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Topic: Calculators in 8th Grade
Replies: 10   Last Post: May 16, 1999 6:45 PM

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by way of Eric Sasson

Posts: 28
Registered: 12/4/04
Re: Calculators and computation
Posted: May 13, 1999 7:20 PM
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Perhaps Chapter 2: Guiding Principles: Technology Principle should
more directly address the cause as you have so succinctly stated it.
On page 42, Lines 33-41, this problem is addressed in general terms.
The use of the calculator to do simple calculations relates to its use
as a "Black box" computation device at the primary level. This is
reinforced more directly on page 43 where it is stated that "However,
access to calculators does not replace the need for students to learn
and become fluent with basic arithmetic facts, …"

The calculator use issue once again points out the need for those who
are teaching mathematics at every level to be aware of the purpose of
the curriculum. This generally requires a good conceptual
understanding of mathematics beyond the level being taught at the
moment. We must begin to offer and then require intending teachers to
take quality mathematics courses which model the level of
understanding expected of all students.

On 13 May 99, John Olive wrote re. Calculators and computation:
> The problem is not the use of calculators, the problem is teaching
> mindless procedures (whether it be pressing calculator keys or

> down 37 - 17 in vertical format to obtain an answer). When the
> computation IS mindless then I would rather a mindless machine carry
> it out (it is more efficient and more accurate). BUT, we do need to
> address the real problem: How to get our students to construct
> numerical operations as related knowledge rather than isolated facts
> and procedures? Perhaps the judicious use of calculators in the

> grades to explore number patterns and relationships (rather than as
> quick way to get a simple answer) would help rather than hinder the
> children's construction of numerical relations and strategic

> If these explorations on the calculator were combined with
> students to come up with their own ways to solve simple numerical
> problems mentally (rather than with paper and pencil algorithms), we
> might see some 8th graders who could reason that 2/3 of 3 must be 2
> because 1/3 of 3 is 1, therefore two of 1/3 will be 2 ones.

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