Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Using Excel in Your Literacy Block

As I was discussing teaching our third graders graphing in Excel, one of the teachers mentioned that it is hard to fit it in the curriculum without contriving a situation since we are such a literacy based school. This got me thinking, and I came up with a few situations in which we could incorporate Excel meaningfully in our literacy blocks as a whole class and/or on an individual basis.

Good readers ask questions. As such, it would be fairly easy to collect data that we could graph around these questions. For example, if you are modeling a particular question during a group read aloud, students could brainstorm some possible answers. Once five or six answers are written down on the board or a flip chart, a quick survey could be done on the answers and summed up in Excel. The survey can either be done by hand, or if it is a question asked after reading, could be put into a Google Form and during independent reading time, students could come up to the computer and submit their answer.
The graph can be displayed once everyone has submitted their response and could continue to be displayed the next day at group read aloud time before reading as discussion, or during reading to see what the answer turns out to be. This would engage the students even further as they look at the graph, remember their choice and then pay attention during the reading to see what happens in the book. Depending on the age of the students, each day a different student or group of students can be in charge of creating the graph from the information provided.

Other examples include students voting for their favorite character, then discussing why a certain character won. Comprehension questions work well here, as do analysis questions that require students to brainstorm ideas/solutions. I found an excellent list of questions that are organized by Blooms Taxonomy and many of them would work well with a graph.

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