Sunday, 28 July 2013

Home Schooling Early Years ICT, part 4: Creating a spreadsheet.

Teaching how computers are good at calculations. Very impressed with how quickly DD2 absorbed the learning objectives. #EarlyYearsICT  

The second piece of software that I decided to introduce to DD2 was the spreadsheet. Like last time, I taught its use in context of a project, showing how it is a tool to entering, calculating and presenting data.

Lesson 3: Creating a spreadsheet
·       Understand how spreadsheets can be used to record, manipulate and present data
·       Create a spreadsheet, learn saving strategies, use one type of data presentation

1.     Review treasure hunt from last time, to make sure instructions are clear and has spaces to record times for each picture. Print off two copies.
2.     Challenge Mummy and DD1 to complete the treasure hunt, timing how long it takes to find each picture.
3.     Use google docs to create a spreadsheet recording the time taken for each person to find each clue.
4.     Calculate the total time for each person to complete the treasure hunt.
5.     Plot a scatter graph of times.
6.     Add an average line.
7.     Save, print out and present findings to Mummy.

I’d forgotten how bad Google Drive was at printing documents. DD2 had to be patient whilst I tried to figure a workaround. Thankfully, DD2 is a beautifully behaved student, and didn’t mind being patient. Still, it was a waste of both of our time to struggle with something so basic. 

The treasure hunt was a roaring success. It had all the ingredients to be engaging to DD2: it was a physical activity outside; the weather was sunny and warm; we were doing this activity as a family; and DD2 was in charge. She gave us all our instructions, and our ready-set-go! By doing the hunt, I realised that our instructions weren’t precise enough – lesson learnt is to be as prescriptive as possible, and try to walk through the activity in advance.

We were exhausted when we got back home, so the rest of the lesson took a well-earned pause for lunch. After the break, entering data into the spreadsheet was the first ICT learning point. Remembering last lesson, I decided to create the structure of the spreadsheet in advance to prevent DD2 fatiguing due to typing. I’m very glad I did, because I did sense her concentration waning towards the end of the list.

The second learning point was how to communicate with the software, in other words, learning the syntax of referencing cells, and entering a formula. DD2 picked that up quite quickly, and was able to enter simple sum and average formulae. She also leant by trial and error, what happens if the syntax is wrong – it just doesn’t work, and you have to figure out where you made the mistake, i.e. debug.

Because she was doing so well, I tried showing her data entry tricks like how to auto-fill cells by dragging, and how to visually check that data ranges were correct. Even though she understood what to do, I found that her fine motor control made the mouse control difficult, until I zoomed in to 150%.

The last learning point was on how to present the data. DD2 has learnt about tally charts at school, so I thought I’d show her bar graphs. She was able to create a simple bar chart, and draw conclusions from the data – that DD1 was better at the treasure hunt than Mummy.

I found that DD2 liked being “tidy”, ensuring that after each step, the highlighted cell was always A1. It’s interesting that she wants to be tidy when learning, but is completely untidy when playing. I was very impressed, once again, with her work and her concentration level. I was much less impressed with Google Drive – it’s just not fit-for-purpose for a novice, which is such a shame because it really ought to be.

More in this series: part 3. 

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