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Using Networked Graphing Calculators for Formative Assessment

Using Networked Graphing Calculators for Formative Assessment

Over a wireless network, students can contribute mathematical content to the classroom, such as algebraic functions or graphs – content that is much richer than the answer to a multiple-choice question.

Mrs. J, an experienced science teacher in an urban middle school, participated in a large field trial testing the effectiveness of networked graphing calculators. When district-level tests had revealed that her students struggled to interpret graphs, Mrs. J used the graphing calculator-based wireless system to implement weekly practice on graph interpretations, overcoming her initial feeling that "technology is just overwhelming." She reported that "I have taught for 18 years and I have been in seventh-grade science for about 15 of the 18...and there are things that I have always been really sure have understood completely. Now I see what they are thinking. And I am like, whoa, I am just amazed."

Mrs. J used the insights into her students' misunderstandings as revealed by the graphs they constructed to guide her instructional decisions.

Mrs. J also found the classroom network technology beneficial for providing specific help for individual students: "We were doing earth and sun relationships...revolution versus rotation...and...I was able to...see who was making those mistakes still.... So it helped me because I could pinpoint [students' weaknesses] without embarrassing them."

Source: Case study submitted to the NETP web-site,

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