A Teacher's Quick Guide to Finding Excel Lesson Plans Blog Feature
Sarah Layton

By: Sarah Layton on June 29th, 2017

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A Teacher's Quick Guide to Finding Excel Lesson Plans

Computer Applications | Microsoft Excel | Microsoft Office

It's hard to teach Microsoft Excel to students — especially when they're in middle school. 

Microsoft Excel is a lot more complicated than Word, PowerPoint, and other Microsoft applications. 

Excel empowers students to do so much more than simply make spreadsheets. But you also don't want to overload students with so many options that they forget everything they learn. 

That's why you have to tread a fine line when you get Microsoft Excel lesson plans. It's crucial that you find the right lessons to use for your students' age and education level. 

Rather than spending hours upon hours creating your own Excel lesson plans, wouldn’t you like some that you can simply integrate into your existing computer applications curriculum?

It seems that there are a lot of lesson plans and ideas out there for teaching Excel, but many of them are outdated and hard to find if you don't have a lot of time. However, I managed to find a few Microsoft Excel projects, lessons, and resources that are pretty current. Here's a quick guide to some of the Excel lesson plans and activities I came across:

Microsoft Excel lesson plan, activity, and project ideas

Microsoft Excel Lesson Plans and Project Ideas

So you need Microsoft Excel lesson plans for middle school students? When putting lessons together for middle school students, it’s important to remember that though they probably have some basic knowledge of Excel or spreadsheets, there is still a lot they need to learn.

Where can you begin? Try starting with one of these resources:

GCF Learn Free

GCF Learn Free has some great lessons for Microsoft Office, including Excel, that you could assign to your students. There are videos and walkthroughs for many of the basics, each organized by what skill is being taught. You can look at their content here: GCF Learn Free Excel 2016 Tutorial

Teachers Pay Teachers

If you have never used Teachers Pay Teachers, this is the perfect time to look into it. It is a great resource if you have a little bit of time and don’t mind spending a few dollars. There are a number of Microsoft Excel lesson ideas on the site. It will take a little digging, but you might find one that you can add to your classroom.

Here’s a lesson I found on Teachers Pay Teachers that is a good exercise for middle school students to help them learn how to develop a monthly expense sheet to find "fun money." Too complex for your students? Keep digging!

Tonya Skinner's Website

Tonya Skinner is a high school business education teacher who also has a website dedicated to sharing lesson and activity ideas with other teachers. She has a page on her website specifically for computer applications, with a section on teaching about spreadsheets. Check them out here: Tonya Skinner's Lesson Plans and Activities for Spreadsheets

A Computer Curriculum with Built-In Microsoft Excel Projects

Want something  more comprehensive than a lesson here and a lesson there? To properly teach your students about Microsoft Excel, you need more than just some lessons thrown together. It's important to give your students activities and projects that reinforce the concepts and skills you are teaching. Try something like Business&ITCenter21 which has several fully developed modules that build on learning and knowledge including:

Read on to learn more about each of these modules for teaching Excel:

Microsoft Excel lesson plans

Microsoft Excel Fundamentals

This module is a great base for teaching students about Excel. It provides an overview of the fundamentals of Microsoft Excel, including rows and columns, selecting cells, entering formulas and functions, and formatting data and text. The module includes 2 units:

Unit: Introduction to Microsoft Excel - In this unit, students learn about Microsoft Excel basics such as rows and columns, entering text, Auto Fill, using absolute and relative cell references, and functions and formulas including conditional formulas.

Unit: Microsoft Excel Formatting - In this unit, students learn about using data and character formats to make a spreadsheet look great. They learn how to hide and unhide columns, change cell formats, merge cells, add cell borders, create headers and footers, and format text including conditional formatting.

Microsoft Excel Skills Project

This module provides a deeper understanding of Microsoft Excel as students complete several hands-on activities based around a scenario of helping a local sports club determine profits for their food stands. The module includes 4 units and an additional challenge activity:

Unit: Worksheet Data and Cells - In this unit, students learn about importing "raw" data and then formatting the data by adjusting column widths, wrapping text, aligning text, merging cells, formatting numbers and text, and adding borders and fill colors to cells.

Unit: Functions, Formulas and Tables - Students learn about inserting functions and formulas to determine gross and net profits as they review concepts such as the order of operations and relative/absolute cell references. They also learn about creating Excel tables, including adding total rows and columns.

Unit: Workbooks, Worksheets and Charts - In this unit, students learn about workbooks and worksheets as they copy data and worksheets from one workbook to another. Then they create pie, column, and line charts showing profit information.

Unit: What-If Analysis and Printing - In this unit, students will learn about What-If Analysis tools as they walk through a What-If analysis on the effect of loss of volunteers on net profit. Then they create a What-If analysis on how rent effects net profits. Students format and output information from Excel to a PDF file and a print-out.

Unit: Loan Calculation and Analysis - This bonus activity provides students with challenges to expand what they have learned by determining loan calculations and more What-If analyses.

Microsoft Excel Business Project

This project-based module provides students the opportunity to take on the role of an intern at a movie theater and update a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet to present financial income data for a meeting. The module includes 2 in-depth units as part of one large project:

Unit: Income Statement Project (Part 1) - In this unit students will learn about entering financial equations in an Excel spreadsheet, formatting the data, and graphing the net income results.

Unit: Income Statement Project (Part 2) - In this unit, students learn about analyzing options in Excel to determine which has the best result on gross profit, using this analysis to select the best option, and showing how it affects next year's net income for the movie theater.

Where do you go from here? Use a free Excel lesson plan!

I’ve shared some great Excel lesson plans, activities, and ideas for your computer applications classes.

But if you’re like most teachers, you don’t have a ton of time to look through all of those resources this second.

Don’t worry - I have a Microsoft Excel lesson plan you can use right now!

Get My Lesson Plan


About Sarah Layton

Sarah has been with AES since 1998, first serving as a curriculum developer, and now as a customer support analyst and content creator. She is committed to helping instructors gain experience and confidence using our solutions and to providing excellent customer care.