Calculator hacks

I recently came across this blog post by @RGS_maths where they shared some calculator tips. Many of these I had come across before but the one that stood out for me and got me all excited was number 5: Verify your algebra. To be honest, the only time I had ever come across the “VERIF” mode was when students would thrust their calculators at me displaying “TRUE/FALSE” demanding that I fix it for them. I had never actually taken the time to find out what this mode does (I keep meaning to read that tiny manual!) or how it might be used. I have had a bit of a play around over the past couple of days and I’ve found that not only can you use it to verify your identities, you can also use it to check to see if you have solved an equation correctly (store your solution as a letter before you enter the verify mode). I have just created this video to demonstrate this:

Anyway, I thought I would share how I plan to use this new found knowledge with my year 11 class.. I came across this idea off the fantastic and super creative @Ms_Kmp who shared it a long, long time ago (a clever pun which you may get once you read her post!). I have adapted it for the calculator we use at school (Casio fx-85GT PLUS) and created a poster template for the higher GCSE. I have left this in word format so you can change and develop it to meet the needs of your own students.

Download (DOCX, 124KB)

I plan to give them this sheet at the start of the lesson and for them to answer the questions in their books.

Download (DOCX, 67KB)

They will then put these away and as I demonstrate how they can use the different functions on their calculators to CHECK their answers to the problems they have solved, they will annotate their posters. Finally, the students will then use their calculators, along with their new found skills,  to check the work they did at the start of the lesson. I hope to get them in the habit of using their calculator regularly in this way as a checking tool.

I hope you find this idea useful and are able to adapt it for the calculators you use at your school (the dream is for us to upgrade to Casio fx-991ES PLUS, but they are still a little pricey for our KS4 students)

Edit: I have created this playlist to go with the worksheet above – Useful if, like me, you don’t have a calculator emulator. Make sure you highlight to your students that these should be used to check solutions, rather than replacing the methods and understanding they have been taught in class.

If you want more calculator fun, check out these great videos by @GuideCalculator here and the super fab calculator guides by one of my year 12 students here.

If you have any comments, thoughts or ideas, please share. Also, if you haven’t done so already, make sure you subscribe below.

photo credit: Calculator 3 via photopin (license)


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