541 Importance of Databases and Spreadsheets

In reading chapter 4, I was struck by how much I have come to rely on databases and spreadsheets in my teaching career. It’s hard to remember a time when I didn’t use them and recorded everything by hand or had to maintain extensive libraries of information.

Students need to be organized to be successful. It’s personal preference how they go about doing this (a pile may look messy to me, but to some people- it’s organization). Unfortunately, so may websites use databases and spreadsheets, that it’s a good idea to teach students how to use these efficiently. They just can’t expect to get away from them.

Databases are a great way to have a digital index of what’s out there on the web. I wish there were more of them. I actually remember a time of performing a web search and getting only 10 or so results. These days when you search, you can have tens of thousands of results. It’s important to have more databases to narrow those topics down to what you really want and not every page that happens to mention the words you typed in the search bar. Databases can take all the similar information and organize it for easier comparison or research.

Spreadsheets are these crazy tables that will work for you! It’s like having someone else do your homework, McFly! You can also compare answers, numbers and you can predict what will happen next.

As Roblyer and Doering state in chapter 4, these basic software tools can ” improve productivity, appearance and accuracy and provide more support for collaboration” (p 112).


Roblyer, M. D., & Doering, A. H. (2010). Integrating educational technology into teaching, (5th ed.). Boston: Allyn & Bacon.


Review of Lesson plans:


In this second grade lesson plan, the student are in centers answering various questions. Students are called up individually by the teacher to the Smart Board to learn about databases.  The students enter their answers about dinosaurs in the database.

I really like this idea of starting with the most obvious- what is a database. I think for middle school this could easily take only one class period. Then you could move forward onto actually using the database to compile more information (i.e What do you think the end of Mozart’s Requiem would have sounded like if he had not died while trying to finish it?)


This two part lesson started with the idea of making a graph about various topics (basically starting with – what is a graph). Then it moved to all the student graphing the same data about different popcorn brands.

I would love to adapt this into two parts as well. The first idea would be for students to graph how many minutes they and their family members listen to music- minutes per day/week. They could also extend it for the advanced group and graph what kids of music they listen to or for what purpose they listen. The second part would then be to graph how many minutes they actually practice their music for class each day/week. This is could be really valuable!



6 responses to this post.

  1. Hello Liz,

    I agree with your thought that databases and spreadsheets are great organization tools, especially in today’s digital age. I routinely use Excel for sorting or searching large clumps of data or for performing data calculations. What are some of your favorite internet “databases” that you use?

    Thanks for your thoughts!


    • There are several music review websites that I love. GMEA has compiled several pages of Music Advocacy websites that are great to use with students! They always ask (whine to) me “Why do I have to take this class?” meaning Music Appreciation.I start with the database of music advocacy websites and make them research why they have to take my class.


  2. Posted by Trevor on March 16, 2011 at 4:48 pm

    Great post, Liz! 🙂
    I totally agree with you on databases. They are such a great resource. I can’t say specifically, but there are companies and people that work to make web searches better 😉


  3. Posted by begs44 on March 20, 2011 at 4:14 pm


    I really enjoyed reading your blog. I could not agree with you more that students must be organized to be successful. I have some many students (high school) that still need to be taught organization. It is somewhat painful for them to keep a simple notebook in order. Spreadsheets provide an excellent way to organize infomation. There are also many real world applications for these programs.



  4. Posted by Jackie Gerstein on March 22, 2011 at 5:22 pm

    You have a good personal connection and explanation of databases. Your lesson plan selection and explanation is fine, but I am wondering if and how they could be adapted for your music education?


    • The first lesson (what is a database) could be adapted to my classroom by the students answering a Higher Order Thinking (HOT) question like- What do you think Mozart’s Requiem would have sounded like (the same or different) if he had lived to finish it? and Do you think Mozart would be content with the way his student Sussymar finished his most famous musical work? The students could all post their answers to something simple like a Google doc, including the websites they used to write their answers.

      The second lesson, what is a graph, would be perfect for charting two things 1) how many minutes per day each member of their family listens to music and 2) what kinds of music each member listens to. This could be extended further into a shared document where each student enters the number of minutes they practiced per day.


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