dig the data

Dig the Data

In Dig the Data you will learn about a variety of resources and techniques to analyze data by using spreadsheets and graphs. Expanding your skills in using spreadsheets can improve your teaching productivity. 

A spreadsheet is like a table on steroids, where the cells are the intersection of the rows and columns, and have cell addresses like A1 (Column A, Row 1). 

In addition to creating spreadsheets, you can use these programs to create charts and graphs (pie, bar, X-Y, scatterplot, etc.). The use of spreadsheets can be integrated into your classroom by asking students to evaluate or analyze data. It can also be used to look for trends in student performance, for progress monitoring, or used with student information or data warehousing systems. 

We have found that spreadsheet skills in teachers are very disparate. One goal of this thing is to help everyone have basic vocabulary, graphing, charting, filtering, sorting, and formula skills with spreadsheets.  

Spreadsheets in Education

What is a spreadsheet, and how can you use it in the classroom?

Educators use spreadsheets for data collection, lists, calculations, sorting, explore what-if questions, problem-solving, and for creating graphics to show trends and analysis. Please visit and explore the following resources that describe using spreadsheets in education. Your task is to identify at least two or three ideas where you can use a spreadsheet in your own practice.

Working with Spreadsheets

The four resources above should help you understand the power of spreadsheets. Choose a spreadsheet application to use for this assignment. Popular spreadsheet applications include Microsoft Excel now part of the free Office 365 suite, Google Sheets (FREE in Google Drive), Open Office spreadsheets (FREE), and many others. Check with your district if you are not sure which application is available. 

Building your skills 

There are numerous tutorials available online for any application you will select to use for this assignment. We have provided links to a few below.

  1. Select a spreadsheet application

  2. Review some of the videos to learn about spreadsheet basics

  3.  Move through the tutorials based on your skill level

  4. Make sure you understand basic spreadsheet techniques: how to format data, sort data, create a chart or graph, generate a count, filter data, and enter and use a formula.

Formulas which are commonly applied in education will involve totaling columns of data, calculating an average, and finding maximum and minimum scores. 

Your assignment will require the use of these techniques.

excel image
Microsoft Office Excel Tutorials: Video/Tutorials from 
GCFLearnFree on Excel. Note you will have to select the version you are using (e.g. 2003 2007 2010 2013, 2016. Office 365 Learning Center tutorials for Excel

 Google Spreadsheets: Video/Tutorials from GCFLearnFree on Google Spreadsheets


Practice Your Skills and Manipulate Data - Part 1

This is an opportunity to practice your skills with a spreadsheet if you are not fluent with spreadsheets. Your task in Part 1 is to sort the data file provided, then to sort the data to identify how many students are in the categories of Met or Exceeded in this ACT College Readiness Trend Report for Mathematics.

1. Download the ACT College Readiness trend data file provided here (actcollegereadinesstrend.csv)

2. Open the file in a spreadsheet program

3. Highlight the contents of the entire spreadsheet Met or Exceeded

4. Sort the data by smallest to largest

Below is a short (7.5 minute) video tutorial for Part 1, showing step-by-step directions. You can pause/play and enlarge it to full screen (click the bottom-right X symbol with the double headed arrow) for easier viewing. Save your work as you go because each part builds on the previous.

Direct link to the video


Formatting and Applying Formulas - Part 2 

In this part you will continue to work with the spreadsheet from Part 1. You will add titles, labels, and apply formulas to calculate the some totals and percentages. Both Excel and Google Spreadsheet actions are shown. Direct link to the video.

Graphs and Charts - Part 3

In this last part you will create a chart to look at the trend in data for those that Met and Exceeded, or Did not Meet the required score on the ACT College Readiness for Math. Direct link to the video.


This is the end of the practice section.

Data Collectiongform

In Evaluation & Assessment, you learned about polling and survey resources to collect data. In Collaboration, you learned about sharing documents in Google Drive/Docs. Let's build on this knowledge with the use of Google forms, a powerful online survey resource that provides data in a spreadsheet format that can be shared.

1. Review the video/tutorials on how to use Google forms or Office365 for Business and Education.

2. Complete the practice activity that will teach you to create a Google Form survey, use formulas to assess data, and create charts to analyze data.

3. Download this Google Forms Practice Activity

Office365 survey






Check out additional resources for Dig the Data

Learning Objectives

After completing this Thing, the educator will:

  • Know the basic terminology and resources used to create spreadsheets and charts

  • Understand the basic features of a spreadsheet program (formulas, charting, and sorting)

  • Manipulate and analyze data from survey tools and/or downloaded data

  • Transfer the learning for student applications and classroom productivity



21 Things Hands-On Activity and Assignment:

1.  Based on your work on the Practice for Part 1, 2, and 3 with the ACT College Readiness trend file, capture a screen shot of each to demonstrate your proficiency in sorting (see practice part 1), formatting and formulas (Part 2), and graphs/charting (Part 3). Post your screenshots to your Digital Portfolio with a brief observation of what you learned from this activity.

2. Demonstrate your use of survey and spreadsheet data. You may use the survey data from the poll/survey you administered in Thing 17 - Evaluation and Assessment activity OR create a new survey using Excel Surveys or Google Forms. Use the spreadsheet data to demonstrate the following: formulas (e.g. count of participants, average score, maximum or minimum score, totals), sorting (e.g. alphabetical, highest/lowest, etc.), and charting (pie, bar, X-Y, etc.).

3.  Explain how you might use spreadsheets and online survey/polling in the classroom. Post this to your Digital Portfolio.

4. Take the very short survey giving feedback for this Thing.


Addressing the ISTE Standards For Educators

1c. Stay current with research that supports improved student learning outcomes, including findings from the learning sciences.

2c. Model for colleagues the identification, exploration, 
evaluation, curation and adoption of
new digital resources and tools for learning.

7a. Provide alternative ways for students to demonstrate competency and reflect on their learning using technology.
7b. Use technology to design and implement a variety of formative and summative
assessments that accommodate learner needs, 
provide timely feedback to students and inform instruction.
7c. Use assessment data to guide progress and communicate with students, parents and education stakeholders to build student self-direction.


1. Setting Objectives/Providing Feedback;
2. Reinforcing Effort/Providing Recognition
3. Cues/Questions/Advance Organizers;
4. Nonlinguistic Representations;
5. Assigning Homework/Providing Practice;
6. Identifying Similarities/Differences;
7. Generating & Testing Hypotheses

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