Review by Debbie Gorrell, Common Sense Education | Updated July 2014
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Numbers

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Organize and analyze data with gorgeous, customized spreadsheets

Subjects & skills
Skills
  • Character & SEL
  • Critical Thinking

Subjects
  • Math
Grades This grade range is a recommendation by Common Sense Education and not the developer/publisher.
6-12
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Pros: Sharing files and editing templates is relatively easy, and support is directly accessible from the app.

Cons: The number of features can be overwhelming, so most kids will need a lot of time to explore and learn before creating spreadsheets.

Bottom Line: Powerful, highly interactive tool teaches kids how to work with spreadsheets and display data.

Numbers could be used as part of a math unit about statistics, probability, or data display. One idea is to use it as a project-based assignment. Have small groups work together to collect data over a period of several days, and then customize a spreadsheet to display the data. Kids can then give a class presentation about their work and explain why they chose to display their data a certain way.  

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Numbers is a dynamic spreadsheet tool with a touchscreen interface and more than 30 easy-to-use templates. Students start by choosing a template from one of these categories: Basic, Personal Finance, Personal, Business, or Education. A blank spreadsheet allows them to essentially start from scratch, while other templates give them a specific starting point. For example, if students choose the Probability Lab template in the Education category, a data table, pie chart, and bar graph are already entered in the spreadsheet. Students can use tools to edit the data and change the formatting. By touching and dragging, they can reorder columns and rows and resize tables. Once the spreadsheets are finished, they can be saved and shared using iCloud, AirDrop, iMessage, email, or WebDAV.      

The app uses a free-form canvas approach that treats numbers and formulas as one of many data types found on a worksheet. Other data, like text and pictures, are treated equally when presented as charts, graphics, and an overall collection of data. Apple-designed templates are visually appealing and interact easily with other iOS productivity apps.

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When Numbers' excellent built-in coaching feature is turned on, annotations appear on-screen to help users navigate the screen and use certain features. A more detailed drop-down menu gives specific instructions for completing such tasks as adding and editing tables, entering formulas, organizing spreadsheets, and much more. With more than 250 available functions, students can tap, touch, and drag items on the free-form canvas to create customized spreadsheets that include images, charts, tables, text, and even animated data. By creating and customizing spreadsheets, students learn data analysis and presentation skills. They also learn mobile publishing and Cloud-based file management skills that easily transfer to other types of productivity apps. Since iCloud is built into the app, kids can easily share and update their work.  

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Overall Rating

Engagement Is the product stimulating, entertaining, and engrossing? Will kids want to return?

Creating spreadsheets with touchscreen features and beautiful graphics is a fun way to learn how to display data. 

Pedagogy Is learning content seamlessly baked-in, and do kids build conceptual understanding? Is the product adaptable and empowering? Will skills transfer?

Students work with a free-form canvas and explore editing features. By visualizing various data displays, they learn through experience how best to organize and present data. 

Support Does the product take into account learners of varying abilities, skill levels, and learning styles? Does it address both struggling and advanced students?

The coaching tips and help options are excellent resources. Audio options would help kids who struggle with reading a lot of text. 


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