Granted Education

Practical, hands-on strategies to engage and excite learners

Troubleshoot Classrooms

Teaching Strategy #40 - Use technology to help drive engagement with spreadsheets!

Posted by anonymous on October 24, 2014 at 6:30 AM

Can you remember the first time that you had a play around with Excel? I can’t really, but I do recall a time when I totally geeked out while playing with the formula functions in it. Well, I have a year 12 Science In Practice (SIP) class who have chosen to do the subject because they are interested in Science, but don’t want to do the hard core work .. . just the fun. As you can imagine, it’s been an interesting ride, trying to get these guys to complete assessment tasks on time and staying on task during the lessons.


In a recent staff meeting, one of my colleagues showed us how to use conditional formatting (where the colour of the cells will change colour depending on the data entered) to help visually track improvements in student performances as they went through the year. Being a very visual learner (sometimes too visual!), I loved the idea and wondered how I could modify it and implement it into my lessons.


This term, my students have been studying stage lighting and sound mixing. Their assessment task was to create a user manual for the performing arts centre. I decided to break up the questions into tasks and set about creating a spreadsheet that was colour coded and also had a progress bar so that students could update their progress, in real-time, during the lesson.


Here's what it looks like ...

The difference in the students was phenomenal! They were focussed, on task and smashing through the tasks before I knew it! I have 2 Yr 12 SIP classes and showed each the other class so they could see how they were going in comparison. Before I knew it, students were racing each other to get the most points in the lesson (without any prompting from me) and to be the one to finish with the most points. Without even realising it, I’d gamified the unit (winning!) and provided them with a very visual method to track their progress. It’s been so successful that the assessment draft is due at the end of next week and it’s looking like the students will have it ready to submit at the start of the week … unheard of!


Another strength of the task was that it had to be authentic. This meant that any video or photo that was used needed to be taken so that the student was in the frame. This made them accountable for the work and less likely to copy from each other.


I seriously can’t believe the success this model has produced and even the lowest level of student is up to speed. Using this method, it’s a safety net to help ensure that every student has SOMETHING to show for their work. Students are teaching each other how to use equipment and helping with taking photos. This task has really brought the class together! When they are updating their progress, other students ask for their questions to be updated too and this gives them a sense of importance.


Do you think you could use this method to help you complete one of your assessment tasks? Could your task be re-jigged and broken into segments to help students track their own progress? It also made it easy to see who needs help and a bit of a chase up – making your job easier – now who doesn’t want that?!


If you would like a copy of my spreadsheet, click here. I would love to send you a blank template with the formulas already entered. All you would have to do is put your class names in and copy the formulas across. I have also included a quick video showing you how to easily copy & paste the formulas and modify the document specifically for your needs, to make it super easy to use straight away. You seriously need to try this out for your class!


So, help your class stay on-task by creating a visually appealing spreadsheet that the students themselves update. That means that you get to spend more time helping students and they get to take responsibility for their own progress, while getting immediate feedback – winning!

Thank you so much for your support and I can't wait to hear from you!




Categories: Technology, Games, Effective Teacher Practices

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