Back for a second day at the Texas Instruments Teachers Teaching with Technology Conference, and hearing some great ideas from the sessions I have attended. The highlight of my day today was a panel discussion of the Nspire app for iPad, which I have just loaded. The panel was faciltated by TI brand ambassador Dr. Mayim Bialik, who has been a presence throughout the conference on sessions regarding the new app. Dr. Bialik was joined on the panel by teachers Sheri Abel and Stephanie Ogden, who piloted the Nspire app in their classrooms.
Stephanie summarized her feelings of the ipad app: “This is what other instructional tools aspire to be”, while Sheri shared a level of engagement from her students she had not before experienced. As one example, Sheri had students drag and re-drag axes and functions in order to develop a conceptual understanding of domain and range. The ability to drag and discover has been the greatest source of positive discussion from the app this weekend, and is seen as a gamechanger.
The opportunity to graph functions in color, and have a color background, makes it so much easier to identify and compare graphs. Pictures can be added as backgrounds. The calculator comes with 5 pictures, just begging for function-modeling, and your own photos can be added by using TI Connect.
No more AAA batteries! If your math department spends crazy money each year just on batteries, this is a huge improvement. Calculators can be recharged using cables, or a docking station. In chatting with TI trainers, they tell me that a calculator will hold a change for about 20-30 hours, or about 2 weeks of occasional use by a student.
On Friday, I had the opportunity to sit down with Mari and Dale from TI to discuss some of my concerns about the latest wave of TI products, in particular that there is so much new stuff coming out at the same time….so much so that it becomes tricky for teachers to select a product and standardize their building technologies. Dale, who has been involved with TI for 16 years, did an excellent job of walking me through TI’s thought process. With the 84 color, TI has acknowledged that, while the Nspire and its iPad app have improved educational capabilities, the is a large core audience which is attached to the 84. Ignoring them or forcing them into the Nspire would not be wise, or very nice. Also, the overall look of the 84 had not changed for some time, even with vast improvements, and decreased cost, of memory and color screens. So, now we have the 84 C! And its improved interface is worth considering for your classroom.
If you read my blog post a few weeks ago, where I broke up with TI, I need to give you a status update on our relationship. I’m happy to say that we talked things out, and I will be happy to be in a relationship with TI for quite some time!