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TI InterActive!" in the Classroom

Rationale of the materials

Why TI InterActive!"?

Why develop teaching materials in the TI InterActive! environment? As we see it, TI InterActive! has several characteristics that are powerful for educational purposes. TI InterActive! integrates different kinds of functionality, for which one needed different software packages in the past. We mention the combination of text editing software (cf. Word®), graphing software (cf. graphing calculators), computer algebra systems (cf. Derive", Maple"), spreadsheet software (cf. Excel®), and an Internet browser (cf. Internet Explorer®). On the one hand TI InterActive! is the flexible integration of these features within one single environment, which is powerful. On the other hand, each of these software specific applications provides the full range of options which one would expect. For example, the text editing features of TI InterActive! include importing pictures and exporting files to Word or html formats. The computer algebra module covers the whole range of algebraic options that are usually found in computer algebra systems. Spreadsheet files can be read with Excel. Furthermore, TI InterActive! offers a programming language and the ability to connect to data loggers such as the CBL 2" and CBR", as well as Texas Instruments graphing calculators. An additional advantage is that the TI InterActive! interface is compatible to standards set by Windows® and Office® software. For mathematical operations the commands are similar to those for graphing and symbolic handheld devices such as the TI-83 Plus and Voyage" 200.

The integration of general features such as text editing and a browser, with mathematical features for graphing and algebra allows TI InterActive! to be used as a learning environment for students. Tasks can be delivered in TI InterActive!; meanwhile, students can work on such tasks within the same environment, using it as their notebook, which they may hand in to be assessed by their teacher.

How to use TI InterActive!?

How can we capitalize on the potentially powerful features of the TI InterActive! software environment? This, in fact, is the main challenge of our work. We have already indicated that TI InterActive! may be used as both an environment to deliver tasks, say, as the students' textbook, and also as the students' notebook. Because many teachers don't want students to write in their textbooks, and because we wanted to maintain a clear distinction between the text presented to the students and their elaboration of it, we decided to have separated notebook files, in which the students work. These notebook files are the only files that need to be handed in to be evaluated by the teacher. In these files, students are required to present their mathematical calculations (often in the form of formulas, graphs and tables) and their explanations, reflections and arguments, usually in natural language. As far as 'textbook files' are concerned, we used the TI InterActive! hyperlink option to structure the materials so that students can follow their personal learning trajectory through the materials. This contrasts with the linear, sequential format of hardcopy materials. We hoped that this hyperlink organization of the texts would help students to keep track of the main issues, to get more information or help if needed and to advance more quickly through material if possible.

For mathematical purposes, TI InterActive! acts in two ways. First, it can be used as a 'mathematical assistant' to carry out operations that students could do by themselves, but which would be time consuming and the source of calculation errors. Secondly, TI InterActive! is an exploration environment in which 'mathematical experiments' can be carried out. The results of such experiments may enhance students' thinking and foster mathematical insight.

As far as physics, chemistry and biology are concerned, TI InterActive! is used to support data collection with data loggers. After the experimental phase TI InterActive!'s mathematical and statistical features can be used for data analysis. We decided to use version 1.1 in order to make materials available to those who did not upgrade to version 1.2 or 1.3. However all materials can be used in TI InterActive! 1.2 and 1.3 as well.

How to use this collection?

This collection of materials consists of two parts. Part I contains student units, which are ready for use in the classroom. Each of these units is comprised of a number of TI InterActive! files which are connected by hyperlinks so that students can find their way through. A teacher guide is provided to assist the teacher with lesson preparation. The units cover a range of subjects and levels. The table of contents provides an overview and the teacher guides contain more detailed information. To use Part I materials please read the installation instructions in the introduction to Part I.

Part II contains teaching ideas which are less elaborated than the Part I student units. Most of these ideas can be used as an inspiration source for teaching, but may need some customizing for your educational situation. Again, the table of contents provides an overview. Please read the introduction to Part II before using one of the teaching ideas.