Computer Skills Curriculum
Spreadsheet Lesson Plan

Title: Class of "Characters"

Grade: 6

Competency 2.4: Enter and edit data into a prepared spreadsheet to test simple "What if?" statements.

Measure 3.2.1: Given a spreadsheet of student grades, enter different numbers for the last test score to determine what scores would earn a final average higher than 90.

Materials Needed: Scorekeeper's notebook with data for some school sport; handouts and transparency of the GradeBook Spreadsheet black line master; overhead projector; a lab of computers running the spreadsheet file, GradBK2 or a single computer in the classroom.

Time: Two class sessions

Terms: Columns, Rows, Cells, Labels, Values, Formulas
Grade 7 Glossary



  1. Review spreadsheet concepts and terms.
  2. Show the class an example of a sports (basketball, soccer, hockey) scorekeeper's notebook. Ask the students to identify the parts of the scorekeeper's information using spreadsheet terms.
  3. Have the students make up statements like "What if (name) scores a goal, then how will the team scoring average change?".
  4. Discuss with the students the benefits of using a spreadsheet for solving these questions instead of doing all the calculations by hand.


  1. Announce to the class that they are going to create an electronic gradebook and enter grades for any well known character they want: Donald Duck, Babe Ruth, Hillary Clinton, etc.
  2. Divide the class into groups of 3 or 4. Ask each group to spend about five minutes thinking of the character they want to use.
  3. While students are discussing their choices, pass out a copy of the black line master Grade Book Spreadsheet to each group. Also project a transparency of the same black line master for the class to see.
  4. After each group has selected their character, ask them to write the name of the character in the name column. Model this by writing the name of a character on the transparency using an erasible transparency marker.
  5. Explain that their personality has already earned five grades:
    1. A test on the early explorers of the New World
    2. A homework assignment on math word problems
    3. A book report on a book they read during the summer
    4. A test on earthquakes and volcanoes
    5. An essay on what's wrong and what's right with TV
  6. Ask the groups to work together and decide what grade their character might have earned on each of these activities and assignments and write the grades down on their Grade Book Spreadsheet handout by their character's name.
  7. Have each group come to the computer with the GradeBK2 spreadsheet file loaded and type their character's name and grades onto the next free row. Ask the students to watch the Average column and see how the numbers change each time a new grade is typed in. Ask the students as they finish typing in their data, to explain to the teacher what was happening in the Average column.
  8. Next explain that their class of characters has one more assign. They will each take a test on the proper use of the comma. Ask the class the following questions:
    • Q1 What would happen if you came to the computer and typed in a grade of "84" for the sixth assignment?
    • Answer: The new average will appear in the Average column calculated from the new grade.
    • Q2 What would happen if you changed the last grade from "84" to "70"?
    • Answer: A new average would appear in the Average column based on the new grade.
    • Q3 How might you use this technique to figure out the lowest grade your character needs to make in order to have an average of 90 or greater?
    • Answer: Keep trying numbers in the column for the last grade until you get an average of at least 90. (The explaination here could be more complex in terms of technique and strategy)
  9. Tell the class that each group is going to come to the computer and enter/edit the grade for the grade 6 test until they have identified the lowest grade that their character should earn on that test in order to have an average of at least 90.
  10. After each group has found the necessary grade for their character, have a representative from each group report who their character is and what grade the character had to earn to get an average of 90.
  11. Ask the class what sort of question they are asking when they changed the grade each time. An appropriate answer should have the word "if" in it. You are asking the question, "If I try a 75, what will the average of all grades be?" Explain that the ability to solve "what if" problems is a very important benefit of computer spreadsheets. Since they can make many calculations very quickly, a problem solver can try different solutions and observe the outcome almost instantly.


Given a spreadsheet of test grades, students will enter different numbers for the last test score to determine what score would earn a final average higher than 90. Students will also explain how they are using the spreadsheet to answer "what if" questions to solve the problem.