View: Next message | Previous More Hitsmessage Next in topic | Previous More Hitsin topic Next by same author | Previous More Hitsby same author Previous page (October 1999) | Back to main LRNASST-L page Join or leave LRNASST-L (or change settings) Reply | Post a new message Search Log in Options: Chronologically | Most recent first Proportional font | Non-proportional font

Subject:

Re: Graphing Calculators

From:

Date:

Wed, 27 Oct 1999 11:09:04 -0500

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

 text/plain (67 lines)
 ```I am surprised at the negative number of comments regarding using calculators in mathematics. I have had success with them in the past while teaching and now that my job focuses on one-on-one tutoring or small groups help, I find them even more useful. To give this some context, I am not working with students below the precalculus level. Yes, many of them show up here with their own calculators. But I am truly amazed at how little they are able to actually use them. Many students have said, "I prefer doing it by hand" only because they do not know the keystrokes. Once they are shown the menus on the calculator, they slowly begin to use the calculator more for checking their answers and then they do things by hand to check the calculator. They definitely get more confident as they get more comfortable. I have also found that the students' knowledge of the symbols of mathematics increases when using a calculator. Math is a second language and the grammar is a pup. For the calculator to do what you want, you have to be accurate. Yes, it is frustrating at first but nothing drives home the point of order of operations more than a couple of examples done out of order. Having an accurate graph in front of you also does wonders for understanding what domain and range and relative maximum and minimum really mean. I have found students' understanding of concepts like those increase as we talk about what the calculator is showing us. Great, you got a graph but what is going on there? They hate the question at first because getting the graph used to be the goal. The minute the graph is used to explain something else, the calculator becomes more valuable. The words 'rough sketch' drove me nuts because my idea of rough wasn't the same as everybody elses. Graphing calculators eliminate a lot of ambiguity. Having said all that... 1. How much class time must be set aside to teach keystrokes? Significant. The students won't use it unless they know how. More than half the students won't know where their manual is. If a new method is being introduced, be sure to tell the students what the key sequence is. I have written up handouts showing step by step how to calculate one-variable statistics, for example. The students are welcome to the handouts or they can go to the Math Center website for reference when they need it at 2 a.m. The missing manual is no longer an excuse. And they are thrilled when they no longer have to compute a standard deviation by hand. 2. Do you require that each student buy a calculator, or do you just use one in class for demonstrations? Most students already have them but yes, they are required. A lot of students time share their calculators with their roommates or floormates. A lot of calculators also get sold to other students at the end of semesters. 3. Has use of calculators increased pass rates, retention rates or anything else? Any negative effects? Sorry, no info. 4. What degree of interest have your students shown in graphing calculators? Again, their interest increases as they get more comfortable just manipulating it. And asking them to describe what they see on the screen "like you would to your mother" really works. They have to pick the graph apart, or the equation, and really analyze what is going on. Sorry this got to be so long. Andrea Motyka Director of Math Center Washington College Chestertown, MD 21620 410.778.7862```