Why Do We Still Use a Graphing Calculator that Hasn’t Changed Much Since 1994?

Published: Monday, March 26, 2018

News articles on education usually don’t bother me. But this one did.

Last week, National Public Radio’s Morning Edition published a story called “Why the Graphing Calculator Hasn’t Changed Much Since 1994.” The story argues that “the fact that the graphing calculator hasn't changed much since 1994 is exactly what makes it so valuable. If it were updated, there would be no real reason for it to exist.” Peter Balyta, president of education technology at Texas Instruments (TI), explained that “we could easily add features to our calculators like a touchscreen, Wi-Fi or a camera, but we don’t….When someone's buying a graphing calculator, they're not just buying a graphing calculator. They're buying really a solution for a classroom.” The story concludes that students “love” their graphing calculators – either because they have to spend a lot of time doing math or “maybe they are just excited about something that managed to escape the forces of creative destruction.”

I’ve taught math at large public high schools in New York City since 2005. In my experience most students hate their graphing calculators, mostly because they’re expensive and difficult to use. This creates a major – and sometimes insurmountable – barrier to learning.

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DeltaMath: An Innovative Math Website for Student Practice

Published: Monday, January 1, 2018

One of the most difficult things for math teachers to do when writing lessons is finding enough time for students to practice skills. Many web sites, including Carnegie Learning (www.carnegielearning.com), Castle Learning (www.castlelearning.com), and Learner Pal (www.learnerpal.com), provide online resources to help teachers create additional practice for students. Like these sites, Delta Math (www.deltamath.com) also allows teachers to create automatically graded student assignments, but it has several innovative features that make it more powerful and useful than its competitors.

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My Insider's Perspective on New York's Regents Exams

Published: Tuesday, August 8, 2017

New York State’s Regents Exams have been in the news recently. Last month, the New York State Education Department (NYSED) released a statement saying that all students would receive credit for question #24 on the June 2017 Geometry Regents Exam. It was the third question on this exam that had flaws. How can Regents exams be improved? As someone who has served on three NYSED committees, I have an insider's perspective on the process.

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The Important Announcement that the Regents Didn't Make Yesterday

Published: Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Yesterday, the New York State Board of Regents announced that the controversial standardized tests in English and math would be reduced from three days each to two. But what was perhaps more important was the announcement that the Board didn’t make.

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Revisions to Common Core Standards Released

Published: Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Today, the New York State Education Department released revisions to the Common Core State Standards for English Language Arts and Mathematics. I was part of the committee that met in Albany last summer to propose revisions to the standards. That week was an incredibly intense meeting of educators from to discuss what turned out to be relatively minor improvements to the standards. I've spoken and written earlier about my thoughts on the revisions, most extensively in an article that I wrote for Math for America last November called "Revising Common Core Math Should Be Just the Beginning."

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