Q&A #6284

Calculator use

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From: Tim G. (for Teacher2Teacher Service)
Date: May 07, 2001 at 15:53:20
Subject: Re: Calculator use

Keith, As you have already seen, there is no set policy. It is really up to the individual schools and teachers to decide. However, the feelings about calculators are very diverse. The State of California is working on a law right now that would ban the use of calculators for students under the grade of sixth grade. Meanwhile, a different state (I believe it is Vermont) just bought 200,000 graphing calculators so that all of its middle school through high school students could be on the same playing field. Wacky, huh? Personally, I feel that there are some great advantages of using calculators. My fifth grade students use them on a regular basis. The main advantage is that the calculators free up the student to concentrate less on the math sentence and more on the problem that needs to be solved. Thanks to the calculator, my students are able to do algebra and trigonometry. If they were forced to do all of this work with paper and pencil, they would get so bogged down as to make it impossible to do the work. I look at a calculator the same way I look at a dictionary. I never tell students that they can only write words that they know how to spell correctly. If they want to use a word that they do not know how to spell, we look it up in the dictionary. The same is true with the calculator. They can use it to help them. Calculators are a great tool. Like any tool that is relatively new, there are some who see only the negatives. Remember, paper and pencil was a controversial new tool in the classroom at one time. -Tim G., for the T2T service

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