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Marion ISD Employs The Latest Technology To Advance Student's Understanding Of Math Concepts

Students already demonstrating better understanding, increased engagement in the classroom

May 20, 2008

MARION, IOWA, May 20, 2008- In January, Marion Independent School District (ISD) introduced new learning technology to high school math students, and educators are already talking about the positive impact on student engagement and attitudes toward math.

The school district deployed 100 of Texas Instruments TI-Nspire and TI-Nspire Computer Algebra Systems (CAS), in the school's integrated Algebra/Geometry, integrated Algebra/Trigonometry and Calculus classes. The TI-Nspire and TI-Nspire CAS learning handhelds, which are half the size and weight of a tablet PC and include a large screen and mouse-like controls, build on Texas Instruments' widely used graphing calculator technology with additional features that allow students to explore math concepts more deeply through real-time interaction and split-screens that show math problems in different formats.

"Incorporating technology into my lesson plans is helping students grasp math concepts easier and faster," said Chris Martin, math educator at Marion High School. "For example, the graphing technology allows students to visibly see a math concept, such as a mean or a standard deviation, on the screen of the handheld technology. By seeing numbers on a line plot some students grasp the concept quicker, and the technology allows students to move the plotted numbers around to gauge the change's impact on the mean and standard deviation. Teaching this concept to students used to take 15 or more iterations. Now students see and grasp the concept in real time which greatly impacts their understanding."

Student feedback suggests that the interaction prompted by the TI-Nspire makes it easier to understand math concepts. Marion HS math educators report recognizing the benefits of the technology, as they see first-hand students' ability to understand math equations and relationships faster than through traditional teaching methods.

"We were looking for a way to get the students excited about math while increasing their understanding of concepts," said Martin. "The ability to see multiple representations of a single problem teaches the concept through a variety of paths and encourages the exploration and discovery of math in ways that were impossible to demonstrate side by side in real time. Plus students like using technology in class. It keeps them engaged and eager to learn."

Many of the math educators plan to attend training on the TI-Nspire during the summer and focus on further implementing the technology into the classroom curriculum in the fall.

"When we started investigating the addition of technology to classrooms, the TI-Nspire technology was just becoming available," said Martin. "After interacting with the handhelds at a workshop, the district decided to invest in the technology. At Marion High School, technology is an integral part of our curriculum and the TI-Nspire is a tool that we now use to help develop a deeper understanding of the concepts we teach, not just too give students the answers. The TI-Nspire's ability to demonstrate mathematics in an interactive environment and illustrate mathematical connections between various applications creates richer investigations of mathematical concepts and ultimately to stronger math students. "

Developed in direct partnership with educators from around the world, the TI-Nspire was designed with students in mind to provide easy-to-use functionality that not only helps teachers improve student's math skills, but also helps improve their attitudes about math. The technology is designed to deepen student understanding of critical math concepts and increase student engagement in the math classroom.

"The effective use of graphing technology can increase math learning as well as lead to significant improvement in student's attitudes toward math," said Melendy Lovett, president, Texas Instruments Education Technology. "An understanding of math better prepares students for college and the workplace, and the TI-Nspire is designed to help them understand concepts on a deeper level, ultimately increasing achievement. We are really excited about Marion ISD using the TI-Nspire technology and are collaborating to ensure their teachers are well-prepared to use the handhelds to best impact student understanding."

About the TI-Nspire Math Learning Products
The TI-Nspire handheld includes two interchangeable keypads that allow students to use the new TI-Nspire features or use a keypad that mimics the TI-84™ graphing calculator, which is a standard for math education in U.S. schools. The TI-Nspire CAS offers a stationary keypad and CAS capabilities for more advanced math and engineering courses. As a tool for students to explore, evaluate and simplify expressions, numeric problems and variables in symbolic form, the TI-Nspire CAS allows students to learn to solve complex equations step-by-step.
TI-Nspire handhelds allow students to see and make connections among up to four representations of a problem at one time, on one screen, including graphical, algebraic, numeric, geometric or written formats. The benefits of this approach are based on research that shows each student learns math in different ways, whether it's a graph, table, equation or written form. Students learn concepts more readily and with deeper understanding when they see a problem represented in different ways and are able to choose and evaluate various problem-solving strategies.
TI conducted extensive research, product testing and sought teacher input when developing the TI-Nspire products. The company added computer-like functionality and features to the handheld to help students broaden critical thinking skills and make meaningful connections between the different ways math is represented. TI-Nspire technology allows students to change values and observe the results in real time, which dramatically reduces the time needed to see how various concepts are linked and allows teachers to focus on teaching math, not manipulating multiple technologies.
For more information about TI-Nspire math learning products or Texas Instruments other products and services, please visit education.ti.com.

About Texas Instruments
Education Technology, a business of Texas Instruments, provides a wide range of advanced tools connecting the classroom experience with real-world applications and enabling students and teachers to explore math and science interactively. Designed with leading educators and researchers, Texas Instruments educational technology and services are tested against recognized third-party research on effective instruction and improved student learning. Such research shows that use of graphing calculators and wireless classroom networks in the classroom helps teachers implement instructional strategies that lead to student collaboration, higher student interest, engagement and achievement in math. For more than 15 years, TI has worked closely with educators and administrators to develop student-focused curricular and supplemental classroom materials, and it supports the world's largest professional development organization for the appropriate use of educational technology. More information is available at education.ti.com.

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¹SRI International research report, November 2006. http://www.ti-nspire.com/tools/nspire/resources/tinspire_research.pdf

For more information:
Mari Hancock
GolinHarris for Texas Instruments