Spreadsheets as Tools for Learning 
How can spreadsheets be used in elementary and middle grades grades
mathematics classes? Students can use this tool to organize and analyze
data, to create representations, to develop deeper understanding of mathematics,
and to “uncover” powerful mathematical ideas. 
Why use spreadsheets in problem solving? 
 Mindtools, à la David Jonassen,
 are critical thinking tools that engage and facilitate cognitive
processing.
 are constructive.
 amplify and reorganize mental functioning.
 require learners to think more deeply than they would have to
without the tool.
 make more effective use of the mental efforts of the learner;
offloading calculation tasks allows learner to apply more effort
to understanding.
 Spreadsheets support problem solving by enabling students to
 identify and describe relationships and patterns — facilitated
by organization of data.
 answer questions and make decisions.
 test hypotheses: “what if?”
 double check through alternate calculation.
 explore extensions of the problem.
 Spreadsheets enhance mathematical comprehension by supporting numerical
thinking.
 Spreadsheets facilitate generalization which prepares them for algebra.
 Spreadsheets allow students to integrate graphics with computation.

Considerations:
 Teach spreadsheet as alternate method after solving small scale
problem with paper and pencil.
 Begin with words.
 Begin with a teachercreated template.
 Reinforce labeling of data, formatting number, including rounding
issues.
 Not a replacement for understanding.
 Importance of estimation and determining reasonableness of answer.
 Effective use of technology will influence what math is taught.

Mathematical concepts supported by spreadsheet:
 formula generation
 connections
 symmetry
 discrete vs continuous
 graphs
 geometric relationships among dimension, area, perimeter, volume
 rate of growth

References
