Spreadsheets, and the software used to create them like Excel (PC) and Numbers (Mac), are a perfect fit for math and science classrooms where many mathematical calculations must be performed and tracked. Students will gain valuable skills utilizing spreadsheets in these classes. However, students can also use spreadsheets effectively in Language Arts classes. Len Vacher (2012) explains that any “course that uses tables and graphs is an opportunity for students to become more quantitatively literate” through the use of spreadsheets.
Using spreadsheets for non-mathematical means will push students to gain organizational skills that they can continue to apply outside of the classroom. For example, Sylvia Cini (n.d.) describes on eHow.com how spreadsheets “may also be used for the production of word tables such as vocabulary lists, word etymology or grammatical elements with explanation.” If students maintain a single vocabulary document throughout the course of the year, adding a new sheet or page with each new vocabulary unit, they will have a printable vocabulary portfolio at the end of the school year to document their learning.
Spreadsheets can be applied to the Language Arts classroom for the study of literature as well. Roblyer and Doering (2013) describe how the ability to organize “…data and allow students to perform required descriptive statistical analyses on them” is a key feature of spreadsheets. Students can track plot events in a timeline, keep track of repetitive uses of imagery or symbolism, or organize lists of characters. This data can be used when writing literary analyses after the reading.
Spreadsheets are not the normal go-to digital tool in the Language Arts classroom. However, their utility as tool to track data is really complimentary to many tasks performed in the Language Arts classroom. Educators would be doing a service to students by enlightening students on the many versatile uses of spreadsheets.
Cini, S. (n.d.). How to Use Spreadsheets in Language Arts | eHow.com. eHow | How to Videos, Articles & More – Discover the expert in you. | eHow.com. Retrieved February 27, 2013, from http://www.ehow.com/how_7909409_use-spreadsheets-language-arts.html
Roblyer, M. D., & Doering, A. H. (2013). Integrating educational technology into teaching. Boston: Pearson/Allyn and Bacon Publishers.
Vacher, L. (2012, June 12). Teaching with Spreadsheets Across the Curriculum. SERC. Retrieved February 27, 2013, from http://serc.carleton.edu/sp/ssac/index.html