An Open Letter to My TI Friends

The good folks at Texas Instruments, at long last, have released an app for their popular Nspire product.  For geeky math folks like me, this was met with “I want to play.  I want to play.  I want to play!!!!”.  That is, until I visited the app store and found our that the app costs $29.99.  {insert sad face}

NspireSo…download, or don’t download?  I have been a sucker for all things TI for some time now, and the TI folks were kind enough to host me for their Fast Track program a few years back, where I received training on the Navigator system.  I’ve done many training sessions at my school for staff on graphing calculators, spoke at the T^3 conference one year, and wrote a grant last year for a class lab of Nspire CX’s.  When it has come to TI products in my school district…I’m all in!

HeartsBut despite out long relationship together, Texas Instruments, I’m thinking it may be time for us to break up.  It’s not you…it’s me.  See, I don’t see a future in this relationship, and I don’t know who you are anymore.  Remember last year when I bought all those glossy, snazzy Nspire-CX’s?  That was fun, and we have done some great lessons together.  But now I see you making the TI-84 color with new bells and whistles, and I can’t help but feel a little twinge of jealousy.  I don’t know what product I’m supposed to tell my students to buy anymore.  Some days you are Nspire, some days you are 84, and now this new app which a student could never possibly use on an SAT or AP exam….I just don’t know.

And your Nspire software?  I told all of my friends about how great you were, and bought a whole bunch of you in my grant last year.  But let’s face it, you take up way too much memory in my computer, and run way too slow at times.  And while the tns files are cool, and your new app plays them, I get tired of waiting for you sometimes.  Oh, and that free software offer on your website?  The one where I get free software if I buy the app?  I can’t help but feel a little hurt that you forgot about us who have purchased your software {sigh}…

Desmos PiSee, the thing is…I’m seeing someone else.  Her name is Desmos, and she is really cool.  I’ve told all my teacher friends about her, and they agree that she is really fast and reliable.  And while she doesn’t have all of your features, she is working on it.  We’re growing a nice relationship together.  She even makes me Pi when I need it.  And she is free!  (Note: OK, maybe this isn’t the best line for a break-up letter….but the Desmos calculator is free…check it out!)

I’m looking forward to seeing you at the T^3 conference next month, and I hope we can talk about our relationship.  But I don’t know if I see a future between us.

I hope we can still be friends.



By Bob Lochel

HS Math Teacher. Hatboro-Horsham School District, Horsham, PA.

11 replies on “An Open Letter to My TI Friends”

For the last five years or so, I never really understood people’s fascination with TI. For the cost of their stuff, one could buy an android tablet and have money left to spare and a much more powerful and versatile machine. (FYI: I am an Apple guy.) The argument is always the AP and SAT. It’s time to get the College Board into the 21st century.

Very much agree John. I am tired of paying for TI stuff. Also, I am an AP Stats reader, and not sure how they could deal with the tools issue fairly, but there is already an inequity in the tools allowed. The communication issue is the one which would need to be worked around.

Thank you for posting this! For the first time in 20+ years of teaching math, this year I have felt that TI calculators are holding my students back, rather than enabling them to be better problem solvers. There are better function-graphing apps (for free) for their smartphones than the 84. Have you seen MyScript? It’s amazing! FluidMath is also incredible. We are a 1-to-1 laptop school, so I have had all of my students install the Desmos app in their Chrome browsers. They love it! The ONLY reason they have to buy a graphing calculator now is for standardized tests, (including AP). Something’s gotta give.

MyScript is cool, and I have had a blast watching teachers’ reaction when I show it off to them, but it’s really just a snazzy calculator. FluidMath I am not familiar with, but now I am off to look it up. Thanks for the tip.

I attended a webinar on the N-Spire app for ipad and I wasn’t impressed. Maybe it was the fact that I couldn’t see the person’s hands as the dragged the axes wider and just saw the result on the screen. Maybe it was the fact that the app didn’t resemble the N-Spire as much as it should have. (I am thinking students who use the app exclusively will be lost when given a handheld.) At this point, I am glad we didn’t make the switch to the more expensive N-Spires. Geogebra and Desmos on laptops are good starting places for technology. Plus free is nice, too!

My son won a lot of math contests and has very good understanding of math. Trick is he never want to use those TI calculators I bought for him. He said his humble brain works so much better than those pricy products designed by a company only interested in profit and growth. Nothing worng with growth and prfit but who is taking care of education?

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