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Clemson U Puts Graphing Calculator at Front of Teacher Training Class

The Casio Prizm is a graphing calculator that has a high-resolution color LCD display and functions to assist with math lessons.
The Casio Prizm is a graphing calculator that has a high-resolution color LCD display and functions to assist with math lessons.

Clemson University in South Carolina will be the home of an expanded professional development program for math teachers sponsored by Casio's Education Division. Known as the Center of Academic Training, the joint effort will implement ideas developed through Clemson's Inquiry in Motion Institute and its offshoot, the Center of Excellence for Inquiry in Mathematics and Science. Both programs are co-directed by Bob Horton, a professor of secondary math education at Clemson's school of education, and Jeff Marshall, a science educator.

At the heart of teacher education will be Clemson's "4E x 2 Instructional Model," a model for teaching that uses inquiry-based instruction. Inquiry engages students in solving problems that have meaning for them and doing experiments and explorations to learn more about the topic. "4E x 2" stands for the combined "engage, explore, explain, and extend," and two other components: formative assessment and student reflection.

Casio became involved through Horton, who has consulted with the company's education division for a decade in his efforts to find the best approaches for teachers to use calculators in the classroom.

"This partnership with Casio will enable us to help make mathematics meaningful for students," said Horton. "With tools such as Casio's Prizm, we can engage students in explorations that delve into important ideas and encourage critical thinking about content. Too many people, including adults, have not developed the ability to think and reason mathematically. When we use technology such as graphing calculators appropriately, students will not only have the skills they need for success in tomorrow's world, but they will have a much deeper understanding of the power, the beauty and the connections that math has to offer."

The Prizm is a graphing calculator that has a high-resolution color LCD display and functions to assist with math lessons. The latter includes a "picture plot" function, which allows the user to graph math expressions on top of real-life images, allowing for more visual, discovery-based learning.

This month, the new Casio center is hosting a "train-the-trainer" session for the company's lead trainers. Casio will also train the entire math division at Lakeside Middle School, an Anderson, SC school, on the Prizm as part of a research project, which will determine how the use of the calculators affects students' achievements and attitudes. In August the middle school will open as Lakeside Middle School of Inquiry and Innovation, a magnet school with a focus on science, technology, engineering, and math.

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a writer who covers technology and business for a number of publications. Contact her at dian@dischaffhauser.com.

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