Why I Stopped Letting My Students Use Calculators in Class!

I Stopped Letting My Students Use Calculators in Class!

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This article will push some peoples buttons I'm sure. However, I feel it is something that needs discussed. My school is one to one with iPads. Here's my concern.

Why do we need calculators anymore?

What is the reasoning behind needing to learn to use the next new TI Calculator? Am I missing something or are these big bulky calculators completely obsolete and only being used because of testing?
When in the real world is a student ever going to whip out a big graphing calculator and use it? When would they ever choose that tool over an app on their iPad or phone so solve a problem?

My students NEVER use graphing calculators ever!

We use apps for everything. There is a fine line between teaching to tests, teaching students what they need to know about the content, and PREPARING THEM FOR THE REAL WORLD. I lean towards teaching them to use current and updated technology. Most of our students will not go on to be math majors in college but they will have to know how to use the latest technologies.

Are we doing our students a disservice by using ancient technology?

My opinion is YES! I want my students to look back on their experience in my class and say "he taught me to think outside the box and that there is always a way to find the answer I need" rather than giving up because they need a graphing calculator or some other form of outdated technology that they forget how to use or worse yet isn't even for sale anymore.
I would like to know how many you are still using graphing calculators in your class room. Not ones on tablets, but actual graphing calculators like a TI-84+ or a TI-Inspire.
In the comments below we would love to hear your feedback and how you handle this in your classrooms!

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  1. I agree that calculators are antiquated. I hate using them. However, they are needed for SAT and ACT tests. So I teach the kids to use them.

    Yet after reading your post I started thinking about how the struggle to learn how to use the calculator can be good. It can help the students develop the skills they may need to deal with different technological platforms and technology levels. This struggle may help them develop “elasticity” or the ability to stretch, persevere, and grow. So I guess I will grumble a bit less and try to look at the possible positives.

  2. I equally use (TI-84+) graphing calculators as well as the Desmos graphing calculator on our chromebooks. However, most of the teachers at my school do NOT have chromebooks or iPads available to use in the classroom. (I was fortunate to be able to get 1 per pair of students.) We have a terrible problem with cellphones being used to take photos of tests, watching youtube or playing games during class when students are supposed to be learning, so cellphone apps are out of the question.

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