When the new TI Nspire calculators arrived on a Wednesday afternoon during the third week of school, I decided to stay at school late to unpack them and charge them up so that we could use them the following day. These are some of the initial reactions from students as “tight!” “These are so cool!” and “Miss these are great!” Not only do these new handhelds have a color screen, advanced graphing capabilities and rechargeable batteries, they are connected wirelessly through the Navigator system which allows the teacher to send questions to all students, check answers and use activities from the Nspire website almost like using laptops!
These new calculators have seven applications: calculator, graphs, geometry, lists and spreadsheets, data & statistics, notes and Vernier Data Quest (ability to use sensors and motion detectors to collect data). While the previous generation of graphing calculators had some of these functions, the Nspires have a mouse which can be used to drag graphs, move sliders, and draw using a geometry sketchpad in a much easier to use format. Here are some screenshots of activities we have done and will do this year.
This activity is about translations and reflections. Students can use the sliders to move the triangle vertically and horizontally noticing the change in coordinates.
In this screen students can reflect the triangle across the x or y axis or both using sliders and see the change in coordinates.
In a future activity, students will explore equations of circles interactively.
Images can be used as a basis for finding equations. Here are some fun examples:
These new calculators are not a replacement for student learning, rather they are a support. They make learning math more fun and allow students to access the higher level concepts more quickly. With this new technology, the possibilities for increased student engagement and growth are endless.