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Photo by: Kristy Vickery - Winter Park High School teacher Donald Worcester shows student Dominique Heron how to use the calculator.
Winter Park / Maitland Observer Thursday, Jan. 28, 2010 8 years ago

High-tech learning

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Sophisticated calculators enhance the learning experience for Winter Park High math students
by: Kristy Vickery

The AP statistics quiz pops up on Dominique Heron's calculator, and she goes to work. Within five minutes, she and her classmates' scores are tallied and graphed on the projector.

No this isn't the scene of a futuristic learning environment with flying cars buzzing by outside, it's a Winter Park High School classroom where the TI-Nspire Navigator is taking center stage.

These new wireless calculators are helping students learn easier and faster, Heron said.

"They are like the TI 84 calculators plus a computer," she said.

The TI-Nspire Navigator is bringing a new way of learning to a wide range of math classes across the nation through a pilot program composed of two dozen teachers and 3,000 students, sponsored by TI.

Participants of the program were chosen through internal recommendations, and Winter Park High School math teacher Donald Worcester was one of the few chosen, Lynn Windle, Media Relations Manager of TI Education Technology, said.

"This is a great pilot to be a part of," Worcester said. "And the students just really love technology, so when they knew they were like one of 24 other classrooms around the United States they were really excited."

The TI-Nspire Navigator system works by connecting the TI-Nspire and the TI-Nspire CAS handhelds equipped with a wireless cradle to the teacher's laptop and projector, which gives teachers such as Worcester an advantage to getting results of quizzes or tests instantaneously.

"I can send a quiz, they can do the quiz, and I can collect the quiz and look at a bar graph and all the results in under five minutes every day," Worcester said. "So I can see what kids are on track, what kids need help or if I need to restructure the lesson."

The TI-Nspire not only helps teachers get responses quicker, but also functions as a mini computer by storing files the teacher sends.

"It's just like a computer — if I click control-Z it still does (the function) undo and I can still do things like copy and paste," Heron said. "And when we take tests on them we can use split screens so we can have our question on one side and use a calculator on the other side to do all of our work in."

Heron also said she also likes that the technology cuts down on the amount of paper used in the classroom.

"It's super environmentally-friendly," she said.

The instruments can be used outside of math class as well. Free responses, true or false, and multiple choice tests can all be done on the TI. Although Worcester's class has adapted well to them, there is no way of knowing how long it might take before more classrooms have the technology.

"It just depends on the technology adoption cycle of the school district," Windle said. "But we hope they adopt them very soon."

"I think they (students) get more of an understanding of the math we use with the technology," Worcester said. "They have come a long way this year."

Digital learning

TI-Nspire is a wireless classroom network system that engages students to learn through a hands-on experience while giving teachers an instantaneous response to quizzes and tests.

For more information on the TI-Nspire Navigator classroom learning system visit www.ti-nspire.com .

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