Jan 17, 2017

NGPF Podcast: Tim Talks Spreadsheets with Educator Jeff Shirey of Avonworth Middle/High Schools (PA)



Thanks to Jeff Shirey of Avonworth Middle and High School (Pittsburgh, PA) for joining the NGPF podcast recently. In addition to being an accomplished salsa dancer outside the classroom (his living room has a dance floor), Jeff is a spreadsheet whiz inside the classroom. I became aware of Jeff’s work through this news story that focused on his passion for spreadsheets. Jeff shares his insights on favorite projects, how he introduces spreadsheets to his middle schoolers and how he differentiates instruction for his more advanced students. You will certainly walk away with some ideas on how to incorporate spreadsheets in your classroom. Enjoy!


  • 0:00~1:18 – Introduction
  • 1:18~4:10 – Jeff’s private sector experience
  • 4:10~5:13 – A little background on Avonworth Middle and High Schools in Pittsburgh
  • 5:13~6:05 – Uber self driving car test in Pittsburgh
  • 6:05~8:15 – Jeff’s passion for spreadsheets
  • 8:15~11:02 – Introducing spreadsheets to younger students
  • 11:02~12:30 – Training students to use Microsoft applications
  • 12:30~16:00 – Favorite projects: Long trip planning project
  • 16:00~16:24 – Word from our sponsor, Next Gen Personal Finance
  • 16:24~23:07 – Favorite activity: Stock portfolio competition
  • 23:07~24:49 – How did students perform with their stock picks?
  • 24:49~28:30 – Budgeting activity example
  • 28:30~29:24 – Individual or group projects? What works best with spreadsheets?
  • 29:24~31:40 – Differentiating instruction with advanced students
  • 31:40~35:15  – Stocks spreadsheet activity example
  • 35:15~36:06 – Advice to fellow teachers about spreadsheets
  • 36:06~38:03 -Spreadsheet concepts that students struggle with
  • 38:03~38:44 – Comparison of Excel vs. Google Sheets
  • 38:44~39:58 – Conclusion
Notable Quote:
  • “Anytime you can incorporate spreadsheets into your projects, that’s great.”


In case you are looking for more ideas, here’s an NGPF newsletter devoted to spreadsheets



About the Author

Tim Ranzetta

Tim's saving habits started at seven when a neighbor with a broken hip gave him a dog walking job. Her recovery, which took almost a year, resulted in Tim getting to know the bank tellers quite well (and accumulating a savings account balance of over $300!). His recent entrepreneurial adventures have included driving a shredding truck, analyzing executive compensation packages for Fortune 500 companies and helping families make better college financing decisions. After volunteering in 2010 to create and teach a personal finance program at Eastside College Prep in East Palo Alto, Tim saw firsthand the impact of an engaging and activity-based curriculum, which inspired him to start a new non-profit, Next Gen Personal Finance.

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