My students are 8th graders from Cromwell, Connecticut. The town is split amongst rural and suburban areas and is becoming more diverse each year. The community is supportive of education and wants the best for their children, however with recent budget cuts, has been lacking in technological areas in the mathematics department. The Algebra I students are taking a high school level course, but do not have the same access to resources that many high school students have that are enrolled in the same course. In order to understand and explore Algebra in its entirety, this technology is essential for students to begin to interact with in the beginning of their mathematical careers. The foundational skills of algebra need to be reinforced just as the manipulation and appropriate use of technological tools, specifically calculators, needs to be reinforced. These students are at an extreme disadvantage due to the fact that these calculators may be used during the SATs and many other standardized tests, however, they have no access to them and no idea how to use them appropriately. These students are extremely motivated and want to learn and engage with the mathematical material, however funding has halted their inquisitive processes.
TI-84 calculators will give my students access to the one technological resource that will be a constant in standardized testing for the remainder of their careers as students both in secondary, and post-secondary education. This resource is one of the only tools that is allowed on the SAT for high school students, and Praxis exams for undergraduate students in college. Once students have access to this tool, I can help them develop their understanding of mathematics with explorative activities on the calculator as opposed to delivering instruction directly. In addition, I can show them how every topic that we learn about can be explored on the calculator and how almost every process that we do by hand can be checked using multiple functionalities in the calculator. This will arm them with an entirely new set of skills to check their work independently while also developing appropriate problem-solving techniques that they can use later on in their careers. This will improve their school lives because it will break up our class time from seemingly mundane paper and pencil tasks and practice with technology that is interactive and essential to helping them build their understanding.
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