Welcome to Spreadsheet Day 2011 on Excel for Educators. Personally, I think every day should be Spreadsheet Day. But then, I was also disappointed when I couldn't change my Facebook status to show that I am in a relationship with Excel.
The theme of this year's Spreadsheet Day is to help students. I have been traveling for work the past two weeks, and so my preparations for this day have not been made. I will, however, have a post later this week which finishes fleshing out the standards-based gradebook for teachers.
What I would like to share today, however, is a word of encouragement. You see, Excel and I were not always BFFs. In fact, I used to be afraid of even clicking on its weird-looking green alien icon. And then I found myself teaching a class where we were going to help chemistry students do a regression. I had to man up, as it were, and dive into the world of spreadsheets. And I've happily been there ever since.
I wish I had known all of the things I could have done with Excel to help me as a teacher. Not only for tracking student scores, but for all types of record-keeping: attendance, calls to parents, student behavior notes, observations, tracking time for lessons. I could have used the graphs to look more closely at student grades and reflect on what was happening. And, I could have helped students do more with Excel. I was a science teacher, for crying out loud. We could have integrated spreadsheets with so many labs.
So, my advice for today is simply to go forth and double-click. Open Excel and play around. Think about the ways it could automate some of the tasks for your classroom and change your workflow. And if you don't know how to make Excel bend to your will, ask me or someone else who can help. We'll learn with you. Can you think of any better way to model the power of spreadsheets for your students?
Update: Visit the Contextures Blog for the full round-up of Spreadsheet Day posts.