As a math teacher, the use of spreadsheet software in the classroom is especially beneficial and relatively easy to incorporate. Spreadsheets offer users the opportunity to organize and analyze numerical data. Collecting data and performing computations on said data can be a rather tedious task without the use of technology; spreadsheet software saves both teacher and student time when working with numbers and calculations. Spreadsheets are easy to use, flexible, and readily available to students and teachers. Since most students are familiar with such programs as Microsoft Excel, its implementation in the classroom is rather intuitive.
There are countless examples of how spreadsheets can be used in a mathematics class. Students can learn how to budget money, record data and find a variety of statistic information on the data, or display charts and graphs representing numerical data visually. Furthermore, “spreadsheets can be set up to numerically solve complex systems of equations, find trends in data, or discover the optimum solution to a problem” (Cahill, 2012). The possibilities are endless when it comes to being able to integrate spreadsheet software in a math class.
Even more impressive than the uses of this software are the advantages in using this technology in the classroom. According to Cahill (2012), teachers use spreadsheets in the classroom because it can increase depth and breadth of knowledge, improve critical skills and improve quantitative literacy. These skills and experience will then prepare students for using the software later in their careers and help establish important life skills necessary to succeed. Another advantage for using this software is the fact that it can increase motivation and involvement from students (Roblyer & Doering, 2013). Working with numbers is not appealing to every student but the interactive nature of this technology tool can help engage learners. “Constructing and using spreadsheet models forces students to ‘get their hands dirty.’ That is, when students directly interact with a model or data, they may be able to understand it better than they would by taking in a lecture or reading a text” (Cahill, 2012). Finally, using spreadsheet software can appeal to a variety of learning styles, in particular this tool can be useful to a visual learner. Charts and graphs constructed in a program like Excel help students visualize numerical data. “A worksheet can make a picture out of abstract concepts and provide a graphic illustration of what the teacher is trying to communicate” (Roblyer & Doering, 2013).
As with any technological tool, the relative advantages of its use depend on the manner in which it is implemented into the classroom. A teacher can use spreadsheets to enhance learning and engage learners, but it cannot replace the need for instruction. Spreadsheets should support the learning process by engaging students to discover new topics independently, reinforcing concepts taught in class or promoting higher level thinking skills.
Here is my link for an instructional activity in a Trigonometry class: http://mrs826.weebly.com/spreadsheet-lesson.html
Cahill, M. (2012). Teaching with Spreadsheets. Retrieved on March 1, 2014 from http://serc.carleton.edu/sp/library/spreadsheets/index.html
Doering, A & Roblyer, M. (2013). Integrating Educational Technology into Teaching (6th Ed). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson.