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 TEACHING 4 FUNCTION MATH WITH A SPREADSHEET WITHOUT A COMPUTER 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 course. 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 below. Turn back the transparent sheet, and with a pencil “type” in the formula you want to solve. Example: 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. DarrinDassault@lycos.com

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