Daily Archives: October 10, 2016

Physics PD

Three years ago, my district purchased TI-Nspire CX calculators for all 8th grade and algebra 1 teachers.  The following year, they were able to purchase TI-Nspire CX calculators for all geometry teachers.  My campus began purchasing the TI-Nspire calculators a few years before the mass district purchase, but we began with precalculus teachers and worked our way down.  This is the first year that all of the math teachers on my campus have a class set of TI-Nspire CX calculators.  As a result of our transition away from the TI-84+ in the math class, students are coming to science classes with TI-Nspires.  Unfortunately, the science teachers have class sets of TI-83+ or TI-84+ calculators.

I had talked with the math C&I specialist about trying to get the science teachers on board with using the TI-Nspire.  She talked with the science C&I specialist, and we decided to start by providing an overview to the physics teachers.  So this morning I provided the physics teachers in my district with an overview of the TI-Nspire CX.  We only had three hours, so we just scratched the surface with things they can do with the TI-Nspire CX.

I began with a broad overview of the layout of the handheld.  Then I showed them an action-consequence document that I had downloaded from Science Nspired.  Next, we used the CBR2 to practice matching some graphs using the built in DataQuest app.  I purposely planned this activity knowing that the physics teachers have motion detectors and have their students do the graph match activity using the Vernier LabQuest.  Finally, we explored the Science Nspired website.

The biggest concern they had was preventing cheating on test.  I showed them how to put the handheld into Press to Test mode.  Since they do not have class sets of TI-Nspires we decided that it would be best to have students take their calculators to their math teachers in order to get the handheld out of Press to Test mode.

The feedback from the physics teachers was positive.  Although they do not have constant access to TI-Nspires in their classrooms, they walked away feeling more comfortable with helping their students that do have them and allowing those students to use them on tests.

I also learned something from the physics teachers.  In physics, the scales on the axes are often different.  They told me that students are trying to find slope of a line by counting grid lines between points, not recognizing that the horizontal and vertical units of the grid lines are not the same.  I am going to suggest to the math teachers that we begin giving students linear graphs where the axes do not have the same scale and ask the students to find the slope of the line.  Our students will benefit from some graphical literacy.