boymama Posted March 16, 2013 Share Posted March 16, 2013 I have a rising 9th grader and I haven't let him use a calculator yet. But, I am aware that in his life time he will always have access to calculators on the technology that he uses, ipod, etc. I just know that when they start to use them, it will forever be a crutch. Also, don't they need the fancy calculator for Algebra? You can tell I haven't gone there yet! :crying: thanks in advance Quote Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...

Jean in Newcastle Posted March 16, 2013 Share Posted March 16, 2013 If he knows his basic facts down cold, it will be much faster for him to use his memory rather than a calculator. I don't think you need to worry about the calculator becoming a crutch. In ds' Algebra I book they used the calculator for only specific lessons which were marked as such. Quote Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...

Dana Posted March 16, 2013 Share Posted March 16, 2013 I started letting my son use a calculator at age 9 with some of the Singapore Challenging Word Problems. I did it so he'd be more comfortable with it when it was allowed on the Explore exam. If the problem is basic computation, he can't use it. If the problem is checking problem solving, I'm willing to let him use the calculator so a computation error doesn't mess up the whole problem. So, with the CWP, if it's in the challenge section he can often use the calculator. For high school courses and some college courses, the TI-84 is currently the calculator of choice in many places. That's changing some now with the N-spire (also TI). Graphing calculators are cool because of some of the investigation they allow students to do. The drawback is that these calculators most often aren't used effectively. Our cc has a graphing calculator as a requirement on the departmental syllabus in Intermediate Algebra. I don't require it when I teach because I think everything in that course can and should be done with at most a standard calculator. But in later courses they want students to have some familiarity with graphing functions on the calculator and using some of the features (calculate intercepts, points of intersection). I expect I'll let my son use a graphing calculator on occasion in high school (show him how to do certain things on mine), but I don't think I'd get him his own until calculus...or maybe when he went to college and got whatever was required there. So I'd get the TI-30XIIS (specific model...two line calculator so you can see what was typed) to get him familiar with notation on the calculator, but I'd only allow its use on word problems and if a decimal approximation is needed (like with finding approximations from the quadratic formula or playing with calculator entry for radicals). Quote Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...

kiana Posted March 16, 2013 Share Posted March 16, 2013 A calculator should be used when doing some word problems, especially ones where the answer ought to be measurable. For example, if I need to know "how many feet long should I make my garden?" an answer like "The square root of ten" is not especially useful and a decimal approximation should be given instead. However, the work should be done symbolically and the calculator used at the last step. A scientific calculator should suffice here. Evaluating logarithms/exponentials/trig functions at non-exact values (for example, sine of 14.3 degrees) is another place where a scientific calculator is very useful. Many books will have specific problems marked as 'use a calculator'. Assuming you use one of those, I would just allow the calculator usage on those and disallow on others. Quote Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...

MyThreeSons Posted March 16, 2013 Share Posted March 16, 2013 My rule of thumb is this: my guys needed to be able to do the basic operations by hand (or in their heads). As we got into Algebra or so, I wanted them to put their mental energies into doing the new math they were learning, rather than doing the arithmetic operations. So, I began to let them use a calculator, with the following condition: they needed to do an estimate before punching in the numbers, so that they could check their calculator answer for reasonableness. It is too easy to hit a wrong number or operator, or forget to put something in parentheses. I emphasize this in my Geometry and Physics classes at co-op as well. I can almost always get a "ball-park" answer to the problem on the whiteboard more quickly than the students can punch it into their calculators. And if they give me an answer that doesn't make sense on either homework or a test question, I take off double points. Quote Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...

Beth S Posted March 16, 2013 Share Posted March 16, 2013 The graphing calculator is a HUGE advantage when taking the PSAT, ACT and SAT. Our goal is to have the child proficient on the TI-84 Plus Silver about 6 months before the first test. I'd ballpark that we allow regular calculator usage in Algebra I. The graphing calculator is a requirement for pre-Calc or so, I believe. Quote Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...

caroljenn Posted March 16, 2013 Share Posted March 16, 2013 We bought my dd a Ti-84 Silver Edition and she's in Algebra 2. We bought the one that she is allowed to use on the SAT. Quote Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...

regentrude Posted March 16, 2013 Share Posted March 16, 2013 My students have not had a need to use a calculator in math until calculus, except for the occasional problem where use was specifically permitted. They have been using calculators for computations in their high school physics and chemistry courses. We use a math curriculum where the problems are well designed and can be solved without; often, using a calculator would completely miss the learning objective (such as applying the laws of exponents in algebra, or laws about trigonometric functions in precalculus.) DD will learn how to use a graphing calculator this summer; if a student plans on taking AP Calc, the use of a graphing calculator is a must, as some problems test precisely this. The student should be familiar with using a simple scientific calculator before standardized testing. While all problems on the ACT and SAT can be solved without a calculator, judicious use of a calculator can save time, which is very important on a timed test. But even there, judicious is the key word: the student needs to recognize which problems benefit form calculator use (few!) and which are faster by hand (most!). As a physics instructor at a university, I see every week how calculator dependent most students are. They lack the number sense to make quick estimates and see ways to simplify their answers, they fail to recognize when the answer the calculator gave them must be nonsense, and they are making mistakes with simple calculations on their math and physics tests where no calculators are allowed, because they are lacking routine in manipulating simple integers. It is rather disturbing, especially since these are STEM students who should be all rather good at math. I don't even want to think how bad it is with the weak math students... Quote Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...

mom2bee Posted March 16, 2013 Share Posted March 16, 2013 Even in the colleges and universities, many times we weren't allowed to use the calculator. I'm taking Calculus 3 and Linear Algebra, neither class allows calculators. Though the work can be done with calculators. At my CC, the school was in cahoots with Texas Instruments so calculators are 'required' and encouraged, but every teacher I had ALSO made us learn to do it by hand and put the scratch work and arithmetic on the test page/paper for arithmetic. The only class where we were genuinely allowed and expected to use a calculator was in Statistics, but my teacher was clearly nostalgic for 'the olden days' when they used charts of Z-tables, T-tables and some sort of thing on a wheel with spinning slips to calculate stuff. (That's what he described to us, but I may have misunderstood him, anyone know what he could've been talking about? Quote Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...

Julie in MN Posted March 16, 2013 Share Posted March 16, 2013 My students have not had a need to use a calculator in math until calculus, Same at our house. My son is in college precalc and still doesn't have one of those fancy calculators. He used a $2 mini calculator for fast computation in a few math team things, but basically he's never used a calculator with Singapore Primary, with algebra 1 & 2, with geometry, with college algebra 3, or with precalculus. Well, I don't mean he's never seen an advanced calculator, because we have an old one from big brother (11 years older) that he tried when the $2 one needed batteries, he's borrowed one during a class, & can look up something online, but basically never relied on one. One time the help desk for Spectrum Chemistry told him how to solve a problem assuming he'd use a calculator, and he said he wanted to know what he was doing, not how to plug something into a calculator. But now I'm thinking we should get one of those $100+ calculators for his ACT... Julie Quote Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...

mom2bee Posted March 16, 2013 Share Posted March 16, 2013 But now I'm thinking we should get one of those $100+ calculators for his ACT... Julie It needn't cost $100+. Look into the Casio brand of calculators. I don't have one, but I wish I'd known about them before I blindly plunked down $100+ for a TI. I love my TI, but I could have learned to love a Casio, just as well... Look into what type of Calculator you are allowed to have for the ACT. If your son can do the majority of his graphing and calculating without the calculator, I wouldn't stress too much about the ACT... Quote Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...

regentrude Posted March 16, 2013 Share Posted March 16, 2013 But now I'm thinking we should get one of those $100+ calculators for his ACT... What for? The problems for which a calculator is useful on the ACT are simple computations (after all, all problems are solvable without!) - a $10 scientific calculator will suffice just fine. You don't really need a graphing calculator for the ACT. Quote Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...

Julie in MN Posted March 16, 2013 Share Posted March 16, 2013 It needn't cost $100+. Look into the Casio brand of calculators. I don't have one, but I wish I'd known about them before I blindly plunked down $100+ for a TI. I love my TI, but I could have learned to love a Casio, just as well... Look into what type of Calculator you are allowed to have for the ACT. If your son can do the majority of his graphing and calculating without the calculator, I wouldn't stress too much about the ACT... What for? The problems for which a calculator is useful on the ACT are simple computations (after all, all problems are solvable without!) - a $10 scientific calculator will suffice just fine. You don't really need a graphing calculator for the ACT. So, you guys don't think that the famous TI-84 is needed for speed? My son has his math facts down and has a very math brain for figuring out approaches to problems in his head, but I just thought his ACT competition might be against other mathy kids who are faster because of the calculator? Julie Quote Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...

regentrude Posted March 16, 2013 Share Posted March 16, 2013 So, you guys don't think that the famous TI-84 is needed for speed? My son has his math facts down and has a very math brain for figuring out approaches to problems in his head, but I just thought his ACT competition might be against other mathy kids who are faster because of the calculator? I do not see how a graphing calculator would be of any advantage on the ACT. And for the computations, the cheap simple one is not any slower. Have him work a practice test and see what type of questions there are. My DD says she used her calculator mainly for the easy problems, percentages and probabilities; she says a graphing calculator would not have helped at all. Quote Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...

Dana Posted March 16, 2013 Share Posted March 16, 2013 I don't even want to think how bad it is with the weak math students... It's pretty appalling. I had one student last term who was using the calculator to do arithmetic with distribution... problems like -3(3x^2 - 5x +8). I wish, wish, wish I were exaggerating. She didn't pass. So, you guys don't think that the famous TI-84 is needed for speed? My son has his math facts down and has a very math brain for figuring out approaches to problems in his head, but I just thought his ACT competition might be against other mathy kids who are faster because of the calculator? Julie I don't think you get any speed with the graphing calculator vs a scientific calculator except if there's a need for a graph. I haven't looked at the SAT and ACT yet. TI is what many schools want. Textbooks are written using TI as a model. The Casio is cheaper, but because it does exact answers, I don't allow it in the classes I teach. I also don't allow the TI-89 for the same reason. It looks like the N-spire does this as well, so I'll need to investigate more with it. I wanted to be sure my son didn't find playing with the calculator to be a distraction on tests which is why I let him start with it. Unless there's a need for graphs or major statistics, the 30XIIS is plenty (and under $20) and if TI is used in college, keystrokes are very similar so there's not a learning curve. Quote Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...

Julie in MN Posted March 16, 2013 Share Posted March 16, 2013 Unless there's a need for graphs or major statistics, the 30XIIS is plenty (and under $20) and if TI is used in college, keystrokes are very similar so there's not a learning curve. Thanks for that, woah 12.99! I just asked my son if he thought he'd need a graphing calculator for the ACT or for his math courses. He said he thinks he needs a graphing calculator for 2nd half of precalculus. I asked when that would be. He said this Tuesday. Sheesh, where's that thread on independence in college courses! I guess I was meant to get into this discussion just for my dear baby boy's sake. Julie Quote Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...

Rebel Yell Posted March 16, 2013 Share Posted March 16, 2013 My rule of thumb is this: my guys needed to be able to do the basic operations by hand (or in their heads). As we got into Algebra or so, I wanted them to put their mental energies into doing the new math they were learning, rather than doing the arithmetic operations. So, I began to let them use a calculator, with the following condition: they needed to do an estimate before punching in the numbers, so that they could check their calculator answer for reasonableness. It is too easy to hit a wrong number or operator, or forget to put something in parentheses. I emphasize this in my Geometry and Physics classes at co-op as well. I can almost always get a "ball-park" answer to the problem on the whiteboard more quickly than the students can punch it into their calculators. And if they give me an answer that doesn't make sense on either homework or a test question, I take off double points. :iagree: I want to add that I allow my girls to use a calculator when the point of the problem is not "multiply these numbers" but rather "figure out the process." One of mine especially would always always always get the steps tight, and get the entire thing wrong due to a tiny number transposition. Might be like a dyslexic thing? She can recite a phone number but usually dials it wrong, for example. Sometimes, seeing red ink all over the math page was hugely discouraging. Math became a miserable chore- do the problem once, do it again,to check it and get a different answer, then do it a third time and hopt that answer not only matches one of the previous two but is also the correct answer. :huh: Getting the process right, showing all of the steps, and using the calculator to do the 'simple computation" part helped turn attitudes around about Math. It's isn;t maziness or stupidity for them- if it was, a calcultor can't fix that! Quote Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...

MyThreeSons Posted March 16, 2013 Share Posted March 16, 2013 The student should be familiar with using a simple scientific calculator before standardized testing. While all problems on the ACT and SAT can be solved without a calculator, judicious use of a calculator can save time, which is very important on a timed test. But even there, judicious is the key word: the student needs to recognize which problems benefit form calculator use (few!) and which are faster by hand (most!).. Absolutely agree with this! As Regentrude says, almost every problem on the SAT is very simple arithmetically -- fractions reduce to simple terms if you know your multiplication facts, right triangles are one of the Pythagorean triples or isosceles or 30-60, polynomials factor easily when you recognize the pattern (no need to use the quadratic equation), etc. I tutor SAT math prep and go session after session without even touching my calculator as I show students how to solve the problems. A student who grabs his calculator and starts crunching numbers right away is almost always doing it the hard way. And, honestly, I would maintain that having a calculator with what they call "textbook display" or (I think) "natural display" will help on more questions than having a graphing calculator will. Here's why: if, for example, the question comes down to finding the square root of 98, the graphing calculator will display 9.8995 or some such. But the choices will be the exact answers in radical terms -- in this case, 7sqrt(2), which is what the textbook display calculator will show.. (Sorry, I don't know how to get a radical sign on here.) Similarly, it will display 16(pi symbol) rather than 50.2655. There are maybe one or two questions on an SAT where a graphing calculator will help, but the student who knows how to efficiently take advantage of the graphing features will already be familiar enough with the concepts and not need to use it. Quote Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...

nmoira Posted March 16, 2013 Share Posted March 16, 2013 I allow calculator use only when calculations, either singly or as part of a long series, get in the way of the math. An example from earlier this week: having my eldest figure out 11! at the end of a series of calculations wasn't going to enhance her mathematical understanding and isn't something she could easily do mentally*. She did the work and she had the correct answer, but the actual number was required. * Our house math rule is "If it can be done mentally, it will be done mentally." Quote Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...

MyThreeSons Posted March 16, 2013 Share Posted March 16, 2013 Here is a TI calculator that is really nice (and cheap, too): http://www.walmart.com/ip/Texas-Instruments-TI-30XS-MultiView-Calculator/7696395 And here is a Casio calculator I really like: http://www.staples.com/Casio-FX-300ES-Scientific-Calculator/product_616964 Quote Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...

swimmermom3 Posted March 16, 2013 Share Posted March 16, 2013 The graphing calculator is a HUGE advantage when taking the PSAT, ACT and SAT. Our goal is to have the child proficient on the TI-84 Plus Silver about 6 months before the first test. I'd ballpark that we allow regular calculator usage in Algebra I. The graphing calculator is a requirement for pre-Calc or so, I believe. One issue that I have seen with my older kids' friends is using the calculator out of habit when doing the work in one's head would be faster. This can be problematic on the very tests you are talking about when time is valuable. I see too many kids who are handy with their calculators and less so with their math. Quote Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...

regentrude Posted March 16, 2013 Share Posted March 16, 2013 The graphing calculator is a HUGE advantage when taking the PSAT, ACT and SAT. Could you please give some examples of test questions where the use of the graphing calculator is a "huge advantage"? My DD is done with PSAT, ACT and SAT, and she has not found a single one where a graphing calculator would have been useful. Quote Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...

Beth S Posted March 16, 2013 Share Posted March 16, 2013 Could you please give some examples of test questions where the use of the graphing calculator is a "huge advantage"? My DD is done with PSAT, ACT and SAT, and she has not found a single one where a graphing calculator would have been useful. Ha! I didn't realize I would be in the minority on this. And I certainly don't want to be causing any friction. Certainly one can take the ACT test without a calculator. But the graphing calculator is programmable. Our four kids have programmed lots of formulas (like the quadratic formula) into the calculator, and it just speeds up the process, from their experience. If the child is NOT a math whiz, it is a helpful aid. We have purchased them used on Ebay, for about $50-60. The beauty of homeschool is that you can control the influence of electronics on your students. :) Quote Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...

MyThreeSons Posted March 17, 2013 Share Posted March 17, 2013 But the graphing calculator is programmable. Our four kids have programmed lots of formulas (like the quadratic formula) into the calculator, and it just speeds up the process, from their experience. If the child is NOT a math whiz, it is a helpful aid. If you have any kids who still need to take the SAT or ACT, I'd suggest having them do a practice test without a calculator at all. I would wager (if I were a wagering woman) that they'll find that there are more direct ways to solve the problems than using (especially programmable) features on the calculator. They don't have to be a "math whiz". I don't remember ever having to use the quadratic formula to solve a problem on an SAT or ACT practice test. The real tests were taken too long ago to remember such details :lol: . Quote Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...

J-rap Posted March 22, 2013 Share Posted March 22, 2013 I let my kids use a calculator consistently starting with Algebra II. Quote Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...

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