Friday, June 27, 2008

US Calculus Summit

I was privileged to be a part of a "meeting of the minds" in Dallas, Texas these past couple of days. A dozen leading calculus educators from around the country were invited to gather to discuss the future of technology and how it can be best used as a learning and teaching tool. The combined number of years of experience in calculus education represented by those present in the room, I estimated to be nearing 500 years. This is a longer period of time than the subject itself has been a discipline of study. The two men recognized to be the co-discovers of calculus (although independent of each other), Newton and Leibniz, were born in the 1640s. (See my website for more history of calculus. UPDATE: My school is doing some server maintenance, so that site will be down from 5/30 to about 6/3)

Despite our combined experience, it was a diverse group. There were a few of us who primarily consider ourselves high school teachers, and there were community college, university and ivy league professors. Several had authored textbooks or are facing a publishing deadline. One introduced himself as being unsuccessfully retired. Many in the group consult for College Board's AP Calculus, head important committees, and contribute regularly to electronic discussion groups.

As the summit was hosted by Texas Instruments Education Technology division, they explained some of what they were working on to continue to improve the TI-Nspire family of products. There will be substantial operating system updates twice a year for the foreseeable future. I know I'll be watching for new releases and the impressive new features to keep my TI-Nspire updated (version 1.4 is coming soon).

We gave feedback about the TI-Nspire's pedagogical usefulness, explored the methods and benefits of teaching with CAS, and discussed professional development best practices. TI also gave us demonstrations about data collection and formative assessment capabilities for the not too distance future releases of TI-Nspire.

I think everyone involved found that our time was well spent.

Now, I'm up in Chicagoland speaking at a couple of conferences to better equip, train and inspire math and science teachers.

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