Calculators in the Classroom

A Program of the Los Angeles Unified School District
Instructional Support Services-Mathmatics Division

Professional Development in Mathematics and Science



Steve Overton and Julia Chung are two of the instructors for the Texas Instruments TI-83 Graphing Calculator Workshop for Beginners. The powerful calculators available for use in the classroom today allow students to understand mathematics and science at deeper levels because they can actually explore concepts instead of just being told about them. This workshop is designed to teach teachers how to make the most of these hand-held tools so that they can pass that knowledge on to their students.

"In our classrooms, we think learning is a lifelong process," says Overton. "Julia and I conduct these professional development classes because we want other teachers to be comfortable with this technology. Once the teachers learn to use the calculators, and teach their students, the benefits are tremendous."

This particular workshop focuses on using the graphing calculator in mathematics classes. "All of us need to have an understanding of basic arithmetic," says Overton, "but to understand more complicated things, we need to have a deeper understanding of mathematics and that's why we proceed to the levels of algebra and beyond. The graphing calculator makes that more accessible to our students because they can actually visualize the mathematics on the calculator screen."
Co-instructor Julia Chung knows what a dynamic tool the graphing calculator can be because she sees how quickly the students can grasp concepts using the calculators as a type of portable computer laboratory, inside and outside the classroom.

The calculators are required for students taking Advanced Placement (AP) tests to allow them to focus on problem solving instead of spending time doing calculations by hand. AP students say that in statistical studies it would take hours to come to a conclusion that can be reached quickly using a calculator. This gives students more time to look for patterns, explore concepts, and come to a more thorough understanding of what they're studying.

Steve Overton concludes, "We both feel a debt of gratitude to those teachers who taught us and introduced us to this technology ­ we are trying to pass it on to the next group of teachers, and hopefully they will one day pass it on to other teachers, too."

For more information, contact Matthais Vheru Coordinator Secondary Science (213) 241-6880 Los Angeles Unified School District,
Instructional Support Services - Mathematics Branch

333 S. Beaudry, 25th Floor, 151-9 Los Angeles, CA 90017 Phone (213) 241-6420 Fax (213) 241-8469