Graphing Calculators

Today's Date :
 Last Update : 08/15/2007


FAQ


Why Should I Purchase a Graphing Calculator?

  1. With today's usage of technology in education and the work force, I stress the use of graphing calculators in my Pre calculus and Calculus classes. By the end of each course, I am hoping that my students will have the necessary tools to use the graphing calculator in many mathematical situations.
  2. Most universities require graphing calculators, so I am hoping my students will be well prepared for this technology and not have to learn it while picking up other time demanding aspects of the busy college life.
  3. Learning graphing software is an Indiana Department of Education State proficiency which means students are required by the state to learn graphing software and I am required to teach it. TI graphing calculators do meet this requirement.
  4. Graphing calculators are allowed on the SAT test. The SAT score is used by many universities to help determine the acceptance and placement of applying students.
  5. Graphing calculators are required on the Calculus advanced placement test. This is a test which Northridge AP Calculus students take. Depending on the student's AP score, college credit and/or college placement can be earned.
  6. Graphing calculators are allowed on academic competitions such as the Indiana State Super Bowl, Decathlon, and calculator tournaments
  7. In my class, you will learn how to check your written homework with a graphing calculator. This will give you immediate feed back as to whether you are doing your problems correctly.
  8. In my class, tests are broken into two parts, one-half calculator based and one-half non-calculator based. Working out your mathematics by hand when doing calculator related work will take too long and is simply not feasible under the time constraints.
  9. Without a graphing calculator, you will be at a major disadvantage if you consider that many other students will be using them.

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Which graphing calculator should I purchase?

Since I have access to a TI-84 plus silver edition overhead view screen, I will be using that specific model with my classroom examples. I do update my graphing calculator model from time-to-time and this may occur at any point in the school year. Regardless of the model I am using, you may purchase any graphing calculator you want. It is not necessary for you to use the same model I am using. If you do have the same model as myself, It may be easier for you to follow along in class with my examples, but either way there should be plenty of help in the classroom to get you started with your own. It is important for you to note that when selecting your calculator of choice that :

To help assist you with your decision on the purchase of a graphing calculator, check out this comparison table :

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What if I own a model other than Texas Instrument?

I have had many students in the past who have been successful with non-Texas Instrument calculators such as Casio and Hewlett-Packard models. However, they were forced to learn many of the calculator features independently. If you have a model other than a Texas Instrument, then it is important that you keep the manual with you at all times so that we can learn the features of your calculator together. It is also important that your calculator is a newer model since older calculators may lack the necessary programs. If I am not around and you must learn a specific feature on your calculator, try utilizing a search engine to find web sites that will provide help.


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Can I get by without a graphing calculator?

You will not get by without a graphing calculator. Scientific, business, and four function calculators simply do not have the programs which are necessary for Pre calculus and Calculus. In my class, tests are broken into two parts, one-half calculator based and one-half non-calculator based. This same testing format is true for the AP Calculus test which is taken during the spring by AP students. Working out your mathematics by hand when doing calculator related work will take too long and is simply not feasible under the time constraints.

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How will I learn how to use my graphing calculator?

Hopefully, you will learn how to use your calculator as you watch me demonstrate examples with my own on the overhead view screen. Unfortunately, some students learn faster than others in this fashion. Depending on how many hands are being raised, I may or may not be able to provide immediate help. If you find yourself not understanding your calculator during demonstrations, then try asking your neighbor. Also there usually is a point during class when the opportunity presents itself for you to ask me individually or someone who has the same model calculator as yourself. If I am not around and you must learn a specific feature on your calculator, try utilizing a search engine to find web sites that will provide help or use your manual which provides explanations and examples.

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Where can I get programs for my calculator?

You will not need any programs for your calculator other than the ones that are already placed in memory by the manufacturer. If you feel it is necessary to have additional programs on your calculator, then you can write your own or download them from the internet onto a computer and then link them to your calculator with a graph link cable. Use your own computer to do this; Do not use a school computer. If you do link software to your calculator, you may find that some of the programs will cause your calculator to lock up. Your calculator is locked up probably because a program which was graph linked to it is trying to access RAM memory that is already occupied. This is an unfortunate occurrence, especially during a testing situation. I recommend that you do not download software and then graph link it to your calculator unless the program is written by Texas Instruments or another reliable source.

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How do I unlock my calculator?

Your calculator may be locked up because a program which was graph linked to it is trying to access RAM memory that is already occupied. To unlock your calculator, you will need to clear your RAM memory and since it is locked, you will not be able to use the MEM program. Clearing RAM memory will delete anything placed in the calculator by yourself - including programs. When you clear RAM, your calculator will essentially have the same settings that were present when it was brand new. You can clear your RAM by removing the four primary batteries and single lithium auxiliary battery. Static electricity may still be present after taking out the batteries, so it might be a good idea to wait at least ten minutes before reinserting them.

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How do I fix my blank or faded screen?

Your screen is blank or faded because :

  1. your batteries are low and need to be replaced. If you have an extra set of batteries handy, try replacing them with the ones in your calculator. If you still have the same problem then try one of the other solutions below.
  2. the contrast setting on your calculator is too low. This sometimes occurs right after you clear your RAM memory. To increase the contrast, press the 2nd function key (2nd function Key)and then up arrow(up arrow). Each time you do so, the contrast value on your calculator will increase and should be on display in the upper right part of your screen. If your screen is still blank or faded then it could be that your 2nd function and/or up arrow keys are gummed up. To un gum a key, try pressing it 20 to 30 times in succession.
  3. your calculator is locked up. Go here for instructions to unlock it.

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How come my calculator is displaying differently than usual?

A common reason for this occurrence is that the mode features on your calculator were changed. This could have been done by yourself or a program that was graph linked to your calculator. You can fix the problem by :

  1. pressing the MODE button and then readjusting the settings manually.
  2. instructing your calculator to accept the default settings. Do this by pressing the MEM button and then select RESET and then DEFAULTS.
  3. clearing RAM memory. Clearing RAM memory will delete anything placed in the calculator by yourself - including programs. When you clear RAM, your calculator will essentially have the same settings that were present when it was brand new. To clear your RAM, find the MEM button and then select RESET and then ALL RAM. After you clear RAM, then you may need to increase the contrast on your calculator. Go here for increase contrast instructions.

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How do I program my calculator?

Programming is a great deal of fun! Depending on the amount of time that is available in the course, I will teach my students how to program their calculators using the TI-BASIC programming language. This is usually an extra credit opportunity for students and many take advantage of it. In the mean time, try to learn how to program your calculator independently by using your manual or by finding a good web site that will demonstrate some examples. I have a few of my own examples at : www.mrpowell.net/program/progra.htm.

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COPYRIGHT 2007 Simone (Sam) Powell All Rights Reserved.