# Videotext & Graphing Calculator - ? for JFS & Linda

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Warning: Complete ignorance display coming!

Both of you mentioned calculators in regard to Videotext: JFS said VT doesn't use calculators, which surprised me, as my son has used one in solving the problems, and nowhere did it say not to... Then Linda said something about using a graphing calculator in Module B, and it occurred to me that JFS might have been talking about something other than just speeding the process by doing the more complicated arithmetic calculations with a calculator.

I should add that we're just finishing Unit IX which has a lot of graphing of conic sections. I've heard people say that learning to use a graphing calculator is helpful for SATs.

My questions: Would other Algebra 2 programs have the student use a calculator for a problem like 'graph the solution set for y=-x(sqrd) - 2x? Does that mean they wouldn't learn how to solve it themselves as my son has been painstakingly doing all this time? Should I make sure he learns how to use one for the time advantage in the SAT? (He's not a fast tester under the best of circumstances.)

TIA!

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Gee...we're in Algebra I, but...my son's friends in the school system are taught to use the calculator, and I'd certainly encourage you to see if your son finds the calculator easier to use...Like you, I start with making sure that my son understands and can do the work without the calculator; then, poof. For example, I remember figuring out square roots by hand--now, why not use the calculator to do it instantaneously?

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This is John, the mere high school sophomore (meaning wise fool) who used VideoText as an 8th grader. I did not use a calculator! I managed to pass the course without one, and for me, it is easier to understand algebra now. Believe me, in the long run, it will e better to use VideoText without the help of a calculator. In my opinion, the only time you really need a calculator would be much further in Algebra II, when one starts dealing with parabolas and conic shapes. Your kid is going to hate me, but take the calculator away. You will thank me later.

The above is from the person who actually used Videotest, not the evil mom who bought it and made the kid use it. JFS :001_smile:

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John wants me to add that the type of calculator required by schools (John is now at public school) the kids can download games (!!!) for them and in his current math class he sees many kids playing games instead of working. He also said after VT it was not hard at all to understand how to use a calculator.

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My son's not using the graphing calculator yet, but I can see where I might want to teach him to use it...I'll have to consider your John's words (as opposed to my 8th grade John..)

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In my opinion, the only time you really need a calculator would be much further in Algebra II, when one starts dealing with parabolas and conic shapes.

Presumably, you don't "need" it even then. We just finished the conic sections unit without using a graphing calculator. We've only got nine more lessons to finish the whole thing, so hopefully, having come this far without using it, we'll soldier on! (Easy for me to say, I guess...)

Thanks for the input!

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From Videotext FAQ website section (I knew I had read this somewhere!!!)

Q. Do you use graphing calculators in your course?

A. Our main goal in Algebra is to help students develop analytical thinking skills. The reason we have such an emphasis in our program on having students work out every step to each problem is precisely to develop these skills. We know that in many of the programâ€™s earlier exercises, students can actually work problems mentally, faster than using the prescribed analysis procedure. However, if we condoned this, we would be robbing students of the exercise that will make the brain stronger. (And, additionally, three months later, when they arrive at problems that are too difficult to complete mentally, they will have no recognizable strategy for solving the problem, at least not in an efficient way.)

So what does this have to do with graphing calculators? Throughout our course we avoid rules, shortcuts, tricks, formulas, and tools like calculators. If we use these things to derive the answers to exercises, we actually shortcut the "exercise-of-the-brain" process and hinder the development of intellectual strength. We know that students may eventually be required to use the graphing calculator, but if they really understand the concepts, they will have the ability to read a user's guide for any brand of calculator, and easily learn how to operate it to do the things electronically that they have become logically proficient at, mentally. We hope this gives you a sense of the philosophy behind our course. Our goal is NOT necessarily to develop students into great Algebra problem solvers, even though that will happen with our course. Our true goal is to develop them into great thinkers, so that they can improve in all areas of their life! Of course, students may still want to learn how to operate a graphing calculator, but we would not recommend allowing them to use one in the actual course until they can prove to you that they don't really need one to do their work.

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My ds did VT Algebra, the whole series, without a calculator. I think it helped him understand the concepts better and deeper in the long-run!

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