 This activity introduces students to spreadsheets over the course of two or three lessons. The first lesson helps students learn the parts of a spreadsheet and how to read a spreadsheet table. The second lesson directs students to make changes to their spreadsheet. Through this activity, they will see one of the most powerful aspects of spreadsheets: the use of formulas.

You may want to use pictures of spreadsheet windows from our spreadsheet manual as part of your classroom lesson. This may mean making an overhead transparency of a picture from the manual that shows screen display (e.g., the menu options, the icon bars, the formula bar). Going over this information in class will help students before they use the spreadsheet in the lab. Lesson 1

Lesson 2

Classroom Discussion and Activities

 Teacher Note: Depending on your lab arrangements, this section may be done either in the classroom or in the computer lab.

• Point out to students the following parts of the spreadsheet:

Toolbars

Column and row labels

Formula Bar

Sheet tabs

Work Space

Cells

Active cell

Mouse pointer

• Each square of a spreadsheet is called a cell. It has a unique name, or "cell reference," made up of its column and row headings. For example, the first cell in a spreadsheet is A1. The "A" stands for the column and the "1" stands for the row. Cells can contains three types of information:

numbers

text (words)

formulas-formulas always begin with an equal sign. They tell the computer to do a math problem.

In the Lab (Individual or Paired Work)

• Opening a sample file: income.xls.

Follow your lab's directions for starting Excel and opening income.xls. Have students answer questions about cells and data. Use the first two worksheets for this exercise. They can be found in income.doc and are called Parts of a Spreadsheet and Reading a Spreadsheet.

If you want to extend this lesson, have the students play the treasure hunt game, an introductory activity for spreadsheets. See treasure.doc.

Lesson 2 - Making Changes to a Spreadsheet

Classroom Discussion and Activities (Whole Group)

• Draw comparison between calculator and spreadsheet

Discuss with students the fact that when they use a calculator the numbers "disappear" with each new entry and are therefore difficult to check for accuracy. With a spreadsheet you can review your typing and see if your work is accurate.

With a calculator, changing a number means retyping the entire problem. With a spreadsheet, when one cell is changed, the computer does the recalculations.

• Review cells and cell references.

The place where a row and column cross is a cell. Cells look like boxes. Each cell has a name. Cell A10 is in the place where Column A and Row 10 cross. It contains the abbreviation JUL for July.

Cells can contain:

Numbers - 25, 8, 0
Formulas - = B3+B4+B5

Formulas tell the computer to do math operations with certain numbers. Move your cursor to cell B16. The status line reads: =sum(B4:B15), but you see the number \$210 on your screen. A formula always starts with an = . Whenever you see the equal sign (=), the computer computes an answer for you. \$210 is the answer to the formula =sum(B4:B15), because this formula asks the computer to add up all of the numbers from cell B4 to cell B15. You will learn how to write formulas in the computer during a later lesson. For now it is only important that you identify when a cell contains a formula rather than a number or word.
 Teacher Note: You may want to make a transparency of the student worksheet, go over the spreadsheet in class, and keep it up on the overhead during this lab.

In the Lab (Individual or Paired Work)

• Open income.xls.

• Use the third worksheet in income.doc to have students make changes on the spreadsheet. This worksheet is called Changing a Spreadsheet. Make sure the students record their answers on the spreadsheet.