Many of my students cannot afford calculators, and understanding how to use scientific calculators is part of the Common Core standards for 8th grade math under scientific notation. These calculators would be used during the school year for my Algebra students as well.
60% of my students are on free or reduced lunch.
Nevertheless, they are well behaved kids when presented with and taught how to care for technology properly. I have been at other schools in the past, and this school is not only the most community centered school by far, but takes it to a level I didn't know was possible. We don't test as high in math as other wealthy schools, but we build character in kids who are often dealt a tough card in life through our amazing athletics and music program. We have won "Best Middle School" by our local newspaper (out of four districts) the last three years. For all the accolades our middle school has acquired, we have struggled in math scores due to our math teacher turnover, which is the most inexperienced teacher group at our school.
A large part of the 8th grade Common Core curriculum requires students to use calculators to answer scientific notation and exponent problems. Some students can afford these calculators, but most cannot. I am a huge fan of having kids answer project based work such as the Dan Meyer 3 Act Math Problems that require tedious math calculations to solve real world problems. With scientific calculators, the tedious math work would be mostly avoided so that students can focus on the higher level math concepts.
The possibilities are as deep as the imagination for what students can gain from access to these calculators.
With these calculators, students will better be equipped to solve rigorous math problems at their grade level. By having a class set of calculators, all students will have a more equitable playing field.
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