Can I do CAS?

I promise I am working on another CAS lesson to share (Hint: think proportionality) but I also love to share stories of students’ first impressions of a CAS device.  As most of you know by now for me this is the TI-Nspire CX CAS handheld or the TI-Nspire CAS iPad app.  In this case it was the handheld.

This week my students took a categorical self-assessment on categories such as utilization of  class time, level of effort, learning new skills, staying focused on assignments, etc.  Next the students averaged their rating for an overall percentage.  They had their choice of a TI-84 Plus, a TI-84 Plus CE, their phone, the computer calculator, or the TI-Nspire CX CAS handheld to do the calculations.  Fifty percent of the students chose the CAS handheld.  Now our CAS handhelds are new to all of these students at this time.  I did not give any instruction I promise.  I just handed them out.  Only one student had a question about how to operate and that was because it opened on the setup screen.  The only other question I received was, “Why does it give me a fraction instead of a decimal when I divide?”  Now talk about a teaching moment!  This happened in six different classes, grades 7th-12th, gifted students to students with 504’s and IEP’s.  Merry Christmas to me!

Moral of the story

One of the biggest obstacles I have to getting teachers to use CAS is they claim that students won’t know how to use them and they do not have the time or knowledge to teach them.  I just proved no EXTRA teaching is necessary and the teaching you do need will be math skills and practices that should be in every class.  I also want to add the Texas Instruments has getting started docs and tutorials for all of their devices for anyone willing to look at them.

So can I do CAS?  The answer is YES!  Everyone can do CAS.