Q&A #8801

Teach elementary math using a spreadsheet without a computer

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From: Darrin Dassault <darrindassault@lycos.com>
To: Teacher2Teacher Service
Date: May 20, 2002 at 18:32:23
Subject: Teach elementary math using a spreadsheet without a computer

From:  DarrinDassault@lycos.com 


Dear Sir or Ms:
This is the information you requested and the same will be sent to all
that reply to my posting.  I will appreciate it if you will be brutal
in your evaluation and email me your comments. I am a big believer
that a good idea can come from anyone at any time...What is yours?

I am a business man, not a teacher.  A decade or so ago I realized I
needed to learn spreadsheet so I had lunch with a friend of mine who
is a programmer.  He told me in about three sentences the concept of
spreadsheets and told me to go home and learn it.  Needless to say,  I
am swimming in spreadsheets.  One of the most fun things was designing
my own calculator,  very simple.

It is obvious that students today will need to know spreadsheets when
they get into the upper grades so why not teach them 4 function math
as their "native language" on a spreadsheet?  The problem is that they
do not have computers in the lower grades and even if they did, 
spreadsheets might be an extra credit course rather than the main

Below is the basic idea and needless to say,  a lot of text needs to
be created to turn it into a useful tool.  That is the job of the
educator.  I am aware of the problem of not being able to recalc but
that can be done by hand……Here it is:  

Print out a blank spreadsheet on an 8-*”  by 11” sheet of pager.  Tape
a transparent sheet on top of it so that you can see the spreadsheet

Turn back the transparent sheet, and with a pencil “type”  in the
formula you want to solve.


In C1 type:    =Sum(A1+B1)

Now fold over the transparent sheet and in A1 type “2” and in B1” type
“2”.  Then with a hand held calculator or doing it in their head,  the
student adds A1 + B1 and puts it C1.  So,  now you have an answer of 4
and by lifting the cover sheet the student can see how it was
obtained…..It is just that simple.

Continued next page:

Think of all of the exercises you can create to teach 4 function math
and the student can design their own sheets.  The teacher will need to
be fluent in spreadsheet in order to appreciate how that works but I
have a lot of confidence in the teaching profession.

I encourage the teacher to use Excel format and copy all of the
dropdowns and give to the students for reference.

This might be considered a radical approach to teaching math but time
marches on.   Again,  I will appreciate any comments any of you have
and I am not interested in any credit for the idea (if in fact it has
any value).

Best wishes and I hope to hear from you.


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