The debate goes on as to which is the best graphing high school calculator — a key component in many AP math classes and a must for tests like the SAT and others key to entrance in college.
In an article reprinted from Teacher to Teacher, a compelling case is made as to why graphing calculators have a very important place in the classroom. They help answer the age-old question from students as to “When am I going to use this in the real world?”
The article states:
“Traditionally, students learn to manipulate the symbols to solve for x. They might first multiply both sides by 100, move a term to the opposite side, divide, and solve. Then, at the end of the chapter, students might see a section of related word problems. But students would still ask, ‘When are we ever going to have to use this?’
“Graphing calculators can change all of this. Instead of focusing on symbol manipulation, students often start with an application, such as costs charged by long-distance telephone companies. Suppose, for example, that Company Y1 charges $4.95 monthly with a 5-cent per-minute charge. And, that Company Y2 charges 8-cents per minute with no extra monthly charge. Which company should you choose?
“Students could first model these monthly costs with two linear functions: Y1 = 4.95 + 0.05x and Y2 = 0.08x.
“Next, they could build a table of monthly costs. Here students can easily see relationships between costs for the two companies. Similarly, they could graph both together; the differences between the companies will be obvious.
“But the real question is this: which company should you choose? For this question, a related problem is to find where the two linear functions intersect.
“This is easy with a table or a graph.”
Reminiscences About a Graphing High School Calculator
Anuli Akanegbu, writing on EdTechMagazine.com, reminisces about her high school math class days and then also argues in favor of graphing calculators in the high school classroom:
“While digging around in my drawer the other day, I came across a blast from my high school past: a TI-84 Plus graphing calculator. While I haven’t used it since my pre-calculus days, I couldn’t help but feel a pang of reverence.
“If you think about it, graphing calculators were really the original classroom tablets. Before I had my Kindle Fire, I had my TI-84 Plus. And back then, I was guilty of playing “Block Dude” and“Puzzle Frenzy” in class when I should have been graphing polynomials.
“Despite competition from free smartphone and tablet apps like handyCalc Calculator, graphing calculators still have a place in the classroom.
“While I’m a mobile kind of girl in many ways, I found three reasons why graphing calculators won’t be replaced as a classroom staple anytime soon.
“1. Standardized Tests Require Graphing Calculators
“These only allow certain calculators to be used for tests such as the AP, SAT I/II, and PSAT/NMSQT. Since mobile devices aren’t allowed during testing, those free calculator apps won’t do test takers any good. The reason most testing companies ban mobile devices is because of connectivity: By having access to outside resources, students would have the opportunity to cheat.
“2. Calculators Are Less Distracting
“Yes, there are games that work on graphing calculators, but those simple diversions are nothing compared with the time suck that can result from social media and text messaging.
“3. Uniformity Facilitates Teaching
“It is easier for teachers to teach when students are using the same device. This is why the TI-83 Plus and TI-84 Plus calculators have been classroom mainstays for so long. If teachers had to wrestle with different mobile devices in the classroom, they would have to learn a multitude of apps in case students had questions about using the devices.”
Recommendations on a Graphing High School Calculator
So, the question that remains is: “What is the best graphing high school calculator?”
Here’s some information from BestGraphingCalculator.net:
“When you or your child lands in the middle of a math class that requires a lot of heavy duty calculations — like algebra or calculus –you’ll definitely need a graphing calculator. Prior to making a decision about which is the best graphing calculator, consider the following:
“Price — the best graphing calculator can be expensive, but you can definitely find a few even for the most budget-conscious. Think about the features you might need — and those you feel you can do without. It won’t be any fun to be in your first class, struggling to make your new calculator perform the tasks you need only to find you’ve bought the wrong one. Our advice is to follow our recommendations and don’t sweat the price. You’ll be glad you dug deep into your wallet — or credit card.
“Screen — Trying to make out the features on a small or low-resolution screen can be a definite drawback and constant hassle. For the best long-term satisfaction, spring for a color display. Sure, they’re a little more expensive — but not so much so you’ll regret your choice. Spend a little less on lattes and splurge on a graphing calculator with a full-color display.
“Batteries: Alkaline vs Rechargeable — If you want to be ready for a long exam, or are moving around a lot (this happens continually in high school and college), you don’t want to always be hunting for a power outlet to recharge your batteries. You don’t want the expense and extra trouble caused by constantly changing out batteries (particularly in the middle of an exam). So, opt for a rechargeable calculator — just remember to set it to recharge every evening — just like your cell phone.
“Warranty — Ensuring that your new graphing calculator comes with a full warranty can take the worry out of owning one. And, again, the best warranty will come with the more expensive models. And, ultimately. with the best graphing calculator. Of course, warranties don’t mean squat if you drop the calculator. But they’ll come in real handy if you find it stops working five days into the semester.”
For high school students, BestGraphingCalculator.net makes the following recommendation:
“We like the new Casio FX-9750GII for middle school and high school math, science and finance courses. It’s easy to use and has AP statistics functions, making it useful for statistics students, especially those in advanced high school classes. And, it has a shutdown feature that saves battery life.
“What it doesn’t have is 3D graphing and geometric equations, like more advanced models. But for the price, it’s hard to beat for basic graphing.
“Features and Benefits:
- Quick Pie Charts & Bar Graphs
- USB connectivity for file sharing
- High-resolution LCD display
- High-Speed 62KB RAM CPU
- Intuitive software design
“Here’s an Amazon review:
The Casio FX-9750GII is also among the least expensive on the market at under $40. Other recommendations include the Texas Instruments TI-84 Plus, the Texas Instruments TI-73, the Texas Instruments TI83 Plus, and the Texas Instruments TI 84 Plus CE.
You can see more graphing calculator comparisons by visiting http://bestgraphingcalculator.net/