5 Ways to Use Google Sheets for Better Learning Experiences

Emma Foley
Curriculum Specialist
Blog on February 07 2022

Google Sheets is an excellent tool to help create, edit, format and share a wide variety of spreadsheets with others. We’ve identified five ways of using Google Sheets in the classroom and the benefits of using this versatile spreadsheet application – with options for teachers and for students. Who knows, maybe these ideas will spark inspiration. Feel free to share your ideas and success stories in the comments!

Reason #1: Digital Gradebook

If you haven’t gone digital with your gradebook yet, what are you waiting for? With the help of Google Sheets, you can get back some of the time you have lost over the years. In the age of technology, many educators have ditched their paper grading book, and immediately felt more organized because all of their grades are right there whenever they need them. Additionally, with the accessibility of an online gradebook, there is no need to worry about leaving the school building empty-handed.

Save yourself some time by automating the mathematics involved in grading. You can set your Sheets gradebook up to automatically calculate numeric averages or to automatically calculate mode if you are looking at larger data sets (i.e. for a whole grade instead of a single class) and are using a leveled grading system such as Level 4, 3, 2, 1. This can all be done with some knowledge of the formula function within Google Sheets.  

Another reason that it may be worth taking your gradebook digital is how easy it makes it to pull individual student reports during impromptu meetings regarding student progress. You no longer have to flip through pages of a physical gradebook. With a standardized list of students across your different spreadsheets, you can easily look across a given row or column and access all of the student’s grades. This lends itself to a more authentic conversation and more specific next steps to support student learning.

Reason #2: To-Do Lists

One of the many many assets of Google Sheets is the template gallery, which is readily available and definitely worth checking out. You will find a ton of options where all the formatting is pretty much done for you, including a to-do list template. The various types of spreadsheets available to use.

If you are someone who likes creating their own format for your to-do lists, Google Sheets is simple and easy to use, so you can ditch the template and create your own. With some knowledge of how to add features such as in-cell drop downs or checkboxes, you can make your to-do list your own to fit your every need. You can even customize your in-cell drop down lists to select from options such as task completed, task-in-progress, yet to start, etc. To access these features go to “Data” and select “data validation”. Under “criteria” you can choose “checkbox” or “list of items.”

The data validation section where cell range and criteria can be adjusted.

To learn more about in-cell drop downs and conditional formatting and check out some examples, visit our Sheets course within our Google Advanced Micro Credential on OTIS for Educators.

Reason #3: Resource Center

With Google Sheets, you can easily compile hyperlinks to make it a one-stop-shop for resources. You can use this for resources you intend to share with other teachers or with your students. With organization options such as formatting tools and the option to create multiple tabs within a given spreadsheet, you can easily create a document that’s easy and clear for others to navigate. To insert a hyperlink, go to the link icon in the menu bar (you can also go to Insert>link). Then, simply enter the text you wish to display and the URL in the indicated boxes. For larger files, you can even link to data ranges and other sheets within the workbook.

Reason #4: Reading Logs

Have you experienced that dreaded moment when your student takes the last photocopied reading log from the folder and you are in need of two more? Have you had that one student in your class who always somehow misplaces their reading log over the weekend? The solution is here – digital reading logs!

There are so many ways you can customize a Google Sheet to fit the needs of your students. One option is to take advantage of the in-cell drop down feature to give students a list of genres to select from as they log their reading. For your more advanced students who understand percentages, you could apply the formula feature to create a column for the percentages of their books they’ve completed. You could even take it one step further and apply conditional formatting to that column, shading it different shades of green, so the further they are through the book, the darker the green!

An example of a reading log made on Google Sheets.


To view a more detailed tutorial on how to apply these features to make your reading logs digital, visit our Sheets course in our Google Advanced Micro Credential.

Reason #5: Healthy Eating Food Logs

Whether you are responsible for your school’s health elective or you just want to educate your students on healthy eating choices, you can use Google Sheets to help students become more attuned with their diet. Start with a lesson on how to identify good and bad foods to eat, with some focus on nutritional labels and food groups. Then, introduce a Google Sheets activity to make that lesson even more valuable for students. Once students have the basic understanding of good and bad foods, have them log their daily diets. With a few simple clicks, you can set up conditional formatting rules so healthy foods change to green and junk food changes to red. The colors shown are a great visual cue to show students trends in their habits and may even result in some healthier food choices!

To learn more about Google Sheets and all it has to offer aside from what was shared, check out these courses on our online professional development platform OTIS for Educators. We cover everything from creating graphs for individual students to share with guardians, to applying conditional formatting to visually organize your gradebook, the possibilities are endless!

For more tips, tricks, and tools for teaching in and out of the classroom, check out more articles on the Teq Talk blog.

We also offer virtual professional development, training, and remote learning support for educators with OTIS for educators. Explore the technology, tools, and strategies that can spark student success — no matter where teaching or learning are happening.

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