The “360 spreadsheet” for teachers and educators

We first heard of the 360 spreadsheet from the book Hacking Education: 10 Quick Fixes for Every School by Barnes and Gonzalez. This post* (and more to come) will cover how spreadsheets can be a tool for those with a love of teaching, learning, and inspiring others.

A 360 spreadsheet is a simple tool that provides teachers with a more complete, “360 degree” view of each student. Basically, it allows them to get to know their students on a deeper level, all in one place. We created a slightly enhanced version of the 360 spreadsheet in Google Sheets, which has many benefits. We’ll show you how we added new features to this spreadsheet, which you can download below. 

In its simplest form, a 360 spreadsheet typically includes each student’s name along with other data such as their family, passions, and activities, as Barnes and Gonzalez suggest. We at thought it could be helpful to add a feature to this spreadsheet. In the image below, look for the yellow arrow above the right-most column called “Needs Attention”.

How does it work? If there’s a data category that deserves more attention than others for a given student, you select it from the drop-down box and that data is automatically highlighted in red. The benefit? Once you do it for your entire class, you can quickly glance at your spreadsheet to immediately know what you need to focus on for each student. So, this spreadsheet not only organizes all the data for your students, it becomes a map that lets you know what to focus on.

To build this feature, we use data validation and conditional formatting. With data validation, you click on a cell and it opens up a list of options. In our case, you can select which data category required the most attention for each student. Then, we set up a rule using the conditional formatting feature, which highlights the relevant data in red based on the selected category.

Of course, there are MANY other ways we can customize this spreadsheet, depending on how you intend to use the data. That’s the beauty of learning the fundamentals of spreadsheets – it offers you the flexibility to tailor solutions based on your goals and needs!

You can find our version of the 360 spreadsheet here: 360 spreadsheet. You’ll notice that when you open the spreadsheet, you’ll initially be in “view-only” mode, and the data validation feature will NOT appear. If you’d like to see the data validation feature and/or tinker and edit this spreadsheet, first sign into your Google account and save a copy of it on your Google drive.

How do you use the 360 spreadsheet? What other features would you find helpful in a 360 spreadsheet? 


*My very good friend recently asked me who the target audience is for posts and videos. True enough, our content is quite varied, spanning the gamut from sports and games to topics like decision-making and college admission tracking. So who did we create our site and videos for? We believe this is for anyone who wants to discover how spreadsheets can solve your problems, improve your thinking, and inspire creativity.