## Friday, April 29, 2016

### Are Spreadsheets in Math Really Effective

As a math teacher, I wondered if there was a "correct" way to use spreadsheets that deepens understanding rather than being just a time filler.  Since most places have adapted the Common Core, teachers are required to improve the student's depth of understanding.  As you know, I've found all sorts of spreadsheet activities but what is the best way to use them.  So today I'm exploring the best ways to do use spreadsheets.
According to an article in Education World, spreadsheets can be effectively used but it depends on how, when, and why they are used.

There is an idea that a blank speadsheet is like the student of a student .  In other words, the student has to enter the correct information into the spreadsheet so the spreadsheet "learns" to do the math.  The formula's have to be right for the spreadsheet to produce the correct answers.

The article indicates that spreadsheets are a good way to:
1. Extend patterns.
2. Explore algebra through formulas and functions in a variety of ways.  Check the article out for the details.

Just know that spreadsheets can be used to improve understanding and communicate mathematically.  Spreadsheets allow us to speak math with formulas and functions.  We can extend generalizations, and we can develop meaningful real life uses.  The two pieces of advice they give are stay focused on math and keep it simple.

According to an article in ERIC digest, spreadsheets are the ideal vehicle to connect arithmetic with algebra and allows a person to move back and forth quickly.  Spreadsheets help students develop an understanding of mathematical concepts, seeing relationships among different types of representations, and discover how a change in one place effects the other parts.  It also allows them to develop mathematical reasoning because they are freed from worrying about calculations and algebraic manipulation.