Sunday, 15 April 2012

Grade 4 Spreadsheets

Goods and Services and Spreadsheets

Students in Grade 4 experience a crash course in capitalism as they learn all about the ways successful businesses provide goods and services based on an understanding of their market. 
Lines of Inquiry: 
  • The nature of supply and demand 
  • Roles and processes necessary for providing goods and services
  • The elements of a successful business 
Over the course of the unit the students form small business to create products which they then market and sell on two consecutive market days at the end of the unit.


Students work in groups and are given an initial loan by their teacher as an investment in the business, which has to be repaid after market day. If students manage the process effectively they should have a significant profit to show for their labours, to be donated to the G4 GC - Bali Bridges.

In Grade 4 students are expected to further develop the spreadsheets skills they acquired in Grade 3 where they used them for capturing data on water usage in their classes, and graphing it. It is essential that these skills are applied in an authentic context, and this unit provides an ideal context for this, one that allows the students to progress their use of spreadsheets further, ie beyond data entry, and graph creation. In this unit the students model 'real world' practice to create and manage a spreadsheet to track their expenses, income and costs, and ultimately profit/loss by writing their own formulae and using functions to model ‘what if’ scenarios.


Students are able to develop their understanding of Key Concepts for this unit: 
  • Function - What is a spreadsheet?
  • Causation - 'What if' scenarios - how does a change in one amount effect other amounts? 
  • Responsibility - How do we now if we can afford this? How do we need to sell our products for to be able to recoup our costs?


View the labsite lesson here:

The entire lesson (40 minutes)



And here in sections:


Spreadsheet skill review:

Review cell address, and ranges of cells, eg: A1:B6





Functions and Formulae

Review adding the contents of cells, by by using the SUM function and by writing a formula, eg A2+B3.





Critical to the 21st Century classroom model, is ensuring that you as the teacher are NOT a prerequisite for success. Students need to be empowered to resolve their own challenges. The sooner you establish this as 'normal' practice, the easier it will be.

The students should not 'need' you to learn.





This section is purely concerned with the appearance of the spreadsheet. No Maths required, resizing columns and rows, adding text,. and outlines.

Students build a framework within with they can insert relevant data.






Now that the framework is ready, this section guides students through 'telling' the spreadsheet what kind of data will be entered into certain cells.

IMPORTANT: In a spreadsheet you cannot just add a $ sign to indicate currency, symbols like these actually contain 'functionality' in a spreadsheet, so in short, nothing will work.

Instead of you want dollar signs, let the spreadsheet do that FOR you, by telling it to format certain cells as currency.

This feature as other uses as well, for example making certain cells display percentages. You cannot do this by just adding a % sign.






Students enter specific data that need to be totalled using the SUM function.

As more information is entered, the total at the bottom of the sheet should automatically update, this allows students to begin 'modelling' 'What if?' scenarios:

What if we buy 15 of those?

Then students can write a subtraction formula to subtract the $20 that they were initially loaned from their overall total.

Student's that finish early, should be used as 'quality control' ie checking on their peers to make sure that they are finished properly, and that their sheets are working properly.






This section is an 'extension' section.

This means that the spreadsheet will do what they need, but these features will make it even better... IN particular enabling more effective 'modelling'.


  • Inserting additional columns to allow better management of multiple quantities.
  • Refining the use of formulae to add and subtract
  • Creating a 'ripple' effect whereby cells reference other cells
  • Using conditional formatting to change the colour of a cell when the value changes.


Students will need time to 'play' with these interrelated features, in order to get to a point where the logical sequencing of calculations makes sense.

They may also use ways to get it working which are not the same as yours... it may even be better...

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