altered. The spreadsheet tool promotes the development of problem solving skills and supports "What if..." type questions. Some templates have formulas inserted so that students focus on problem solving, while the computer makes the calculations for them. Students use ready-made formulas or they make up their own formulas to manipulate numbers. They explore how and why formulas are used, and how changing a variable affects the outcome. Students test how they can generalize formulas, using the Fill down and Fill Right functions. Students feel the power of spreadsheets as they fill numbers into the cells in a spreadsheet with the click of a mouse. They use formulas to generalize a rule, to make conversions, to calculate budget totals and to calculate ratios.

Students make charts and graphs from spreadsheet records, learning to organize their ideas and present information to an audience. Charts add meaning to information, helping students to analyze and interpret data, as they identify the maximum and minimum, mean, median and mode of a data set.. The computer can generate bar graphs, line graphs and pie charts. Pie charts reinforce the idea of percentages as these are represented visually, and help students compare ratios. Students make their own Bar Graphs by filling cells with color, and Clip Art is used to make Pictographs.

Students love to play on computer and are motivated to complete tasks in a Risk Free Environment, where errors can be easily corrected or edited. Color and pattern are strong motivators and students love to change font and size, add borders, and add Clip Art to their work. Students take pride in the pleasing presentation of their work: lines are straight, writing is clear, pictures are perfect for all students, not only the very best.

Using templates where print range, margins, row and column height, and borders have been formatted can improve presentation and speed up the completion of the task. Children as young as kindergartners can use the spreadsheet tool very successfully, as Templates allow them to learn to use the Spreadsheet tool without knowledge of all the Spreadsheet skills.

This book offers classroom-tested lessons for using spreadsheets to teach subjects across the curriculum. It includes instructions for over 50 assignments (Kindergarten through Eighth grade) that address National Standards in Technology and Mathematics, and other subjects including Language Arts, Science, Social Studies and Foreign Language. See a list of many of the assignments below. Detailed instructions are given for each assignment. A summarized form of these instructions is often included on the Template for each lesson, which is on the accompanying CD-ROM. The book includes Extension Activities and samples of completed assignments.

As students complete the assignments in this book, they gradually master the following computer skills:

• Moving through spreadsheet (arrows, tab, enter, home, end)
• Duplicating graphics and placing them in cells
• Entering and formatting text and numbers in cells
• Adding Clip Art, resizing and moving pictures
• Filling cells with color / pattern
• Creating graphs / charts – computer-generated or making their own.
• Formatting borders
• Sorting data in alphabetical and numerical order
• Using the Thesaurus and Spell Check
• Making up their own formulas
• Generalizing formulas by filling right or down
• Setting display options – Showing or hiding borders, the grid, column and row headings
• Setting print options

List of Spreadsheet Assignments demonstrated and Math Standards met by these assignments:

Use AppleWorks, Excel, or Microsoft Works for these assignments

 Spreadsheet Assignment National Mathematics Standards addressed Grade Level Letters Bingo 3 K5 Count to 10 1 K5 Count to 100 1,2 1 Count by 2s, 3s, 5s 1,2 1 Count Large Numbers 1,2 1 March Weather Watch Calendar 1,4,5,10 1 Pictograph of March weather 1,3,5,10 1 Bar Graph of March weather 1,3,5,10 1 Addition Facts 1,2,3 2 Math Problems 1,3,6 2 Math Problems 2 1,3,6 2 Money to Spend 1,6,9 2 Find the Rule 1,2 2 December Calendar 1,4 2 Change for a bill 1,6 2 Secret Message: Pledge of Allegiance 3 3 Plot the points on a grid 3 3 Multiplication Table 1,2 3 Perimeter and Area of Rectangles 3,4 3 Arrays of numbers 1,2,3 3 Money to Spend 2 1,6,9 3 Count the Colored Candies 3,5,9,10 3 Chart random numbers 1,5,9,10 4 Magic Square 1,2 4 Class Survey 5,6,9,10 4 My Measurements 1,4,5 4 Converters 1,2,4 4 Equivalent Fractions 1,3 4 Colored Fractions 1,3 4 Fractions: Greater than or less than? 1,3 4 Decimal Numbers 1,3 5 Negative numbers 1,3 5 Use formulas to count to 100 1,2 5 Count the cells in the Spreadsheet 1,2 5 Prime Numbers 1,3 5 US Weather Chart 3,10 5 Colored Candies: Ratio, Percentage, Estimation 5,6,9,10 6 Calculator 1,2,6 7 Time Line 4,10 6 Currency Converter 2 7 Travel Budget 6 8 French and Spanish Verbs 2 8 My Grades this Quarter 1,2,6 8

Samples of some completed assignments:

AppleWorks Instructions for two assignments (without using templates):

1. Instructions for "Count to 100"

Spreadsheet skills learned in this assignment:

• To format Column Width, Borders
• To set Print Range
• To move around the spreadsheet
• To enter data
• To make Tools visible
• To fill a cell with color or pattern

Open a new ClarisWorks document.

Click on the File menu and click on Save As.

Save the document as Count to 100.

Type your name in cell A2.

Type Count to 100 in cell A3.

Highlight from cells A5 to J14. To do this, click in cell A5, hold down the mouse, and drag to J14.

Click on the Format menu. Click on Column Width and type in 40.

Click on the Format menu. Click on Borders and check all boxes.

Highlight from cells A1 to J14. Click on the Options menu and click on Set Print Range and click on OK.

Click on the Window menu and click on Page View to see what will print. (There is no print preview in AppleWorks).

To move around the spreadsheet, use your tab key, arrow keys, Home and End keys, Control Home and Control End.

Click on the Window menu. Click on Show Tools for the tools to appear on the left side of the screen as below.

To insert text:

Enter the numbers 1 through 100 as in the sample below. When you click on a cell, type in the appropriate number. You will notice it goes into the insertion bar as you type. It only goes into the cell when you press Enter/Return or Tab.

You can now color the multiples of 2 in red.

To fill a cell or cells with color:

Select the cell you want to change by clicking on it, or select the row or column of cells by highlighting it.

Click on the fill color control and select the color you want.

Next, click on each cell containing a multiple of 3 and change the fill pattern in that cell.

To change fill pattern in a cell or cells:

Select the cell you want to change by clicking on it, or select the row or column of cells by highlighting it.

Click on the fill pattern control and select the pattern you want.

To underline the multiples of 5, click on a cell where you want to underline the data, and click on the U button in the button bar.

You can format font by using other buttons in the button bar, like B for bold, change font and size.

2. Instructions for Multiplication Table

Spreadsheet skills learned in this assignment:

• To enter a formula
• To generalize a formula using Fill Down
• To view formulas or view data

Open a new Apple Works Document. Save the file with the name Multiplication Table.

Highlight cells A1 through K11.

Click on the Format menu. Click on Column Width and type in 32.

Click on the Format menu, click on Borders and check all boxes.

To enter 1 to 10 across row 1 and down column A:

Enter * (the key for multiply on computer) in cell A1, 1 in cell B1, 2 in cell C1 and continue counting to 10 across row 1. You will finish in column K.

Enter the numbers 1 through 10 in cells A2 through A11.

To enter your 1x table, click on cell B2, then enter this formula into the cell:

=A2*1

Highlight cells B2 to B11 and click on the Edit menu and click on Fill Down.

To enter your 2x table, click on C2 enter this formula: =A2*2

Type in the correct formula for all of row 2. .(=A2*3, =A2*4, =A2*5 etcetera…)

Highlight B2 through K11, click on the Edit menu and click on Fill, and on Down to fill each column.

To view formulas or data (numbers):

Click on the Options menu and click on Formulas: This will place a check mark next to the word and will show formulas.

Click on the word Formulas again to remove the check mark, this will show data.

Save.

Print the file with numbers showing and with formulas showing.