Magazine article MultiMedia Schools

Excel as You've Never Seen It

Magazine article MultiMedia Schools

Excel as You've Never Seen It

Article excerpt

By Kay Lehmann

Professional Development and Online Learning Consultant 1999 Milken National Educator

Spreadsheet software is amazing! Everyday tasks such as keeping track of student information or creating a simple gradebook program are within the grasp of every teacher.

[Editor's Note: The great ideas Kay Lehmann shares in this article require skills that can be yours by taking her online course: "Beginning Excel for eachers: Spreadsheets Are for Everyone."See http://www.uni.edu/profdev/catalog. html#excel for more information.]

"What software program is this?" interrupts Diana's father. Diana swiftly answers, "Excel!"

The father's whole body turns towards me, Diana's 8th grade social studies teacher, as he says, "I use Excel every day at work. I had no idea you could do anything like this with it!"

Leaning down beside his daughter, he asks, "How did you do this?" Diana's explanation is rapid and extensive. As the signal to move to another classroom is given, her father mutters, "I can't believe what they are learning in here! It's amazing!"

It's curriculum night, and another group of students and parents has just exited my classroom.

What led up to that exchange? Diana had guided her dad over to the computers, saying, "Come here, Dad. I want to show you my project. This is my Table of Contents. It leads to all the projects we've done this year in Mrs. Lehmann's class."

When Diana's father first leaned over her shoulder, his face wore a dutiful look. The screen he saw was filled with softened graphic of a fireworks display. Superimposed on the graphic were project titles, in blue, underlined text. As any user of the Internet would know, this signified that they were hyperlinks. Hyperlinks can take you to different Web pages, but in this case, when Diana clicked on any of her project titles, the hyperlink caused the appropriate project file to open.

The Versatility of Spreadsheets Spreadsheet software is amazing! Everyday tasks such as keeping track of student information or creating a simple gradebook program are within the grasp of every teacher. Students can gather data from scientific experiments and then sort it to analyze the resulting patterns. This information can then be turned into colorful graphs for reports or presentations. Rubrics that add themselves up and calculate a percentage score are simple to create. For those with more mathematical ability, intricate formulas can be used to analyze data. There is something for everyone.

I began using spreadsheet software for annual farm budgeting and expenses. At that time, nothing about the software packages seemed easy to use or understand. Upon my return to the classroom, I was selected for the Teacher Leadership Project funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. During our training for this grant program we were shown how to use Excel.

To my surprise and pleasure, spreadsheets had apparently come a long way and had never seemed so inviting or so easy. Excel is a powerful program, but it is not hard to use. As part of the Microsoft Office suite of software, it shares many of the same menus and toolbars as Microsoft Word and Microsoft PowerPoint, which are more common classroom applications. Once you learn how to use a toolbar in one program, you can use it with the other programs. This decreases the learning curve. (What a novel concept these days, right?!)

So what was the project that so intrigued Diana's father? For our annual curriculum night students were instructed to create an interactive table of contents page that would link to projects in their network files. It was their choice whether to use Word, PowerPoint, Excel, or a Web page for the table of contents. Diana's class had used Excel to create interactive maps earlier in the year. When the table of contents assignment was given, Diana turned to the skills learned in the mapping exercise to create the project that wowed her dad. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.