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Multiplication Tables Using Microsoft Excel Lesson Plan

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Lesson Plan #: AELP-EDT0206
Submitted by: Gwen Hennessey
Email: ghennessey@somerset.k12.wi.us
School/University/Affiliation: Somerset Middle School, WI

May 14, 2002

Grade Level: 6, 7, 8, 9


  • Computer Science
  • Mathematics/Arithmetic

Duration: Three 40-minute sessions

Description: This lesson is a multi-part learning activity designed to introduce students to Microsoft Excel as a computer application software program. In this activity, students will create multiplication tables in Microsoft Excel. This exercise can be done in small groups to prevent students from getting frustrated with the new concepts.

Goals: Wisconsin Model Academic Standards :

Standards for Marketing:

  • H.8.4 – Examine databases and spreadsheets and describe how they can be used by consumers and businesses.

Standards for English Language Arts:

  • E.8.1 – Use computers to acquire, organize, analyze, and communicate information.
  • E.8.2 – Make informed judgments about media and products.

Standards for Business:

  • B.8.7 – Use spreadsheet software to create, store, retrieve, update, and delete data.
  • B.BS.4 – Explain how information systems have contributed to worker productivity.


  • Students will be able to create a multiplication table using Microsoft Excel.
  • Students will be able to create an inverted multiplication table using Microsoft Excel.
  • Students will be able to explain the $ (anchor) function in Microsoft Excel.
  • Materials:


  • formula – A series of characters that performs mathematical functions. A feature of Microsoft Excel that allows reference between cells for calculation.
  • spreadsheet – A tool used to assist in data entry, recording, and manipulating data/calculations.
  • Procedure:
    Introduce students to the concept of spreadsheets by explaining why a spreadsheet looks different from a Word document. Compare Excel to Word; the menus work in a similar manner. Practice referring to various cells with the cursor: A3, B5, C8, etc.

    In the first session, assign Exercise #1: Building a Multiplication Table. The instructions provide the formulas, so this first activity will focus on transferring knowledge and experience students have from using word processing functions to applying similar functions in a spreadsheet environment. As a debrief and review, explore the creation of formulas:

    • What does the “=” sign do?
    • The multiplication symbol is “*” and the division symbol is “/”.
    • Explore how the “$” becomes an anchor as we copy formulas to other cells in the spreadsheet.

    In the second session, assign Exercise #2: Building Formulas (inverting the multiplication table by creating formulas). Let students problem solve the “$” function; they will learn from each other as they experiment with accurate placement. As a debrief and review, ask students how many formulas were required (only 3 for the second activity) and discuss what they learned about the use of the “$”.

    In the third session, assign Exercise #3: The Ultimate Challenge. Students will apply the concepts previously learned, including setting the print area and using only eight formulas. They will struggle to understand why they don’t need more than eight formulas; again, guide them, but let them find the answer. (A key for the teacher is provided in the Multiplication Table Exercises.)

    As a debrief, talk about the critical thinking aspects of this series of activities and how working smart will save time on school projects (and later the job). Ask students how critical thinking, planning, and the use of technology (in this case, the formulas) can make them more efficient. [ Author’s Note: Each activity broadens students’ exposure to spreadsheet capabilities. At first students will resist the use of formulas and try to enter all the numbers of the multiplication table manually. A key learning point is when they realize that one quick “copy” function can make them much more efficient.]

    Assessment: Teachers can use the Rubric (see Materials ) to assess students’ completion of the activities.

    Useful Internet Resource:
    * Wisconsin Model Academic Standards

    Special Comments: I initially thought this would be a difficult unit for my 8th grade students; however, I have found if you give them a brief intro, they really take off (while having fun) in discovering this software package. They can quickly learn how to use it very independently.