Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Fractions and Spreadsheets and More

Addition, Fractions, Numerator  Have you ever wondered how to use spreadsheets to teach fractions?  I haven't but I've been thinking about it for a while because most of my lower performing math students have no visualization of fractions.  The can perform the mechanical mathematical processes but if asked to draw or illustrate the problems, they can't do it.

I've had students draw pictures but the pictures are not always carefully drawn so the fractions are not even.  So I did some research on fractions and found a site called What if Spread Sheet Math.

They have a page of download able spreadsheets dealing with fractions, decimals, and common denominators.  The fraction spread sheet uses histograms to compare fractions using Excel.  It allows students to input fractions, guess which one is larger and which one is smaller before checking the answer.  The second downloadable spreadsheet is designed to help students learn decimal place value which is another topic many of my students have trouble with.  The third sheet helps students find common denominators using a spreadsheet.

I looked through the site and found much much more that could be used in a math classroom in different ways.  Under Arithmatic, there are activities that show the distributive property, factoring (which is used in factoring polynomials etc), area, shapes, square numbers, ratio tables that introduce slope, decimals and percents, multiplying integers, decimal division, etc.

Under Algebra they have growth spreadsheets, linear functions, solving equations, quadratic functions, power functions, polynomial functions, sine functions, the inverse of of a function, composition of functions, systems of functions, Interest, projectile motion and more.

Geometry has spreadsheets on building a house, shapes, parenthesis and pi, triangles, etc.  In addition, there is a section on financial reasoning and probability and statistics.  I was amazed at the number of spreadsheet activities contained in this website. 

I love the wide choice of activities that i can pick and choose to integrate into my classroom.  The beautiful thing is they even include an introduction to spreadsheet section to ease students into using spreadsheets in a way that is different than in a computer class.  This provides a cross curricular connection and reinforces their learning.

Check it out and see if there is something you can use in class.