One question comes up as I've recently dipped my toes into programming on calculators with my students . . . You teach your students to program, but what if they start programming formulas into their calculators?

I've been thinking about this question, and playing out a few scenarios in my head . . .

1. Don't teach students to program. Maintaining ignorance is a good way to keep students from doing things you don't want them to do.

2. Teach them to program, but make sure they don't use it for cheating. Reset calculators before every test. This is a good way to make sure students don't spend too much time on any programs.

3. Let them program away. What might happen? Student who learns about the quadratic formula might think about programming it into her calculator. Later on, student encounters an equation, recognizes it is quadratic, correctly identifies a, b, and c and then executes a program she has coded herself to solve the quadratic.

I think I can live with option 3.

In fact, I'm over here smiling.

I too like option 3 but even if they didn't know how to program they could use the program built into the calculator to solve the equation.

ReplyDeleteThat would be a concern. I don't think the calculators we're using have a built-in program. But now I want to double-check!

DeleteI always give my assessments in 2 parts - 1st non calc, 2nd calc. They have the quad program but I can easily ask a question on the non calc to see if they can do it, then a question on the calc part where they use the program to get the answer but can dive deeper into a problem beyond that.

ReplyDeleteI have done the same. I think the key is that there are always ways to work around this issue by re-writing questions or re-structuring your test. Another option might be to require answers to be written in exact form or give questions with complex roots.

DeleteBy the time they've figured out the program, written it and debugged it, they've got it memorized and no longer need it. I think the only real use is the Law of Cosines solved for theta - that's the worst one for keeping parentheses straight.

ReplyDeleteAgreed. It is also similar to teachers who allowed some type of formula sheet. By the time I had decided what to write and had it all printed out, I usually knew the information and didn't need to refer to the sheet.

DeleteI agree with option 3! Students have access to technology and should be taught how to use them to their advantage as long as they understand a concept.

ReplyDeleteI'm loving your posts about programming! I'm going to dive into this a little with my 8th graders next week to participate in the "Hour of Code" (http://csedweek.org)

Thanks for the inspiration!

I am so glad you have been inspired! I am not sure if I would have taken this on without some assistance, but once I got into it I was pleasantly surprised by how low the entry is. I truly believe that if I can do it on my limited experience, then so can others!

DeleteI think that you are right with option three! :) My math teacher in high school taught me so many things that I know how to do on the calculator, but she did things to make sure that we knew how to work problems by hand, too. (For instance, some problems would need an exact answer with radicals and/or pi rather than a decimal number). For programming, you might come up with a quadratic equation that has "letter" values for a, b, and c. This way the problem would not be able to be solved by programming and the students' knowledge would be tested in that way. :)

ReplyDelete