jill's room

...a place to explore the use of technology in education...

20 October 2005

spreadsheets in the classroom

Spreadsheets in the classroom; fun and management!
After reading through the links, I am actually pretty excited about getting the idea from always helpful Rosemary and Harry Wong
[1] to use a student-run spreadsheet for keeping track of missed assignments!
What a great idea!
Provided you have a computer in your classroom (or at least one that is easily accessible), you can use this idea. It is simple, and would effectively reduce the amount of class time wasted when a student comes back after an absence.
The procedure could be as follows. Have a spreadsheet set up that has a worksheet for each month of the year. Have the days numbered down the left hand side rows, and the different subject areas across the top in columns. Just before lunch, and at the end of each day, have a student assigned (rotate them) to enter in the assignments done that class as well as the homework due for the next class. If an assignment was given out with a due date further in the future, simply have the due date put in parentheses behind the assignment.
When a student returns from an absence, they can open up the spreadsheet and find out what they have missed. If the missed work involves extra resources (handouts, books) then the student can write them down and ask the teacher for those resources at the end of the day. Having this sort of system will foster student responsibility for missed work, as well as get the students comfortable working with a spreadsheet.
Spreadsheets can also be used within curricular activities in the classroom. Science is my major, and I would like to describe one of the many, many ways spreadsheet software is valuable for organizing and managing data.
The activity I came up with combines Science and Health, and would be used when introducing the concept of calorimetry (Biology 20, Unit 4, Concept 1: The human organism’s digestive and respiratory systems exchange energy and matter with the environment).

Students will spend one class using an online tutorial to learn how to use Microsoft Excel when managing data sets. The tutorial can be found at:
Starting with dinner that evening, the students will keep a food diary of what they eat and how much of it they eat for the next 24 hours. When they return with their completed food diaries, we will have another lab period where the students will create a spreadsheet and enter what they have eaten by the appropriate major food group (or lack thereof!). Using a calorie counting website, we will then calculate the number of calories that the students are consuming by the food group. There will be a column for the Daily Recommended Value as a comparison. Students can then choose to visually represent their food intake information in any of the charting forms available on the program.
[1] Wong, H. and R. Wong. 2002. Effective Teaching... Effective Practices Apply to All Teachers. Teachers.Net Gazette. Retrieved 20 October 2005 from: http://teachers.net/gazette/OCT02/wong.html


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