Database as an educational tool by Cindy O'Hora

One challenge in integrating technology into the classroom is having a vision of, "What can this do for my students?".

I've shown you several ways to use database to manage your classroom and professional life. Here is a super way to get your students using database. Today, I downloaded a set of education database templates made in ClarisWorks. There was a class database (demographic data) and a library book managing database.

One file, in particular, caught my eye. It was called Insect database.

Nanette Luoma created a super database for her students to use. She has the students enter the basic facts of their work into a class database as part of the project. There are fourteen fields of data requested which include straight forward items like insect group and wings, to habitat and interaction with people.

There were additional layouts in the database which offered research worksheets, information source sheets, and a glossary of terms.

Once the database is filled with information students could compute data based on numeric information or Sort for fields like: winged as adults.

pencil pointing rightOkay, Cindy, this is nice but I don't do insects. Here are some ideas right off the tip of my fingers.



Famous People of your state - biography


Famous Artists or Writers - biography

Habitats or Biomes

Historic Events

Elements of the Periodic Table

Countries of the world report

Organs and/or body parts

US State facts report

Animals of the rain forest

Native American tribes

Endangered Animals

Inventors or Inventions


Vocabulary words - class dictionary


Creative writing done in class.

Books I've read this school year


You already give the assignment expectations in a database like format.

Heroes : Date of Birth, place of birth, gender, education, trials and tough times, successes, what are they famous for doing, date of the report and author.

State facts: Capitol, size, State symbols (tree, bird, flower), Governor, population, 2 famous people from that state, resources, and outstanding geographic features.


To bring the database into the project, all you need to do is create a database with a field for each fact you expect the students to give. Sometimes it will be to your advantage to have a pop-up menu for younger students to enter information like endangered vrs non endangered.

Have the students use the Find feature to retrieve their record when they return to enter more data.

Every student will benefit from the experience of entering into a database.

  • They'll learn database navigation
  • They'll be exposed to ways of organizing data
  • They'll gain a basic understanding of what a database can do.
    • Show them how to Sort alphabetically
    • Use a formula to find the occurrence of a single piece of data in the whole database. (How many states have the Cardinal for the state bird? How many heroes are women?)

pencilAnother Integration idea is to provide record keeping.

 small gold star Word of the day or vocabulary -

Doing a vocabulary building activity? Have the students enter the words, parts of speech, definitions and example sentences in a database. At the end of the year they can use Save As to change the database to dif format. Then let them take it home for future use. Most database programs can open a dif formatted file. At the end of the unit or year, they can marvel at all the new words they know.

Use the database to build a multimedia game for the class to engage for reviewing a unit, reinforcing key concepts or in the last week of school.

Post it online game version | Templates | PowerPoint Educational Game Links | MYO How To


Class Creative writing - Create fields for: Title, author, date of writing, kind of writing (expository, poetry, biography, essay, short story), and fiction vrs nonfiction (pop-up menu!). Make a special added layout within the database which reports a student's individual writing for the year.

  1. Use Find to isolate a single student from the whole class database.
  2. Switch to the teacher entry layout to add their grades for the assignments. (At the bottom of the Layout menu.)
  3. Switch to the special student report layout and print a list of their writing work for the year. It could be very handy at your next parent/teacher conference! It might even be a meaningful addition to a portfolio or report card. It certainly would be an interesting end of the class gift to your student.
  4. Use the database in a teacher layout that includes grades to review the writing units for the year. Which were most effective? Are you covering each form of writing adequately? Are the lessons aligned to the standards? Have you covered all the standards?


Reading database! Have your students enter each book they read this school year. Have them rate the book. Document the reading enrichment the students elected to do.

  1. Use Find to isolate a single student from the whole class database.
  2. Switch to the annual report layout to print an individual student's report. It includes a summary field of the number of pages the student has read.
  3. Sort by author. Write as fractions the number of students who read a single author or book. Or use the data to make charts/graphs. Discuss with the class their favorite authors.
  4. Have a reading race. Who has read the most books? Pages? Authors?
  5. Review each student's progress with them through the year. Gove them the BIG picture of their reading.


Simply delightful survey:

I utilized a database to conduct a survey for favorite book with several hundred students. In addition to the winner, I was able to show: the boy's favorite, the girl's favorite, the favorite by grade and even by specific class. I exported the collected data into a spreadsheet. I then made bar graphs and pie charts for student consideration.

Graduation Projects and database perfect together!

Here are some more ideas and lesson plans which present or use databases from the North Carolina Public Schools.

He who really wants to do something, finds a way.
He who doesn't; finds an excuse. S Ross

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©1998 Cynthia O'Hora All rights reserved. Posted 5/25/1998 updated 4/2008

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