Monday, April 21, 2014

Using Spreadsheets for Life Decisions

The best projects build current content on previous units and have an application that carries beyond the classroom. Occasionally, I create a culminating unit project that gets it right. 

We just finished a unit on spreadsheets: everything from basic construction to formulas and graphs. For me, the point of spreadsheets are to make sense of data collected. 

Organizing, sorting and charting helps us see the picture through the volume of data. This naturally leads to reporting what we find in the data. Without application, without impacting change, the data loses its meaning. 

"Truth that is learned but not applied, forms callouses on the soul."

This project asks students to compare five colleges in a total of nine areas. The way the data is organized and presented is intentionally left up to their discretion. This gives students the thrill of discovery. The focus is not on getting it right but telling the story. By pulling the data from their personal choices, they begin to tell their own story.

My favorite part of the project is involving parents. What an opportunity for parents to engage their child in a discussion about choosing a college. By grounding choices in data, much of the disagreement looses its emotional punch. Parents can look at the same data and come up with a totally different interpretation, which helps students see different perspectives.

The College Comparison Report is available on Google Drive. Feel free to make a copy and tweak it for your classroom.