Nspire… Um, Yeah. I have no catchy title for this.

I should have blogged about this DURING the Nspire workshop, but that would’ve been the smart thing to do and I am a procrastinator! Wooo hoo!

Plus, I should add that it’s late… the old attention deficit disorder is in full effect, so you might see random things pop in during the blog by “—->”. Feel free to ignore these.

So the workshop was conducted by the always helpful and BRILLIANT @jwilson828 who I’ve known for years. She is THE ultimate tech guru and just found out she won our state’s PAEMST.

—->Watching “Entrapment”. What’s up with the dude in the diaper? There’s something implied here that I’m just not getting… #naiveIguess

I have to admit that I had mixed feelings about Nspire after attending the T^3 International Conference in Chicago. Part of me WANTED to love it, but a poorly presented statistics session made @druinok and I question if it was just one of the newest fads in technology. And let’s face it – that thing is extremely intimidating if you’ve used TI-82/83+/84SE for the last decade or so. I mean, just LOOK at this sucker!!!

—-> How have I not found The Awesomer before?? I could spend all night here!! Wait, blog first… but it’s cool… NO, blog…

And yes, it is wicked cool. Like superwickedcool. I fell in love with the freakin’ thing as soon as Jennifer handed me the box. For non-nerds, this would be the equivalent of the first time color was added to television (or that’s how it felt in my mind).

I already knew this had great apps for AP Statistics, but I really didn’t think that this would be technology that I would want to use for my Algebra 2 classroom. Jennifer totally changed my mind. I cannot even begin to explain the ideas that she gave me for using JUST the Nspire emulator software as a class discussion tool. Not to mention the Navigator system for instantaneous student feedback. I have ActivExpressions, but they are just NOT mathematically friendly (Sorry, Promethean – you know I love you guys but it’s the truth and I’ve told you that for over 5 years).

Our Nspire workshop was a beginner’s course and there’s just only so much you can do with the wide range of abilities, experience, and course differences. However, just 3 days of using it for the first time gave me a real eye-opening experience to the difference it can make for students (that tidbit to come later).

—-> It just occurred to me that I’m doing a presentation Monday on grant writing and I can’t find a grant for something I want in my classroom. How stupid. Maybe I should be working on that instead… No, finish this first, dummy.

So I tried to take pictures and video during the workshop as much as I could to document my experiences with it. But it was like my kid at Christmas when he wants to do is play with the toy – he doesn’t care about the pictures. I had to force myself to document what I was doing. So this is just the first of many blogs/videos/junk to come from my Nspire journey. Here’s just a taste:

One of the first things we did was to look at a rotating 3D graph that might be used in calculus:

Here’s a vid of it in action (set on autorotate – I got dizzy in manual spin):

Then we talked about a graphing exercise that Jennifer has students do on the first day (very much like @ddmeyer ‘s basketball video):

This is just a picture that is imported into the calculator. You can import ANY picture you want to (the possibilities of finally showing real examples of quadratic and polynomial models of functions are making me GEEK OUT):

You can plot “f(x)= -x” then physically manipulate the graph in order to find a function that fits the model.

Then we can use that model to do all KINDS of things. What’s the max height of the basketball? What height did the basketball leave the ground? What height is the hoop? How long did it take the ball to get to the maximum height? How long did it take the ball to get to the hoop? If the hoop WASN’T in the way, when would the ball hit the ground? How far from the goal is our LeBron-wannabe?

Can you do this with a regular graphing calculator? Duh. But can you imagine how much more sense this will make to a kid who has trouble visualizing a function in the real world? I can draw the first quadrant and label all of that, but for some kids that doesn’t mean SQUAT. THIS picture makes SENSE!! My only concern is that I do a whole day of “50 Ways to Kill Ms. ApproxNorm” where they solve quadratics based on the premise that they’re trying to have me knocked off… I don’t know how I’m going to get THOSE pictures… But wouldn’t that be funny? Or am I just weird? (Wait – don’t answer that.)

In quadratics, we always have the classic box problem. The biggest PROBLEM is that many kids cannot SEE what the heck we’re talking about when we do it. You can cut square corners out of paper all day long for some of them, but it takes too long for others to make that connection for what you’re actually doing. That’s why I loved this:

Take a point on the corner and drag it to make the square corners bigger. Kids get to watch what happens to the height of box as we increase the area of each square. Now we can have those tough conversations about domain and range and they won’t seem so abstract. Is there a maximum cut length I can make for a square or is it infinite? What happens to the volume of the box if I DON’T make a cut?

And here’s some video to go with it:

—->Cereal commercials late at night are just hateful… You know what you’re doing, marketing demons. Freakin’ bloodsucking vampires of my soul in a set of suits trying to make me lust after Cinnamon Toast Crunch. I hate you all. I’m going to get something to eat…

And finally, here’s video of taking an activity that collects realtime data for students to analyze. Love this:

If you teach AP Stats, you’ve seen the LSRL Applet Demo and probably used it with your students to help them understand VISUALLY how we get the LSRL. But guess what – the Nspire does it, too:

Not only that, but you can display a residual plot AT THE SAME TIME:

THIS IS AWESOME because students can actually see how changing data in the scatter plot changes the residual. It was da bomb. And YES, I could have made all of this in color to WOW you, but we is friends – you don’t need that from me. We has trust. {{WHY do I sound like every picture from icanhazcheezburger? Oh yeah – it’s almost 2 a.m. and logic has stepped away from her desk for a while}}.

Other superawesome features include the ability to see all the pages in a “problem set” (forgive me Nspire users if the vocab is wrong). This especially comes in handy during a self-check assessment where students can see immediately which problems they missed and go straight to those pages:

Here’s a shot of the example of the type of question you can ask students in a Quick Poll:

—-> “Edward Scissorhands” is coming on tonight (well, it IS Sunday) on Syfy!! My kid has not seen this yet. #winningwinningwinning

And yeah, it will do the stuff the old calculator does. But colors help me understand – I love how the calculator graphs each new function in a different color. This might be the only “girly” thing about me, I dunno. I can’t match my clothes, but dang it, I can match me some functions:

Overall I was impressed, which is really hard to do when it comes to calculators. I know this isn’t the first COLOR calculator, but I think this is something I definitely want to try in my classroom. At Jennifer’s school, every teacher has a classroom set of Nspires and a Navigator system. We don’t have either in any of our classrooms. I’d like to test drive it and see what it’s like in the students’ hands, then share with my department.

Many of you will disagree and say that this type of tech isn’t needed in the classroom and we can agree to disagree. Jennifer gave a great example of a friend of hers that was instructing an Nspire workshop where an older college professor was loudly complaining that students don’t need access to this type of technology. The instructor said, “Sir, I need you to take your glasses off for the rest of the workshop.” He said, “I’m not taking my glasses off.” She said, “I’m going to have to ask you to remove your glasses because they are a distraction to me and the purpose of this class.” He said, “Lady, if I take my glasses off, I can’t see what you’re trying to show us.” The instructor let that statement hang in the air for a second and then she said, “Exactly. YOU don’t see a need for this technology in the classroom and YOU see it as a distraction because YOU are a math person. Some of your STUDENTS, however, need this technology to SEE those connections. This technology is just as vital to their understanding to see the connections as your glasses are for you to see what we’re doing. Without your glasses, everything is a blur. For some of your students, without technology MATHEMATICS is a blur. Our job is to help them see.” I thought that rocked.

So look how far we’ve come since the 8-big video games to what we can do now. Pretty wicked awesome if you ask me. But I do miss a ton of these games…. This may seem random, but I just wanna post it so GET OVER IT!!!