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Case Summary

Community college students use graphing calculators to aid them in learning calculus.

Setting the Scene

  • Applicable Grade Level(s): None given
  • Applicable Subject/Unit(s): Math;
  • Technologies Used in Lesson: graphic calculator;
  • Kind of School: other;
  • School Location: rural;
  • Connectivity: link to world (WWW);
  • Location of Technology Resources: primarily in labs;
  • Social Economical Situation of Student: mixed (all classes);

Teacher Information

  • Teaching Experience: 6 years
  • Teacher Technology Experience/Skill Level: used consistently at home and in classroom;

Other Case Details

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Whole Story

What I am going to do is just ask you a few basic questions about your school, and your teaching experiences, and then we can get into a story about how you used technology in the classroom. First of all how many years of teaching experience do you have?


How would you describe your own personal experience with technology, would you say that you are pretty skilled?

Pretty skilled.

Do you use that technology pretty consistently at home as well as in the school setting?


What kind of school do you teach at? Elementary, Junior high?

Community college.

So that is post high school?


And would you describe the schoolís location as urban, suburban, rural?


Do you have internet connections in your classrooms?


How many computers do you have in your classroom? Is it just the teacher computer?

It depends. All the rooms have at least one teacher computer, and we have labs that we use for the developmental classes, but it is a classroom set of computers. We also have a learning center that if you have a small classroom you can take your class down and access those.

And all of those are netted into the internet as well.


And how would you describe the general socio-economic status of your students?


And what subject do you teach?


Lets move into a story where you have used technology in your classroom. Can you tell me about a specific time?

When I am teaching the calculus course, we started doing area under the curve integrations. We started having them use their calculator, we havenít done anything where we have actually assessed them on it, but I can use the chalkboard and draw the areas under the curve and they donít get it, but if they use the calculator, it shades it in. I usually tell them they have to show all their work but they can use their calculator as an aid. And when we get further down into sections where we are just doing the x axis, they actually figure out that the relationship between ďI need to subtract the two functions before calculating the area under the curve.Ē So I thought it was pretty intuitive of them to realize Ďok, If I just take it, this isnít giving me the answer I am getting, but if I just look at it and take the other part out.Ē

So they were able to use the Ö

Graphing calculators.

And is that something that the school supplies?

No they are supposed to supply it on their own.

Are they allowed to use those as a tool for test taking?

Yes, there are limitations on which graphing calculators, but most they can use.

Then your reason for using technology would be--?

[I use the technology for] visualization.

Have you ever run into any difficulties with the students in utilizations of these?

No, I have just had some students who have not had the finances to afford the calculator. They usually can share it in class with someone else, and thatís kind of been some of my limitations of deciding to do a homework assignment with it. I have come up with a solution, because they now have those virtual calculators. So I might request that they put them on the computers and behave just like a calculator, and look like one. So that might be a solution.

That way they can go into the computer lab on their own and do their homework?


Okay. Do you have any help in the classroom in case your kids ever have any difficulty using the calculators?


So you donít have a teaching assistant or anyone to help you?


Do you end up teaching them how to use the calculator as part of the class?

Usually they will start; you know, I will give them an opportunity to do something. Then I tell them they can use their friends.

So they use each other as resources.


Have you learned any lessons by using calculators in your classroom setting?

Lessons in which way?

Personal lessons about how you can teach more effectively?

Yes, like I said, some things that I show them the exact same picture with the area under the curve on the board, they wont get it, but when that calculator shows it shading it in they get it, so the visualization really helps.

Ok, well thank you for your time and your story.

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