Unit 1: Understanding the Benefits of the Nspire in Mathematics Instruction


Back to the course outline: Better Understanding of Mathematical Concepts through the Graphing Calculator

Objective: By the end of Unit 1, you should be able to explain and understand why utilizing the graphing calculator for mathematics instruction is beneficial for student understanding.


Darling-Hammond (2008) has the following comments about the learning of math in school:

“. . [Math] can be experienced in two different ways. For mathematicians, and for those students lucky enough to experience it this way in classrooms. Mathematics is a form of sense making, a result of which is that patterns, rules and procedures, and results all cohere in a meaningful way. It is a discipline in which one can explore, and make and verify discoveries. For most, however, mathematics has been experienced as a set of somewhat arbitrary rules and procedures to be memorized and applied” (p. 113 - 114).

The graphing calculator is one way in which students can better understand mathematics and not simply view it as a set of rules. Below is a link to an article “Graphing Calculators in the Mathematics Classroom.” It presents some general ideas of how graphing calculators are beneficial in the classroom for students’ understanding of mathematics. It also provides references and summaries to further studies and informative articles. After you have finished the article, you may find it helpful to locate some of the provided articles.[[1]]

Sample Activity

Here is an example of an activity where students learn using the TI (Texas Instruments) Nspire graphing calculator. The images you see are snap shots of the different screens students see as they are completing the activity to learn about equations in point-slope form:

Shark attack1.jpg

Check out the complete file at the website below. It contains links to download the actual tns file for the Nspire and activity sheet: [[2]]

Reflection of Research & Sample Activity

After reading the article and looking at the Shark Attack activity, complete the following:

1) With a partner, create a list of reasons why utilizing the graphing calculator would be beneficial to use in the mathematics classroom.

2) Do you agree with everything the research says? Why or why not?

3) Did you find the Shark Attack activity to be engaging and beneficial for students' learning of point-slope form?

4) After thinking about the ways the graphing calculator can be beneficial in the mathematics classroom, reflect how you might try to use it in your own classroom. A unit your students have traditionally struggle with might be a great place to start!

Unit 2: Operating the TI-Nspire and TI CAS Teacher Edition Software

Back to the course outline: Better Understanding of Mathematical Concepts through the Graphing Calculator