How Teachers Are Using Microsoft Excel To Enhance Learning in the Classroom
Wed 25th February 2009
Excel As A Grade BookCalculating student grades is a basic activity in many Excel XP training courses, even ones without teachers attending. A grade book is an easy way to demonstrate averages, medians and other analytical formulas. However a teacher can do more than just average a student's grade.
Grades can be placed into categories that are weighted differently, for example having homework affect the final grade less than exams. Even individual grades can be weighted like this so a short homework counts for less than a long one.
A teacher can quickly spot trends as a student's grade changes over the term, singling out struggling students for extra help. Class averages help a teacher evaluate whether the coursework is too easy or difficult.
Excel For LessonsTechniques teachers learn in Excel XP training can be used to create worksheets the students can use on the computer. These can be for individual or group projects, giving them an easy form to enter and analyse data.
For example, a class project might track temperature and barometric pressure over several days to see how it relates to weather patterns. A reading workbook could be created with a separate sheet for each student allowing them to track their progress on the reading assignments throughout the term. The data could be plotted on a bar graph so that students can easily see their progress.
A nutrition lesson can have a sheet where students could enter what they eat each day. The sheet can pull information on nutrition, calories, fat content and so on, from a database on another page to let students see how different food choices affect the totals.
Excel As A Non-Mathematical ToolAlthough Excel XP training focuses mostly on the mathematical aspects of the spreadsheet application, many teachers have found creative ways to use the software that have nothing to do with numbers.
Rather than the same old chemistry quiz, try creating an Excel crossword puzzle. The clues would all be chemistry questions and the grid could automatically check student answers as they enter them. Students have fun and learn at the same time.
The grid format is ideal for creating historical timelines that are easier to visualize than lists of dates. These can be printed out for student reference or turned into a game where students drag events into the timeline presented, sorting them in order.
Excel is a tool with a broad range of uses that go beyond simply calculating averages. Teachers who take a creative approach to a spreadsheet discover new ways to use Excel to enrich their lessons.
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