As a working technology teacher, I get hundreds of questions from parents about their home computers, how to do stuff, how to solve problems. Each Tuesday, I’ll share one of those with you. They’re always brief and always focused. Enjoy!
Q: What’s the easiest way to introduce 3rd graders to Excel charts?
A: When students have gone through the spreadsheet basics and feel like that scary interface (with the blank boxes and letters and numbers) isn’t so scary, you’re ready to create a chart. Collect class data. Highlight the labels and data and push F11.
Tessellations are repetitive patterns of shapes that cover a surface without overlapping. With Excel (or another spreadsheet program), you can create tessellations by arranging shapes in a grid and using formulas and formatting options to make the patterns visually appealing. Here’s a step-by-step lesson plan to use Excel or another spreadsheet program to teach tessellations:
Excel makes graphs simple and easy for beginners. Even my parent helpers are amazed at how much students can do with a simple F11 shortkey and a right click. This lesson plan works just as well with Google Sheets though you may have to adapt a few of the instructions.
If the lesson plans are blurry, click on them for a full size alternative. (more…)
This is one of the most popular lessons I teach to Excel beginners. It is relevant, instantly usable and makes sense from the beginning. Click the images below to enlarge them for viewing.[gallery columns="2" ids="45219,45218"]
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Jacqui Murray has been teaching K-18 technology for 30 years. She is the editor/author of over a hundred tech ed resources including a K-12 technology curriculum, K-8 keyboard curriculum, K-8 Digital Citizenship curriculum. She is an adjunct professor in tech ed, Master Teacher, webmaster for four blogs, an Amazon Vine Voice, CSTA presentation reviewer, freelance journalist on tech ed topics, and author of the tech thrillers, To Hunt a Sub and Twenty-four Days. You can find her resources at Structured Learning.
This project (#70 in the collection of #110) hides a spreadsheet’s power behind a template you create and students fill out at home. If they’re older and more familiar with spreadsheets, involve them in creating the template. If the lesson plans are blurry, click on them for a full size alternative.
Note: The example uses Excel, but it works just as well with Google Spreadsheets.
In these 169 tech-centric situations, you get an overview of pedagogy—the tech topics most important to your teaching—as well as practical strategies to address most classroom tech situations, how to scaffold these to learning, and where they provide the subtext to daily tech-infused education.
Today’s tip: How to Create a Chart Really Fast
Category: MS Office, Google Apps
A: When students have completed spreadsheet basics, they’re ready to create a chart:
- Collect class data on a spreadsheet.
- Divide into categories.
In Excel: Highlight the labels, categories, and data; push F11. That’s it–a simple chart.
In Google Spreadsheets: Use the icon on the toolbar.
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What’s your favorite tech tip in your classroom? Share it in the comments below.
Education has changed. No one knows yet if it’s for better or worse but we all understand that nothing’s as it once was. That means many traditional teaching tools are no longer the best choice for the new norms. Over the past few months (well, since March), I’ve spent a lot of time reinventing my teaching protocols, doing a rigorous evaluation of whether my standard practices are best suited for the new best practices for teaching at home and school (click here for lots of info on COVID-19 and education). Because often, I’m not physically with students to help with tech problems or down the hall from the school’s tech guru if I have problems, I now heavily select for digital tools that are quick to setup, intuitive to use, and straightforward to understand as well as engaging, flexible, and scalable with dynamic traits that can be re-engineered for a diversity of situations.
I’ve found one you’ll want to know about. It’s called JotForm Tables.
You may be familiar with JotForms. It is a popular forms builder that uses customizable templates and a drag-and-drop interface to collect and curate data. It works on all platforms and can be shared via a link or embed. For more, read my review here. Over the past several years, JotForms has released a variety of features that have helped educators be more effective. These include Smart PDF Forms, a PDF Editor, JotForm Cards, and JotForm Reports (click for my reviews).
The free JotForm Tables addresses the ongoing need teachers and schools have for easy-to-understand, easy-to-customize data to help with decision-making. In place of the conventional intimidating table you get from standard spreadsheet programs, JotForm Tables offers an attractive layout, loads of customization options, inclusion of all kinds of data (like files, calendars, check boxes, yes-no answers, and ratings)–all of it quickly modified to your needs and sharable via an Excel file, a CSV, a PDF, or a link.
Here’s what one of my class tables looks like:
Nothing turns data into information like a spreadsheet. We as teachers understand that, which is why spreadsheets are a fundamental tool to critically analyze any data that includes numbers. There are many options (Numbers, Excel, and Open Office to name just a few), but arguably the most popular is Google Sheets. If you’re using Google Classroom or G Suite, you already have it. That means there’s no separate log-in required, no unique password for students to forget, and no special install required to push it out to students. It’s right there, as part of the education package.
Most spreadsheet programs have similar options, so what characteristics make Google Sheets stand out? Read on.
The most common positives mentioned by users are:
- You can collaborate with friends and colleagues.
- You can share the spreadsheet as an embed, either with viewing privileges or editing ones.
- It can be synced across all devices, whether at home or school.
- It works on all digital devices whether it’s a Mac, Windows, Chromebook, or iPad.
- It provides a revision history, allowing you to scroll back to a better version of your work and/or track the contributions of collaborators.
- It includes a chat window where collaborators can discuss their work before changing the spreadsheet.
- Because Sheets is part of Google, it easily imports data from other Google Apps. It also exports nicely to the increasingly broad group of partners who work with Google Apps.
One more that I list as a Pro, but could be a Con: Sheets is easier to learn (that’s the Pro). The reason is there’s less to learn (that’s the Con). It focuses on the most popular functions, not the depth of need. If you’re a lite user of spreadsheets, this will serve you well, but if you are moderate to advanced, you may struggle to find the tool you were used to in Excel — if you can find it at all. For example, pivot tables are strictly an Excel tool.
- #79: Excel Turns Data Into Information
- #74: Mastering Excel (for Beginners)
- #73: How to Graph in Excel
- 71: Beginning Graphs in MS Excel
- Tech Tip #62: Email from Word (Or PowerPoint or Excel)
- How to Use Excel to Teach Math Arrays
- #12: Create Simple Shapes in Excel
- #75: Tessellations in Excel
- #72: How to Check Your Math in Excel
- #70: Create a Timecard in Excel for Grade Two and Up