Below is the continuation and conclusion of the Microsoft Excel lesson that I began blogging about last month. Keep in mind that these lessons are designed for 30 to 40 minute long class periods, and that the complete lesson of creating a data table and graphing it could easily be accomplished within a 60-minute class period.
Graphing in Microsoft ExcelPhase One
The first step in this lesson is to have students open their saved files. Based on the operating system and technology platform this could be a simple task, or it could be extremely time-consuming. In my situation, it was the latter primarily due to the lack of a clearly defined "Start" button on the Windows operating system.
Students become so comfortable with the process of clicking something once to get it to open, so its important that you practice opening files on their computers in order to clearly direct them to click or double-click to access and open their file.
The actual process of generating a graph will vary based on your operating system and the version of Microsoft that you are using. My classes use Microsoft 2010. [Yet my work laptop uses Microsoft 2007 and my personal Mac uses Microsoft 2011]
Once the students have their data table files open, have them select the data by one of two methods:
1. Click, hold and dragging through the cells with data
or, my professional preference
2. Have them select the cell containing data in the upper-left corner of the table. Hold the 'shift' key
and use the arrows on the keyboard to select the cells containing data in the table.
Regardless of the process used, once the table is selected (all except for the starting cell, which will remain white), the mouse clicker or the 'shift' key can be released.
When the table is highlighted, all of the selected cells will be blue with the exception of the first one selected, as is shown in the image above.
Proceeding to Phase Three without properly completing Phase Two will lead to a blank graph as is shown below:
**Reminder: The following directions apply to Microsoft 2010. Every version varies slightly.
With the table selected, you will choose the 'Insert' option in order to create a graph. When teaching this, correlate the word 'Insert' with the action of including something on the spreadsheet.
Before allowing students to choose a graph, lead a brief 3 to 5 minute discussion on what type of data could be displayed in each type of graph. Make sure that students understand that a pie graph displays percentages or parts of a whole, as this is a concept that will surely be taught in their math classes and that will definitely be seen on standardized exams.
Once the students demonstrate an understanding of the uses for the different types of graphs, allow them to graph.
***When discussing the different types of graph, direct students to choose graphs where the colors in the graph don't touch. More often than not, the graphs with touching colors will generate graphs that do not properly replicate the data found in the data table. See the example below:
From here, the students will undoubtedly have fun exploring the many different graph colors, designs and so much more.
For assessment purposes, I laid out the following guidelines for students:
1. Choose a graph that relates to the information being graphed.
2. Include a Chart Title.
3. Include an axis label that describes what the numbers represent.
With the great quantity of time in this particular lesson committed to student exploration, I waited until everyone had made a graph prior to explaining the process of making titles and labels.
In this portion of the lesson, it is important to explain to students that the button below the 'down' button is referred to as the 'more' button, and that if they choose that option then they will see ALL of the options of that particular category.
It is also important to explain that the cursor must be blinking before they press 'backspace', because if not the text box will disappear altogether, as can be seen in the following example:
And, last, but not least...YES...you can type sideways.
Below are some of the end products from this lesson. Let's see if you can figure out who earned an A+.