The year is off to a great start! Algebra II just finished up their first chapter and Algebra I is looking to do the same next week. In the first couple of weeks all students have been introduced to graphing calculators. Specifically, TI-83 and TI-84 graphing calculators. We will use these graphing calculators throughout the year in all Algebra classes. I have had a few parents contact me about purchasing these calculators for their students and wanted to share a little information to help you make the best decision for your family.
We are fortunate enough to have 30 of these calculators at school for the students to use while they are in class. So having access to calculators while at school should not be a problem. If students need to use these calculators after school is finished they can come to my room and check one out for the evening.
Another option is for students to use an online version of the calculator. Every student should have used the online calculator by now on their Chromebook. It looks and functions exactly like the handheld version but runs on a website. The biggest positive about this alternative is that it is free for students to use, however, it requires an internet connection. If Wi-Fi is hard to come by where you live this may be a poor alternative.
The last option is for students to buy a calculator themselves. Brand new these calculators cost around $100. Wal-Mart sells them for around $80 near the beginning of each school year as part of their back to school sales. Another alternative I usually suggest is to buy a used one on sites like EBay. You can usually find used ones for around $40. They are even cheaper at the end of the semester when college students try to sell their old calculators for some quick cash. If your student plans on going to college and taking any type of math course, a graphing calculator will be necessary. The convenience of a handheld calculator that is your own will be well worth the investment. Of course I may be biased, I own over a dozen calculators that all have their own special purposes.
I hope this information is useful to you and lets you make an informed decision. If you ever need to contact me my e-mail is firstname.lastname@example.org. I am also available before or after school if your student ever needs any help.