A spreadsheet is a grid composed of an indefinite number of rows and
columns that cross to make cells where information is entered. Spreadsheet
programs can be used to make calculations, organize data, make charts,
and much more. Click
here to see a diagram of a spreadsheet.

Spreadsheets
in the Mathematics Classroom

Of all the tools discussed on this
site, spreadsheets probably have the most uses in the mathematics classroom.
The most common use of this tool is to organize data and create charts
and graphs, but the list of other uses is quite long. However, it is
up to the user to discover what these uses are. This makes the spreadsheet
the ultimate tool for discovery, practice, and an excellent form of
assessment.

Learning the basics of spreadsheets
is a simple task. This means that their use is appropriate for many
grade levels. At the most basic level, the user simply enters data into
cells. That data can then be used to create a chart or graph, of which
there are many choices. But the real power of spreadsheets comes from
using functions. After data is entered into cells, students can then
begin to write functions that will calculate the sum, mean, product,
or anything else you can think up for a column or row of numbers. Imagine
the possibilities!!

Creating
Charts and Graphs with Spreadsheets

One of the most common
(and easiest to learn) uses for spreadsheets in the classroom is for
entering data and then creating a chart or graph from the data. Bar
graphs, line graphs, scatter plots, and more are possible with spreadsheets.
Imagine graphing linear and nonlinear patterns and asking students to
describe the difference.

A formula
can also be written to make measurement conversions. Changing feet to
yards is an example.

=A15*3

Obviously converting feet
to yards is far from the only conversion. You could also go from feet
to yards by simply writing a formula that divides the number in the
cell by 3.

Finding
Percents with Spreadsheets

The example below illustrates
yet another use for spreadsheets in the classroom.

=D15*E15 & =D15-F15

In order to make a table
similar to the one above, it is necessary to write two formulas. One
formula calculates the amount of the discount, and the other calculates
the final price after the discount has been subtracted.

Finding
Areas with Spreadsheets

This is
a particularly powerful use of spreadsheets in the classroom. Finding
the area any shape requires using a formula. Because it is simple to
set up a spreadsheet with missing lengths, widths, or areas in certain
cells require that students write a formula to find these missing parts.
See the example:

The formula for finding
the area of the triangle would be =(I23*J23)/2. However,
in the second row, we see that the height of the triangle is missing.
Students must write a formula in the cell with the question marks to
get the correct answer. Notice the amount of thinking that must go into
this in order to get the correct answer!

Spreadsheets in Education - [http://sunsite.univie.ac.at/Spreadsite/]
- This site lists references and links to information about spreadsheets
with an emphasis on science and math. Real high level stuff here.

Spreadsheet Basics
- [http://mathforum.org/sum95/math_and/spreadsheets/basics.html]
- This site from the Math Forum explains the basics of spreadsheets
and gives specific examples of actual problems to use in class. Just
click on GRAPHS and then MORE EXAMPLES to find them. They make for great
practice!

Quick-XL is an Excel add-in for entering data into
Excel spreadsheets. It is designed to provide a highly ergonomic way
to get data entered as quickly as possible. Quick-XL works in businesses
of all sizes. Best news, the cost is under $10/yr.