Creating Spreadsheets in Google Drive

Spreadsheets are an effective tool to use to easily store, organize, and format data.  Often used in math and science classes, spreadsheets are composed of cells, which can be organized and manipulated to best represent the data that they hold.  While there are many software options that contain spreadsheet programs, they are often not easily shared.  However, Google Spreadsheet, a subcategory of Google Drive allows you to create spreadsheets that can be easily shared with and potentially edited by others.

Google Spreadsheets allows you to create a spreadsheet just as you would with Excel.  But, as aforementioned, it is easily shared with others.  Like all applications available in Google Drive, documents created using Google Spreadsheet can be shared, such that others can view and even edit the document, if given permission.  The documents created using Google Spreadsheet can be accessed by logging into your Google Account on any computer or mobile device and searching under Google Drive. There can be found spreadsheets that you created and that others have shared with you.

For those used to creating spreadsheets with Excel, the idea of using Google Spreadsheet could be daunting.  However, provides user-friendly tutorials thatwill make your switch to Google Spreadsheet headache free.  Under the Google Drive Essential Training, Chapter 6, Working with Spreadsheets, provides all the information you need to begin storing and organizing your data with Google Spreadsheets.

Spreadsheet 1

Selecting the sheet tab to add, delete, or format a sheet

Video 2, Navigating the Interface, discusses how to work with a Google Spreadsheet document that contains multiple sheets.  By clicking on the tabs at the bottom of the worksheet, you can control which sheet you are working on, add or delete sheets, and even duplicate an entire sheet.  The video also details the functions available in the formatting toolbar and explains how to enter text into a cell.

Screen Shot 2013-10-04 at 2.27.12 PM

Selecting an entire column to format all the data within it

Video 3, Formatting Cell Data, teaches the viewer how to edit the data in each cell using the toolbar and format tab.  The video teaches how to format individual cells, and how to format entire rows or columns, simply by clicking on their header.  The viewer will also learn how to add values to cell data.  This function allows the user to give the data meaning, by adding dollar signs, commas, and other meaningful symbols.

Spreadsheet 3

Sorting data in a column

The fourth video, Working with Rows and Columns, discusses how to edit rows and columns.  By clicking on the arrow beside the column header, the entire column can be formatted or another column can be added.  The same can be done by clicking on the row header.  The video also describes how to sort data based on a certain value.  Such a function makes the spreadsheet more organized and much easier to comprehend.

Google Spreadsheets is a useful tool because it allows the user to create a spreadsheet that they can have access to from any computer.  It can also be easily shared with others; who, if given the opportunity, can view and even edit the spreadsheet with permission.  The program is also fairly simple to use, especially if you watch the Lynda tutorials prior to working with it.  However, if you choose to continue creating your spreadsheets on Excel, read the following blog posts to learn more about what the program has to offer: Excel: Using Formats and Functions for CalculationsExcel: Creating Basic Charts Quickly, and Formatting a Microsoft Excel Spreadsheet.

If you were to use Google Spreadsheets with your students, how would you do so?  How can this program be an effective teaching tool?  If you have used the program, what do you like and dislike about it?  Please feel free to respond with any comments, thoughts, or concerns you may have!

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18 Responses to Creating Spreadsheets in Google Drive

  1. Sara R. says:

    Victoria, thank you for this informative post! Honestly, I have only used Microsoft Excel a few times, as I found it difficult to understand, did not feel like reading how-to articles online, and could not find anyone who could explain it to me in person. However, I have been aware that it could be a useful tool and understand that it is a tool that I should be comfortable with once I am in the classroom. I have a feeling that I will be using Excel, once I am comfortable with the program, when teaching math to my class or collecting data with my students in a data table. I will definitely use the Google version of this program, so that my students can be active participants in their learning from their personal devices.

    • B. Taylor says:

      Sara/all remember that unless your school system uses Google Apps for Education to host email for teachers and students, that children must be 13 or older to sign up for a free Google account, so that rules out using Google Drive tools with elementary students. With Google Apps for Education, students will have their own account provided by the school system. At this time in our local area, not many school systems are using Google Apps for Education, but Excel or Numbers (if they are Mac only and don’t have Microsoft license) are likely to be available on student computers.

  2. Aaron M. says:

    Victoria, this has been very informational. I never use Excel, I have always found alternatives and none of my teachers cared too much. Personally, it is very confusing and never wanted to read or watch how to videos or articles. With your explanation I think I may begin to mess around with it, but not too sure if I will use it on a regular basis. Thanks again!

    • B. Taylor says:

      Aaron, Don’t forget Excel is the name of Microsoft’s spreadsheet program – part of MS Office, and that was the topic of the other three posts this week. Victoria posted about Google spreadsheets. Point is that most of the topics covered in this week’s blog posts are possible in any spreadsheet program – whether it’s Excel or Google spreadsheets. The last two videos in the spreadsheets chapter of the Google Drive course cover formulas (like Anna did in her Excel post) and charts/graphs (like Winna did in her Excel post). There are great ways to use spreadsheets in many grades and subjects in K-12 schooling. Let’s brainstorm some together as we continue to add comments on this week’s posts.

  3. Tabitha C. says:

    I love Google Spreadsheets! I never really used them until this year, but they’re super helpful when organizing lots of data, such as for sorority information. This tool can both be helpful for teachers: organize their students’ information for field trips, grades, meal plans, etc., and for students. Students can use spreadsheets for homework that works with data (such as math) or can be put into leadership positions, where they keep track of people and participation and money through a spreadsheet. Your post did a great job not giving step by step instructions but making me want to watch the videos. Nice post!

  4. Angie E. says:

    Hey Victoria!
    I also like Google Spreadsheets and find them very useful. Part of my job on campus is organizing and recording the expenses of the HERP project. Google Spreadsheets allow my
    boss and I to collaborate on them and access them from any computer.
    I think Google Spreadsheets could be a great way for students to do collaborative science or math projects that involve data entry. Since the program allows students to organize and manipulate information, they could figure out the best way to present their data logically.
    Great job on your formatting too! Your screenshots are really helpful for guiding our formatting.

  5. Steph G. says:

    Victoria! Awesome blog post. I like that Google Spreadsheets can be shared with other people, like a Google Doc. I’ve never used one before, but know that I know more about them, I definitely would feel comfortable using one for a project or something that needs spreadsheets. I also like that they can be accessed on any computer, it makes it much less stressful when it comes time to save your work. Your screenshots do a nice job of supporting what you are saying!

  6. Sydney R. says:

    I’ve actually had quite a lot of practice with Google Spreadsheets through my position in Parent’s Night Out. Every month I have to make a sign in sheet for the kids that are coming with information such as their ages and their contact information. While I eventually figured out how to use it myself, I definitely could have used this post when I was first starting out! I find Google Spreadsheets much less intimidating than Excel for some reason, and I love how you can access it from any computer, without having to email it to yourself. Great post!

  7. Winna P. says:

    Such a great post, Victoria! Since coming to Elon, I’ve used Google Drive so much and absolutely love it. As mentioned by Tabitha, Google Spreadsheets specifically, are so helpful when needing to organize data or information within our sorority or even any group of people! Within the classroom using a Google Spreadsheet would be a good way to collect student’s basic information. A teacher I interned for my senior year of high school used Google Spreadsheets to create an ongoing roster for her class. On back to school night she collected parent’s emails created a Google Spreadsheet where parents would fill out basic contact information- student’s name, address, parent’s phone numbers and email addresses. Throughout the year parents utilized this roster. It allowed one parent to set up a carpool. She was able to find other students that lived near her and her family and contacted the parents from the information provided on the spreadsheet. Such a great idea! Thanks so much for sharing this information, you did an awesome job!

    • B. Taylor says:

      Great idea on how a teacher can use a Google spreadsheet to collect info from parents. Don’t forget Google Forms – see my earlier post, Creating Forms in Google Drive. The cool think about that is parents would just fill out the form and all their answers would end up in a Google spreadsheet that can be shared, organized, etc.

  8. Maria H. says:

    This is great, Victoria! Before this class, I never knew that you can have pages in a workbook, or that a workbook was even a thing! It’s so much more succinct this way, and you can give a whole lot of information without sending 10 different Google Spreadsheets to people. All of your summaries of the videos were well done, especially since you had so many to go over. This post would make anyone want to go to and watch all of the videos to become more informed! Great post!

  9. Mary F. says:

    Such a great blog post! I never knew workbooks existed until I read this! How helpful that you can put a bunch of graphs together and not have to have ten separate pages up on your computer or you can send out information all at one time. It’s so helpful that this can be shared through google. Thanks so much for all the new information!

  10. Alexia M. says:

    Victoria, your post was very informative, especially since I have never really used google spreadsheets except for when prompted to fill something out by a professor (such as Dr. Taylor). It is possible that as a future teacher I could use google spreadsheets along with other teachers to view different data, or I could use it with parents for finding people to volunteer or bring certain things into the classroom. I would like to work with 1st grade students, so I think it would be a bit more difficult for them to actually use it, unless they knew what charts or spreadsheets actually were.

  11. Katie H. says:

    Victoria thanks for a really informative post! Using spreadsheets has always scared me because I have never really known what I was doing. I found this very helpful in explaining how to use Google Spreadsheets. I thinks it’s awesome that Google gives people the ability to share spreadsheets with other users who can add to the document or need to view the document. The only time I have ever used Google Spreadsheets is for sorority information, similar to what Tabitha mentioned. I now know that they are very easy to create and can be used for a variety of reasons. I don’t know if I would use them in my classroom, but they could be helpful to use with parents while organizing supplies for a party or parent volunteers in the class. Thanks so much for your post!

  12. Chelsea S. says:

    Thank you Victoria for such an easy to understand post! I like using Google spreadsheets to keep track of my grades for each class, it’s really helpful to stay organized and stay on track of how well I’m doing in a certain class! I’m not sure how I would use them in my classroom, but for personal usage, I love them!

  13. Anna B. says:

    Hey Victoria! Great post!! I use Google spreadsheets regularly through different organizations on campus for all kinds of information from ordering t-shirts to signing up for events. I feel that Google spreadsheets are used a lot in college, at least I have had lots of basic experience with them! I love them because they are so easy to share with others and large groups of people can contribute their own piece to the spreadsheet. Your post was super helpful though in the sense that I don’t really ever format my spreadsheets or anything, so I learned a lot about that here! As a teacher I can see Google spreadsheets being very useful to keep track of information across lots of teachers. For example, if a grade was doing a fundraiser, each teacher in that grade could enter in how much their class made in a week on one collaborative spreadsheet. Thanks for posting!

    • B. Taylor says:

      Great idea Anna – having teachers collaborate on a shared spreadsheet. As you say, often spreadsheets are used are just for “signing up” for stuff – to gather information that is not necessarily going to be used in calculations, but the same features you shared with us in your own post about formulas and functions in Excel are right there in Google Spreadsheets along with autofill, sorting, making graphs, etc. There are so many ways teachers can use Google spreadsheets to share data.

  14. Laura H. says:

    The spreadsheet portion is the most comfortable I am with in google drive, and your extensive information makes me feel like a total pro now! It will be so useful for us as teachers in the future, as previous comments have said. Great post!

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