Using spreadsheets in the classroom is almost natural for a math teacher. We study so many different topics that can incorporate spreadsheet usage. Even though much of what is taught does not have to include technology, interactive spreadsheets can extend and enhance the learning process (Drier, 2001). I am lucky in that the curriculum we use is technology friendly and allows for different forms of technology to be used throughout the middle and high school levels. Using spreadsheets is supplementary within a few different units in our high school lessons.
We have the ability to use spreadsheets when teaching matrices so students have a better understanding of how to read matrices. Being able to read information provided by rows and columns (cells) is needed when multiplying matrices, and reading the data within the different cells.
Spreadsheets are another way to emphasize how formulas work. There are so many different kinds of formulas and students need to understand how to read and use them. We look at algebraic, recursive, regression, and spreadsheet formulas for students to read and follow to create tables, graphs and rules. In fact, I talk about using spreadsheets at home if students do not have access to a graphing calculator since spreadsheets have many of the same features as graphing calculator does, at least on what we use. This is a fun challenge for students who need to extend their learning beyond what is taught in the classroom setting.
Finding the best fit line with a set of data is another skill that is continually used through units in the high school levels. Being able to see real data and the patterns and relationships within the data but isn’t perfectly mathematical can be seen in regression lines. Using spreadsheet graphs and tables help students see how helpful regression lines are in several different mathematical relationships (Green, 2008).
I could go on and on on the many benefits spreadsheets have within the math classroom. Not only does it help within curriculum based lessons but also helps students with real-world scenarios when dealing with money, looking into future situations, and learning how graphs help visual data. Spreadsheets can be very helpful when teaching any level of mathematics.
Here is my link to the Spreadsheet Activities and Lessons.
Drier, H. S. (2001). Teaching and learning mathematics with interactive spreadsheets. School Science and Mathematics, 101(4), 170–179.
Green, J. (2008). Using Spreadsheets to Make Algebra More Accessible. Part 1: Equations and Functions. Australian Mathematics Teacher, 64(4), 7–11.
Hirsch, C. R., Fey, J. T., Hart, E. W., Schoen, H. L., & Watkins, A. E. (2008). Core-Plus Mathematics Course 1 (2nd ed.). McGraw Hill Glencoe.
Hirsch, C. R., Fey, J. T., Hart, E. W., Schoen, H. L., & Watkins, A. E. (2008). Core-Plus Mathematics Course 2 (2nd ed.). McGraw Hill Glencoe.