Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Tech Tip: Illustrating Operations with Excel

Excel is all about formulas and functions. Or is it?

By introducing only one or two spreadsheet skills at a time within a mathematics framework, even little guys and gals can be introduced to spreadsheets as early as first grade.

Spreadsheet Concepts

To begin, demonstrate the following spreadsheet skills.

Terms: cells, columns, rows
Skills: resizing columns, filling cells, applying a border to cells

Resizing columns:
  1. Click the gray square above row 1 to select all the cells in the workbook.
  2. Place your cursor over the line between columns A and B.
  3. When it changes to a double-arrow, click and drag to resize the cells until they look like squares.

Filling cells:
  1. Click and drag to select one or more cells.
  2. Click the Fill Color bucket.
  3. Click a color to fill the cells you selected with that color.

Applying a border to cells:
  1. Click the Border button.
  2. Select the All Borders choice.

Math Applications

For the following activities, students prepare their spreadsheet by resizing the columns so that the cells look like squares. Then they fill squares with colors to illustrate a specific operation. Images of what the finished product might look like are below.

Illustrated Addition

Illustrated Subtraction

 Illustrated Multiplication

Illustrated Fractions

 Simple. Fun. Relevant. Visual.

And each activity can easily be finished during one computer lab session or station rotation within the classroom. 

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