Q&A #6284

Calculator use

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From: Jeanne (for Teacher2Teacher Service)
Date: May 09, 2001 at 10:01:46
Subject: Re: Calculator use

Hi Keith,

Ralph, Tim and Suzanne shared information and views on calculator use and
calculator policy.  I thought I'd talk about your last three questions.

>Do you go as far as recommending a particular calculator for your students?

As a high school teacher, I tell the students that any scientific calculator
is fine.  HOWEVER, THEY might prefer a calculator that has a fraction key,
[a b/c].

Graphing calculators are a little different.
Some teachers go so far as to specify a particular brand and model of
calculator. Others give a list of acceptable calculators with a qualifying
statement that is similar to "...but I am only familiar with/can help you
with ..."

My department is discussing the following issue:  What do we do with
graphing calculators that have the capability of symbolic manipulation.
(For example, these calculators can solve quadratic equations and express
the solutions in radical form.)  They are becoming very affordable AND
because they do not have a "QWERTY" keyboard, they are allowed for use on
the AP Calculus and SAT exams.

If we restrict them from our classrooms, might we be putting our students at
a disadvantage when taking these tests?  If we allow them in our classrooms,
what effect will these have on our teaching?

What about equity issues?

>Does the school/education dept. sell calculators?

My school does not sell calculators--at least not directly.  We do have
calculators available to check out like a text book. (We have a substantial
population of students on our free lunch program.)  Since our cost per
calculator is less than the retail price, I know that some kids simply pay
the "lost calculator" fee.

>Does the school/education department have a deal with any calculator 

Some arrangements can be set up with schools or teachers. I recently purchased 
78 graphing calculators from Casio.  They discontinued a particular model and 
offered a "close out" sale.

Normally, we purchase our calculators from education distributors around the 
country.  The price per calculator which includes shipping and handling and 
taxes is less than retail.

Hope this helps.

-Jeanne, for the T2T service

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