Monday, September 10, 2012
Graphing Calcualtor Cheat Sheet
Here in the great state of Texas, Algebra I for all has been a mantra for the last fifteen years or so. When we first started down this road of requiring Algebra I for HS graduation (and now algebra II), many of us wondered how we would ever get some of our students to pass Algebra I. We were told that the graphing calculator would be the great equalizer and allow us to teach Algebra concepts to students who were behind mathematically.
I'm not going to get into my views about the role of the graphing calculator in Algebra I. Like any tool, it can be used to help or hinder mathematical maturity depending on the teacher. I try to take a balanced approach and teach everything by hand and then on the calculator. This enables my 9th graders to be very proficient with the basic capabilities of the calculator by the time they finish Algebra I and increases their chances of success on our state End of Course Exam.
In my old school where we had a student population that was over 70% economically disadvantaged and about 60% of my students had failed their 8th grade state math exam, we gave out calculators the 2nd day of school and never looked back.
In my new school, which is only about 30% economically disadvantaged, we teach our first unit (functions) without the calculator and then begin to use them in our 2nd unit (Solving Equations).
On the first day of using the calculator, I pass out this cheat sheet and let them play around with the buttons while I go over some of the basic features. This cheat sheet pretty much covers most of the basic features that we will use in the first semester. The students are expected to keep this cheat sheet all year in the Reference Section of their binder along with their formula charts and other important information I give them.
Here it is if you'd like a copy.