So I have some pretty cool kids in my Algebra 1 classes this year. They are eager to learn and are really digging the investigative approach I am trying to take with math this year. (Don’t get me wrong. I have plenty that are kicking and screaming the whole way but I am not going to let them bring me down right now.)
Anyway, I am trying to incorporate technology with chrome books (I am really lucky to have a classroom set this year!) and do things to make math a little more relevant and engaging. Again, they are digging it and are really doing well. I also use graphing calculators (TI-84s if you are a calculator person). The problem is, I don’t have a full class set and I don’t ask my kids to buy their own because it is not reasonable for many of my families and I don’t think our level of use justifies it yet.
So I am usually short a few calculators and I just have the kids pair up and work together. There are also a ton of calculator simulators and apps available. This is only a problem on test days. I am not “there” yet in regards to letting my kids use their devices for tests. I haven’t figured out how to monitor this and am afraid the temptation to cheat might be too strong.
So there’s the dilemma. I usually hope for kids to be absent so I don’t have to address the problems. Only this last time I had perfect attendance on test day! Can you believe it? What was I to do?
Everyone had a calculator (they brought their own, settled for TI 30SX, or got to the room 1st and grabbed a graphing calculator) except one guy. He is quiet and unassuming. But he is super cool and definitely an outside the box thinker. I really like him and know he is going to invent something awesome one day!
I have 2 TI-Inspires that I have gotten through a grant over the last two years. This calculator is awesome! It does more than you can ever imagine. Check it out here. I will wait..
Did you look? What did you think?
Overwhelming, right? Yeah… that’s how I feel too! I have had no time to learn all about it. So I hand the TI-Inspire to my new favorite student. I show him how to do the basics to take his test. After he finished, he tries to return it. Of course he finished early (and ACED IT!) so I tell him to play with the calculator for the rest of the class period. When the bell rings, he brings it to me with a big grin. He tells me that it is the coolest thing ever and gives me a quick run down of what he figured out.
This is where my judgment gets cloudy…
I dig out the manual (about 5000 pages of how to use this thing). I hand him the book and the calculator. I tell him he doesn’t have to read the book. He says I probably will anyway because I am just like that. I say figure it out and teach me. Bring me back something new everyday for the next week. He agrees.
And he floats out of the room with a big grin.
And then I think… He’ll bring it back, right?
And I know he will. But if he doesn’t, I know he will use it and become something big! That kid is going places and I am helping him along the way.
That is why I teach.