Finding authentic ways to integrate the use of technology is an important focus within the college and using spreadsheets within a Maths lesson makes perfect sense.
[...] the use of spreadsheets would enable students to play a more active role in their own learning process and would encourage creativity and autonomy. Especially when working with underachieving students, the models can be adapted to fit their particular interests.
“K-12 Teachers' Use of a Spreadsheet for Mathematical Modeling and Problem Solving," Sharon Dugdale 1994
Rachel Wright, class teacher, sets the context of the lesson.
‘In Maths Grade 4 has been studying the place value system and looking at the position of digits in a number to determine its value. In the standard system, called base ten, each place represents ten times the value of the place to its right. We started to investigate what happens to numbers when we multiply them by 10, 100, 1000, 10, 000 and even 100, 000.’
The class began with a shared spreadsheet using Google Sheets where students were able to collaborate to create a collection of data. This data came from Top Trumps cards that were given to each student. Rachel gave consideration to which Top Trumps cards to use to ensure that the numbers were appropriate to the needs of the individual students. Each student chose one category on their card e.g. price, diameter, strength, weight and put it into a Google spreadsheet. This enabled the students to organise the data using the filters in the spreadsheet, which helped them to think about what questions to ask each other linked to Place Value. For example, which category is 26 x 1000? By organising the data it was easier to find and think of good questions to test their Maths partner.
The children then added columns and started started to investigate what happens to numbers when they were multiplied by 10, 100, 1000 and 10, 000.
Rachel is planning on asking the students to return to this spreadsheet during their upcoming unit on Multiplication and Division. “Next time we will go a step further with the Google spreadsheet and learn the formula to help multiply and also divide by 10, 100 etc rather than working to out in our heads. This way they can start working with really big numbers.”