Spreadsheet Skills in the Classroom

Prepare students for the future by teaching them spreadsheet skills. A spreadsheet is an electronic ledger commonly used by people in the workplace to store information and manipulate it to make informed decisions. The worksheet is divided into alphabetic columns and numeric rows. One of the most popular spreadsheet programs is Microsoft Excel.

Why do you need to teach spreadsheet skills?

spreadsheet skills and technology integration

Teach spreadsheet skills to make connections to the real world applications of mathematics.

Spreadsheet skills allow students to organize, calculate, graph, and analyze data. These skills provide a critical foundation in preparation for future studies and the workplace. Today, many careers require knowledge of how to use a spreadsheet program.

Moreover, integrating the use of spreadsheets into curriculum targets mathematical learning objectives. By having your students organize data into a worksheet and manipulate it, your students acquire essential skills. For example:

  • use computational strategies to calculate data
  • generate graphical representations of data
  • compare sets of data using tables, graphs, and models
  • examine patterns in data using charts and trend lines
  • apply mathematical reasoning to investigate a problem
  • apply problem solving strategies to develop a solution
  • make connections to the real world applications of mathematics

Spreadsheet Skills and Product Ideas

Using spreadsheets helps students make the connection to the real world application of mathematics. Students can learn spreadsheet skills by completing a variety of projects:

  • word search
  • budget
  • timeline

When selecting a product you want students to create using a spreadsheet program it is essential to determine the technology skills that are required. In addition, you must consider the students’ grade level and previous computer experience prior to selecting a task. Spreadsheet skills can be grouped into basic and advanced levels of difficulty.

Basic Spreadsheet Skills:

    • define basic spreadsheet terminology
    • identify a cell reference
    • enter, edit, or delete data into a cell
    • select a cell or a range of cells
    • modify column width and row height
    • format data: font, size, color, and style
    • merge and center data
    • align data within a cell
    • fill a cell with color
    • apply borderlines
    • apply number formats to data
    • alter the number of decimal places
    • calculate the total number using AutoSum
    • sort data alphabetically or numerically
    • graph data
    • format a graph to alter its appearance
    • insert clip art or picture file
    • scale, move, and rotate objects
    • insert and delete columns or rows
    • view a worksheet using the sheet tabs
    • print a workbook or worksheet
    • print preview a worksheet
    • copy formatting from a cell to another
    • cut, copy and paste a selection of cells
Advanced Spreadsheet Skills

  • fill cells with a series using AutoFill
  • calculate data using formulas
  • troubleshoot an error message
  • use absolute cell references
  • use statistical functions
  • format a cell using conditional formatting
  • apply an autoformat to a selection of cells
  • produce a pivot table and chart
  • perform a what-if analysis
  • hide or unhide columns
  • define a name for a cell
  • customize the header or footer
  • filter data
  • produce multi-level sorts
  • add a trend line to a graph
  • change the chart type
  • view a document in page break view
  • insert or delete worksheets
  • rename or color a sheet tab
  • copy a worksheet
  • customize print settings
  • set page breaks and print area

Incorporate spreadsheet skills in the classroom to create essential learning experiences for your students. Prior to beginning a lesson, consider the level of difficulty of the task and the background knowledge of your students. This will help you to select a product that is developmentally appropriate.


About TechnoHella

Hella Comat, Curriculum Writer - Hella Comat is a dedicated professional, who has taught in the education system for more than 30 years. As a pioneer of technology integration in Ontario public schools she was one of the first teachers to introduce the internet, video conferencing, web design, and multimedia learning activities to teachers and students in the Halton Board. To inspire teachers to use technology, she has led sessions for the Touch Technology program, ran workshops at education conferences, and sat on numerous advisory committees related to technology-issues. In recent years she taught the Computer in the Classroom course, at York University. Her lifelong commitment to teaching and learning was acknowledged when she was honored as the recipient of the Prime Minister’s Award for Teaching Excellence in Science, Technology, and Mathematics. Hella's contribution to the blog includes entries about the importance of technology integration. Drawing from her in-depth knowledge of technology in the classroom Hella writes about teaching strategies and useful resources that can benefit your practice. In addition, she provides innovative lesson ideas that you can implement into your own curriculum.