A blog about teaching and learning in a maths classroom.

Saturday, 10 February 2007 | Comments

Excel, part of Microsoft Office, is great for working with numbers. For a maths class, Excel can be used for standard applications like working with tables of data and creating graphs. Other teaching and learning applications that I’ve seen include creating self-marking computer based worksheets, interactive worksheets using sliders and even randomly generating questions for paper worksheets.

Using excel to randomly generate questions has been a real time-saver in my teaching. At our school, we usually start a maths lesson with a “quick quiz” – whilst initially reluctant I have seen benefits for using them in our school which may not be required at other schools. This post isn’t really the place for discussing the pros and cons of starting a maths lesson like this, but I will provide some positive aspects of using a quick quiz:

- it provides a structured settling activity at the start of the lesson
- it can be used to refresh students knowledge of skills prerequisite for a lesson
- you can review past work, and with feedback mechanisms note where problems may still exist
- it maintains mental arithmetic skills which are tested in the School Certificate

Onto the real point of this post. Below is a way to use Excel to generate a question about adding (with a slight change, subtracting) money. To create a new question, just hit `F9`. Excel recalculates and you have a new question.

I have a single Excel worksheet with many of these random questions generators on it. Each time I press `F9`, I have 10 new questions ready to print/paste. The question types vary too. Question 6, for example, is chosen from 6 different types of unit conversion questions.

A | B | C | |
---|---|---|---|

1 | $8.40 | $1.20 | $8.40 + $1.20 = ___$9.60 |

- A1
=RANDBETWEEN(1,10)+CEILING(RAND(),0.05)

- B1
=CEILING(RANDBETWEEN(1,200)/100,0.05)

- C1
=CONCATENATE(TEXT(A1,"$0.00")," + ",TEXT(B1,"$0.00")," = ___",TEXT(A1+B1,"$0.00"))

Posted in • How to • Software • Excel | Short URL: http://mths.co/1194

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**Simon Job** — eleventh year of teaching maths in a public high school in Western Sydney, Australia.

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