Volcano Spreadsheet and Graph (Math portion of an integrated unit)

Kathryn Pishl
Math/Science 4th grade


Content Area Objectives Addressed:

SWBAT find the height of selected volcanoes and convert their measurements to feet.

SWBAT interpret information from a graph.

SWBAT write math questions that require the use of a class created graph.

SWBAT Use a graph to answer math word problems.


Technology Objectives Addressed:

SWB introduced to a spreadsheet and its graphing capabilities.

SWBAT enter information into a teacher created spreadsheet.

SWBAT work with a partner and in a small group to find information from a bookmarked website.

SW observe how to create a graph from a spreadsheet and will participate in deciding an appropriate graph to represent the data.


Activity Description

            What was the process that your students went through to complete this lesson? 

Volcano Research
Volcano Math Activity Sheet

Volcano Math

Day 1 – math (25 min):  The students and teacher discussed what type of information about volcanoes would be appropriate to graph.  They discussed what kind of questions could be asked of a graph.  Together, they brainstormed a list of information that they could use.  The teacher typed up an activity sheet from the list of information students felt could be graphed.

Day 2 – science (45 min.):  Students were divided into teams and assigned 2 or 3 volcanoes from the Cascade Range.  Each student received a copy of the activity sheet and each was required to complete it with the assistance of the group.  Students were to find information from an interactive Image Map bookmarked on the computer.


Day 3 – math (30 min.):  The class engaged in a whole class discussion about how the information could be put into a graph and determined that we needed to have like information.  For example, our graph was about comparing heights of volcanoes.  Some students had their information recorded in feet, while other had their information recorded in meters.  We decided that all the information need to be in feet, since that was the most common measurement in the class. 

            Students were asked to go to the computers and use a conversion table bookmarked on the Internet to change their measurements of meters to feet. 


Day 4 – science (45 min.): The whole class reviewed how to enter information into a spreadsheet.  Each group rotated through the computer with the teacher-designed spreadsheet and entered their information.  Within the group, students were to take turns entering information so everyone would have an opportunity to use the computer.  As a group they decided the best way to divide the work.

Day 5 – math (45 min.):  Using the Infocus projector, the teacher showed students how to make a graph from the information that had been entered into the computer.  Students looked at the types of graphs that were available and decided which type best displayed the information.  The teacher printed a graph for each group.  Each group was assigned to generate a math question about the graph.  One participant was designated the writer for the group and wrote the question.  Using the writing process, students were asked to edit the question for clarity, grammar and spelling then make a final copy.  The teacher provided an activity sheet for the assignment.

Day 6 – math (20 min.):  Students answered the math questions in an activity sheet developed from the questions that were submitted from the students.


How did you monitor student progress?


During the computer time the students were observed to determine if they were on task or having problems finding information.  As students worked in groups, I moved around the classroom and observed conversations.  I also assessed all of the activity sheets for accuracy, following directions and completeness.            


Was there a template or an example that students were expected to follow?

Students had activity sheets to help them complete assignments appropriately.  The Excel spreadsheet was teacher created also.  (See attached copies.)


            How much time did you dedicate to this project?

                        Daily (approximate)  We spent approximately 25-45 minutes per day to complete this activity.  During that time students were rotating through computers and working on other assignments in the math and science content areas.

                        Total Approximately 3 ½ hours total time


            How was the final product presented?


Students received a copy of the graph from the whole class discussion and were given a copy of the class questions to answer.


Who was the audience for the final product?


The students were the audience for the product of this activity.


Learning Issues


What prior knowledge was required on the part of the students in order for them to be successful in this project? (include curriculum and technology knowledge)


Curriculum:  Students needed to have prior experience with graphs.  Students needed to have practiced drawing their own graphs and answering math questions regarding a graph. 

Technology:  Students needed to know how to access the Internet and find a web site using a bookmark.  Students need to know how to open a program.  Students needed to be familiar with entering data into a spreadsheet.


Resource Management

            What was the student to computer ratio? 

4 students to each computer

5 computers

How did you schedule your students’ computer time?

Students rotated through the computers as a center during regular class time.  The rest of the class was participating in  other curriculum related centers.

What was the location of the computers and other technology equipment used by students?

The computers are at the front of the classroom.

            How would you suggest beginning teachers obtain computer resources for their students? (Knowing some of your strategies would be valuable for our pre-service teachers.)

I find it is important to do the best with what you have.  Learn all you CAN do with what you have.  Too many times I see 1 or 2 computers going to waste in a classroom because teachers don’t use what they have.  It’s hard to convince administration and the public you need more resources if you aren’t using what you have.  When you prove yourself in that way you can begin to propose projects to the principal or technology coordinator.  Be willing to participate in technology committees.  Be willing to help with fundraisers.  Most important, Share what you do with others.  When people in leadership roles see your commitment and willingness to share with others you may find it easier to get additional resources.


Rate the level of access for students to use computers/other technologies as they needed  --high, medium, low



Rate the level of supervision required for students during the project, specifically for computer and other technology use –high, medium, low





What hardware was required for your project?

Infocus Projector, 5 computer work stations with internet access


What software was required for your project?

Excel, Word

            Anything else?

Teacher created activity sheets and spreadsheet



            What kind of assessment did you use for this project? (Include a copy if you can.)

Students were assessed for their accuracy, completeness and following directions on the activity sheets.


What categories did you assess? (I.e.:  content, screen design, depth/breadth, etc.)

They were assessed in math and language. They were assessed for their accuracy, completeness and following directions on the activity sheets. Students were generally assessed for their technology knowledge through observation.




How does the product that you submitted compare with other students’ products for this same project?

It has always been interesting to me that graphing and finding information from a graph is difficult for many of the 4th grade students.  I have had students draw graphs and write questions before but the outcome was very different.  I think students high interest level due to technology helped them internalize the concepts of a graph.  The results of the unit test this year were much better than last year.  The only difference in teaching was the addition of the computer.  The questions were much higher level.

            What did you like best about this project?

I enjoyed seeing the students so enthusiastic about what they were doing.  Everyone wanted to participate.

            What did the students like best about this project?

The students liked finding the information and they liked seeing the computer turn their work into a graph.

            Rank the level of student involvement in this project –high, medium, low

Student involvement was high in this activity.

            Rank the level of student interest in this project –high, medium, low

Student interest was high in this activity.

            Would you teach this lesson again?

Yes, I would definitely teach this lesson again.  I would also expand it to include the students creating their own graphs from the same spreadsheet using different information.  They could graph number of volcanoes per state or the types of volcanoes in the Cascade Range.











Volcano Research


Group Participants:  __________________     ___________________


                                      _______________________     ________________________      


Answer these questions for each volcano. Use the book marked website to find the information.


Name of volcano:


State where it is found:


Height in feet:


Type of volcano: (cinder cone, shield, composite)


Date of last eruption:



Name of volcano:


State where it is found:


Height in feet:


Type of volcano: (cinder cone, shield, composite)


Date of last eruption:



Name of volcano:


State where it is found:


Height in feet:


Type of volcano: (cinder cone, shield, composite)


Date of last eruption:












# _______                                              Name  ____________________


Volcano Math Activity Sheet


Show your work and write a complete sentence to answer each question.


1.      What is the combined height of all the volcanoes put together?



2.    By rounding to the nearest feet, what’s the average of the three shortest volcanoes?



3.    How many times can Mount Bachelor go into Mount St. Helens?



4.    What is the average height of the five tallest volcanoes?



5.    How much taller is Mt. St. Helens than Three Fingered Jack?



6.    What is the average height of all the Cascade Range Volcanoes put together?



7.    What is the combined height of the four tallest volcanoes?












Volcano Math


Group Participants

__________________________________     ____________________________________


__________________________________     ____________________________________


Directions:  Look at the graph.  As a group, decide on a question you could ask about the information presented in the graph.  The question should require addition, subtraction, multiplication or division to find the solution.


1st draft:  ________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Reread your question then make any changes necessary to make the question clearer.  Be sure to proofread your final question.  Check for misspellings, appropriate capital letters and correct punctuation.

Final draft: