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Retired math specialist; 7-12 private math tutor

Best explanation of the use

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Best explanation of the use of calculators was a professional development I went to where a calculator was described as a tool, just like a car. You have to know where you're going and then the car can get you there faster and easier. But, like a calculator, if you put in the wrong information, or you don't know which process to use, the calculator will only do what you tell it to. Thus, my students really don't like word problems, because they have to decide the process and then tell the calculator what to do. When I was teaching and one of my students would say, "but that's what the calculator said," even though the problem was wrong, we had an acronym, PEBCAC, "Problem Exists Between the Calculator And the Chair." Love calculators, but only because they allow you to do even harder problems when you can tell the calculator how to do them.


I don't understand why this

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I don't understand why this debate about calculators still continues: This problem has been solved. By the QAMA calculator. See

Interesting. I've checked

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Interesting. I've checked over to David's post, and here is my response to both:
This (David's suggestion to use test-it-out activities) is great - except my Grade 7 students who have used a calculator all their lives truly do not know their number facts/families - neither add/subtraction, or multiplication/division. The written sheets would definitely take them longer. They have difficulty estimating, they do not see number patterns, have difficulty with algebra and measurement, and can only rarely get a correct mathematical answer without a calculator.

However I really like the approach you/David describe, and think I will try it out to see what the results are, and what my students conclude. Interesting. Naturally, I am of the "Learn solid numeracy concepts when you're young; Use a calculator when you've learned when it's appropriate to use one for numerical calculations" school of thought. Thanks for the thought-provoking ideas!

Joint Appointment at GVSU between Math Dept and College of Ed

When is it okay to use a calculator?

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Here's a post I wrote about empowering students to answer this question:

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