Monday, March 11, 2013

Al Coons Attends TI Calculator Convention

I attended the 25th TI - "T^3" Convention in Philadelphia Friday and Saturday.  Below is what I learned.


T^3 was again a very well run, accesible conference.  I would continue to rate it as among the top 3 yearly conferences along with Exeter and NCSSM.  Many of the most innovative and powerful thinkers/creators in secondary mathematics present.

 It has relatively few high school offerings but there was always enough to find something interesting.  I usually had to select between two or three sessions I wanted to see in each time slot.  

It serves both TI-84 and NSpire users, although there is increasing emphasis on Nspire.

What's New

  • Nspire for the iPad.  A lot of excitement here.  Consensus is that TI did a great job for a first implementation of software on a new device.  Unless you are a developer, there is not too much missing and it seems stable.  As I wrote to you last week, I find it better than the HH (hand held) version and often equal or better than the computer version as a result of it good use the iPad interaction metaphor.  
  • 3-D Plotting
    • There were multiple sessions on using the 3-D plotting features:
      •  I enjoyed two wonderful college teachers from Columbia who spoke almost no English present the basics of 3-D plotting and controlling it with sliders.  Made me think of the "Proof Without Words" section of the MAA Magazine.  
      • An incredible session with a university teacher from BC Columbia who used CAS and 3-D plotting to compute and visualize (plot) solutions (intersections) of function of multiple inputs.
  • In a recent Department Meeting I suggested teaching plotting in 3-D should begin with plotting individual points.  This can easily be done in parametric mode.  However, a point is displayed as an individual pixel in Nspire and so it is very hard to see.  In Mac grapher, an individual points is enlarged so it can be seen.  There are many requests for this to be done in the Nspire.
  • CAS
    • Not new, but lots of sessions on "How to Implement/Use CAS in the Classroom"
  • Availability of Nspire Documents/Apps
Personal Comment:  There are more and more great pre-made apps.  I believe Nspire does a great job (as do some other software) at supporting the goal to show the three approaches (analytical, tabular/data, and dynamic visualization) of given problems.  There are many great apps available, but like all technology we have to spend the time to find and share them.  Two great places to start are: