EdTech 541 Spreadsheets & Databases


There are many reasons why teachers love and use spreadsheets in the classroom. Roblyer & Doering (2013) list four main reasons why they are so popular and useful:

  • First, spreadsheets save time by automatically calculating information quickly. Programs such as Microsoft Excel can be programmed with any number of calculating functions that can speed up the process of grading for a teacher. Entries can be changed, added to, and deleted quickly.
  • Second, spreadsheets are an excellent way to organize information. While most people tend to think of spreadsheets for numerical data, the columns and rows are ideal tools for all types of charts and graphs that are needed in the classroom. From lesson planning and attendance to classroom management behavior charts, spreadsheets are a simple to tool to use for a variety of situations. Excel’s ability to make charts and graphs seconds makes it a teacher favorite.
  • Third, spreadsheets support asking “what if” questions by helping people visualize the impact of a change in numbers. When values are automatically recalculated, a person can play with the numbers to automatically see the result. This is useful in simple tasks like figuring potential grades for a student or as complex as a mortgage amortization schedule.
  • Fourth, spreadsheets increase motivation to work with mathematics. Teachers like using spreadsheets in teaching math because it helps to make learning more fun. Spreadsheets have a way of making concepts more visible and graphic. Visual representation of data makes it easier to analyze.

Teachers are quickly realizing that students of all ages are capable of understanding the format of a spreadsheet. Students in kindergarten have fun graphing the daily weather or their favorite color while older children can create graphs and charts on the phases of the moon or complex weather patterns. According to Teach-nology.com (n.d.), educators feel it is important to not only introduce the concept of spreadsheets early in a child’s educational experience, but to revisit it often to reinforce the concepts learned as it takes time to develop the skill.

Did you know that Excel can quickly make spreadsheets into web pages? This is a great feature for university students to share projects online with other students and professors or even teachers to share information, calendars or other data online to parents and/or students.

While the common uses include gradebooks and math lessons, there are many other uses for a spreadsheet in any grade level classroom.

Reading Instruction Tracker

While there are many components to this particular plan for struggling readers as found HERE: The Daily Lesson Plan (#8) can be particularly useful especially if tracking individual students progress. This daily plan is a nice way to keep track of information and goals for individual students and can be downloaded HERE. This is a .doc file and can be easily modified to meet the needs of individual students in the class.

Daily Lesson plan snapshot


Progress Monitoring: Cold Read/Hot Read

In elementary reading instruction, fluency practice and progress are important factors to consider. Research has shown that repeated readings of familiar texts increase a student’s oral reading fluency. Graphing “cold and hot” reads are very important for reading fluency. This particular chart can be kept by the student and graphed individually. Student will “cold read” a new passage for one minute then count the number of words read (Dibels or Read Naturally passages). Using a blue crayon, marker, or colored pencil, this number is graphed as the “cold read.” A goal can then be set for the student to achieve. After re-reading the text several times, the student can read the passage again for their “hot read” score. Using a red crayon, marker, or colored pencil, this number is graphed as the “Hot Read.” This form can be downloaded HERE.

cold and hot


Graphic Organizer for Individual or Class Read-Aloud Novels

This graphic organizer can be used for guided reading, class novels, independent, partner, and/or group novels. These worksheets can be used to teach, practice, and assess student understanding of context clues, setting, characters, theme, conflict, point of view, plot, mood, figurative language, symbolism, and the summary. The whole document can be downloaded HERE.

Thinking while reading


Animal Reports Graphic Organizer

For a 3rd grade class animal report, spreadsheets as graphic organizers are invaluable in sorting data in preparation for a final presentation or report. After a day of modeling how to find and record research, students are ready to independently look for information on the animal of their choice. The full document can be downloaded HERE.




What teacher doesn’t need a gradebook? As a professor in a previous course once said, “don’t reinvent the wheel, teachers don’t have time for it.” Thanks to the Internet and the millions of great teachers out there willing to share, finding an easy Excel gradebook took less than 3 minutes of searching. This particular gradebook template features tabs for each subject, student and class averages, number to letter grade conversion, ability to weight tests and quizzes, ability to view all grades for all subject areas on a single page, and the class list automatically updates on each page so there is no need for re-typing. The full Excel spreadsheet template can be downloaded HERE.




According to Miriam-Webster Dictionary, the definition of “database” is a “collection of pieces of information that is organized and used on a computer. It is usually a large collection of data organized especially for rapid search and retrieval (as by a computer).” Databases are very useful for teachers. Databases gather and catalog millions of sources of information to make the job of the researcher quicker and more productive. Long ago patrons of a library had to use a card catalog to find a particular piece of literature in a library. Today, with just a few quick keystrokes, we can find any book in almost any library around the world. In fact, thanks to mass digitization efforts, many of those resources are immediately at our fingertips in a matter of seconds without ever having to leave our desk thanks to databases.

Lesson Plan Framework: Part 2

English Language Arts Standards. Writing. Grade 5


Write opinion pieces on topics or texts, supporting a point of view with reasons and information.


Introduce a topic or text clearly, state an opinion, and create an organizational structure in which ideas are logically grouped to support the writer’s purpose.


Provide logically ordered reasons that are supported by facts and details.


Link opinion and reasons using words, phrases, and clauses (e.g., consequently, specifically).


Provide a concluding statement or section related to the opinion presented.

Student Learning Objectives

As per CCSS for fifth grade writing, students will use the Google sheet to organize and input their reason and opinion on the given topic for their persuasive essay.

Students will use their Google sheet to edit the final copy of their essay as per the checklist.

Lesson Description

Students will be using this Google Sheet to begin organizing thoughts and ideas for a persuasive writing assignment. The topic for this persuasive essay is, “School district officials have debated the “best” start time for elementary schools for years. Assume that district officials have proposed two different start times. The two times would be 8:00 a.m. and 9:15 a.m. This also would adjust the end times for the school day as 3:05 p.m. and 4:10 p.m.” Students will decide which start time they prefer and write an introductory statement with their opinion directly in the Google sheet document and save it to their own Google Drive account. Students will then write 3 reasons with strong examples and a concluding statement on the Google sheet document. Students will then use this document to create the first draft of their persuasive essay. Once the initial draft is typed, students will revisit this Google Sheet and complete the editing checklist entering a “X” for each editing item they have completed. The rubric for this essay will follow the editing guidelines from the Google sheet document. The teacher will be able to view the Google sheet documents for both grading purposes and assistance where needed.

Direct link to Google Spreadsheet Document HERE.

Additional Spreadsheet & Database Resources


Craft, D. (2012). Daily lesson plan for a struggling reader. Dianne Craft – Solutions for dyslexia, dysgraphia, and struggling learners. Retrieved February 19, 2015, from http://www.diannecraft.org/language-arts-reading-program/

Crosby, A. (n.d.). Thinking while reading graphic organizers for any novel. Retrieved February 19, 2015, from https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Thinking-While-Reading-Graphic-Organizers-for-Any-Novel-291950

English Language Arts Standards. Writing. Grade 5. (n.d.). Retrieved February 19, 2015, from http://www.corestandards.org/ELA-Literacy/W/5/

Excel Elementary Gradebook. (n.d.). Retrieved February 19, 2015, from http://www.superteacherworksheets.com/excel-gradebook.html

Excel In the Classroom. (n.d.). Retrieved February 19, 2015, from http://www.teach-nology.com/tutorials/excel/

Literacy, H. (n.d.). TeachersPayTeachers.com. Retrieved February 19, 2015, from https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/FreeDownload/Fluency-Graphs-for-Student-Data-Notebooks

Ms.M’s Blog: Writing on Wednesday: Animal Research Reports. (n.d.). Retrieved February 19, 2015, from http://msk1ell.blogspot.com/2014/04/writing-on-wednesday-animal-research.html

Roblyer, M.D., & Doering, A.H. (2013). Integrating educational technology into teaching. (6th ed.). [Kindle version]. Retrieved from Amazon.com.

©Jenifer Crook 2015


3 thoughts on “EdTech 541 Spreadsheets & Databases

  1. Heather Berlin says:


    You do a great job of explaining the relative advantages of spreadsheets. I really like the examples you included. Specifically I like the hot and cold readings graph. Interventionist are always using my room during my planning and lunch to bring students in to do hot and cold reads for fluency and it may be a motivating factor for the students to chart their own progress.


  2. I have read before that you can create webpages from Excel spreadsheets, but I’ve never tried myself. I really should add that to my to-do list, because that could be a really handy tool. Thanks for the reminder! I like your point that spreadsheets are not just for math. You did a great job illustrating this with your examples and the lesson you created.

    Teachers need to prepare to teach the software before they can expect their students to use it purposefully. You are right in saying that they should start young and revisit it often. Excel, especially, has so many useful tools that students can explore as they get older and develop more math skills. Nice post!


  3. Hi Jen,

    I like your post because you use very positive language. It’s important to show students that learning is fun, regardless of the topic or tools used. My generation is a natural enemy of Excel because we never learned it at school. My experience was to learn it on the go at work, and that was hard because you have a lot of pressure from your employer. Today, if students learn to use these tools from an early age they will learn to see how helpful they are without being intimidated.




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