Thursday, January 7, 2016

Thursday Tool School: Calculator Challenges- The Broken Calculator

Calculators have been the source of much debate over the years as educators weigh in on their purpose and usefulness in the classroom. On one hand, many educators feel that it is our job to teach students how to compute with the operations without the use of technology. On the other hand, many others believe that calculators are a regular part of our technological society and students should have experience using this tool. 

Regardless of our professional feelings, calculators are wonderful tools for the classroom and can provide valuable learning opportunities for our students. In fact, in the Common Core State Standards for Math, Mathematical Practice Standard 5 requires that students use "tools strategically." To support this goal, during the month of January, I will highlight a variety of activities using calculators that can be used to challenge your students in the math classroom. 

Today's calculator challenge involves the idea of a broken calculator where many of the keys have been damaged and are inoperable. The challenge requires students to use the remaining keys to obtain different values. The challenge is displayed below. 

Clipart courtesy of Hidesy's Clipart
Note: It may be a worthwhile investigation to wait before presenting the full challenge and provide students with an opportunity to play with the calculator and find some values on their own. Then reveal the full challenge and allow students to cross off values which they found previously and move on to the others. 

Part of this challenge is included in the "Calculator Chaos" game from the Math Playground website. Click the link above to explore more challenges of this type on their website. 

Sound Off! How do you use calculators in the classroom?

1 comment:

  1. Such helpful ideas for getting the kids to learn math while using calculators. I bet they love it.