Google Sheets is free and easier to use than you might think. Let’s take a look at some tips and tricks for using Google Sheets in your classroom.
Getting Started with Google Sheets
There are two main ways to get started with Google Sheets. If you are already in your drive, you can click the new button.
You can also type google.sheets.com and it will look like this.
Templates in Google Sheets
If you click the arrows next to the words template gallery, you can explore the many premade templates they have for you. They are all editable so you can make them do what you want.
Some of the templates you might find useful in your classroom are To-Do List, 2017 Calendar, Schedule, Team Roster, Pros and Cons, Attendance, Grade Book, and Assignment Tracker.
The templates are a starting place but you can simply click to change them and make them want you want them to be.
Starting with a Blank Sheet
While templates can be useful, most of the time I want to just start with a blank sheet and make it my own. If you start with a blank sheet, there are a few short cuts that can make it simple to work with.
Tips and Tricks for Google Sheets
I like to have numbers in my sheets since each student is assigned a number. Rather than type the numbers out, let the sheet do the work for you.
That little blue square that appears at the bottom of the selected cell is your friend. If you select multiple cells, it will figure out what to do with the pattern. If you select one cell, it will copy/ paste that cell where ever you drag it.
You can use this copy feature for words, numbers, and functions.
Automatically Format Number Type
If you are keeping track of grades, you can easily have any number you type converted into percent formatting. You can also format numbers for dates, time, and money.
You can set up cells to automatically change to a certain color based on what is typed inside. One practical use for that is for analyzing data. I like to set my spread sheets up so that a certain percentage turns green, yellow or red. It helps me see at a quick glance how the class did over all.
Making Google Sheets Look Nice
If I have to stare at something all year, it better look pretty. Here are a couple of my favorite tricks to make your Google Sheet look fantastic.
If you’ve ever collected information in a form that required a sentence as an answer, you’ve seen how funky sheets can look. My favorite fix is to click the column heading and format the text to wrap. This automatically adjusts the height of the row to allow you to see all of the information.
Double Click to Adjust the Cell Size
One quick way to fix the way a sheet looks is to double click between the columns. This will adjust the width of the column to the size of the largest amount of text in that column.
Freeze the Top Row in a Google Sheet
Ever used a preformated sheet and noticed that the top row didn’t change when you scrolled? That is simple to do in your own sheets.
Change the Formatting on Multiple Columns
If you hold down the shift key and select multiple columns, you can change the formatting on all those columns at the same time.
You can do the same thing to rows that you can do to columns. Just click on the number on the left to select the row or rows you want to format.
Looking at sheets can make your eyes feel wonky. I love using alternating colors to help make Google Sheets easier to read.
Use Drop Down Menus
Drop down arrows on columns can help you with quick short cuts.
The tabs at the bottom of the sheet also have drop down arrows. This can be especially helpful if you set up one sheet you’d like to use multiple times. You can choose duplicate to make more tabs with the same formatting.
Resources Appearing in this Post
I used a couple of my resources when making these gifs and screenshots. Both of these resources contain formatted Google Sheets that are ready to use.
Check out this blog post about Google Classroom.