Education Resources for Teachers

NSF-funded researchers at Oregon State University have developed this set of curriculum materials to support using spreadsheets in schools.
Curriculum resources for Integrating Spreadsheets in Algebra I
These resources focus on teaching eight major concepts that are typically considered in a first year algebra course in the middle grades. The activities in each concept area have been purposefully designed to guide students in building skills with spreadsheets so that they are learning to use spreadsheets as mathematical learning tools.
EUSES Spreadsheet Problems for Teachers
These problems have proven very useful and helpful to students so we post them here for free use among teachers. Primarily these problems are of the level of middle to high school students and feature math concepts taught through the use of spreadsheets.
Scaffolding Math Learning with Spreadsheets - Article by Maggie Niess
In this article, we review how these and other spreadsheets have been used in grades 6-12 to teach Algebra and related concepts.

Education Activities and Outreach

STEM Academy-- Summer classes: visit The STEM Academy Site for more information.

Hands-on Involvement

Some of our observational research has involved teaching at-risk middle school students in Pittsburgh to use the Alice programming system to create interactive, 3D stories.

Also, available to a wider group of Pennsylvania students, the Pennsylvania Governor's School for Information Technology held at Penn State each summer has several upcoming hands-on experiences for students (including character development in game environments), in conjunction with surveys and interviews for informal evaluation.

At Oregon State University through the Department of Science and Mathematics Education, we have been offering a series of summer professional development coursework for K-12 and community college mathematics teachers who are teaching mathematics with spreadsheets. During these courses, we involve K-12 teachers in both the use and the development of a curriculum that includes teaching about the spreadsheet while teaching mathematics. Using evolving prototypes developed by EUSES reseachers, teachers experiment with their curricular ideas by developing exercises and plans for students. The teachers have a chance to try out their innovations with interested STEM Academy middle-school and high-school students who are attending summer activities. The teachers ultimately take their best ideas back to their classrooms to incorporate into their teaching of mathematics.

Following the summer coursework, science and mathematics educators will follow the curriculum and instruction that teachers implement in their individual schools and classes. More details about this professional development opportunity can be found in the Education Links section.

In conjunction with that series, STEM Academy is offering accompanying sessions for high school students who join teachers who have been learning in the summer courses. Students are identified through an announcement to all area middle and high schools.

In preparation for the summer work with teachers and students, a multi-week experience will be offered where high school students work with the computer science researchers and the science and mathematics education researchers use the research prototypes to explore spreadsheets that have been seeded with errors. The recruitment advertisement encourages students to become computer science investigators:

CSI: Computer Spreadsheet Investigators

Why do spreadsheets give us answers that don't make sense? Why don't spreadsheets solve the problem we want them to? Errors are hard to find and we don't know where to start looking for them. We need detectives who are willing to work with new prototype software tools designed to help spreadsheets users figure out what mistakes are made. In this class you will use spreadsheets to solve math problems and hand-in-hand with a team of computer scientists and math educators, you will investigate different spreadsheets designed to solve specific math problems. Some prior experience working with Excel spreadsheets is preferable.

High-school Research Assistant

Last summer we involved the first of several high-school student research assistants in our research. The student who was selected is an outstanding female student from a rural area of Oregon. She worked on empirical aspects of our research. One goal of involving high-school research assistants is to interest them (especially members of underrepresented groups or rural students) in computer science research as a future career option.

Two more high school students will be selected this summer to work with two computer science professors and their graduate students

Presentations to K-12 Students

We will be presenting some of our results during the Mid-Summer Conference held at OSU on July 22-23, 2005 for high school students (from around the state of Oregon and southern Washington) who are in the eight-week Apprenticeships in Science and Engineering (ASE) Program. Researchers involved in the grant will give brief presentations to acquaint high school students with the need for the research and the results to this point. (The ASE Program was the recipient of an NSF grant in the early 90s and is definitely a success story for NSF sustainability.)

Outreach to K-12 Education Professionals

Presentations to national mathematics conferences have focused on using spreadsheets to learn mathematics. One presentation was made to the Association for Mathematics Teacher Educators' annual conference in January, a second will be to the National Council of Teacher of Mathematics annual conference in April, and a third spreadsheet workshop will be presented at the National Education Computer Conference in Philadelphia in June. All of these sessions focus on helping teachers redesign their mathematics curriculum that includes the spreadsheet as a tool. In particular teachers explore ways to scaffold student learning of mathematics with spreadsheets in a way that the spreadsheets are reliable and maintain their quality when changes are made to consider problem extensions.

Other Links