Calculus and the Art of Questioning – #NspiredatT3

It falls in the category of “ask; don’t tell.” We used to think that kids needed carefully scaffolded, guided learning experiences. We now think learners need opportunities to explore, ask what if, and test their ideas instead of us telling them what to think and do. We know there needs to be a balance of both.

What if we offered Calculus students a TI-Nspire™ document to explore and develop questions and hypotheses? What if we used student questions to develop a path to learning? Can we lead learning by following student questions?

In The Falconer; What We Wish We Had Learned in School, Grant Lichtman writes:

Good teachers ensure that their students learn the subject material to an acceptable or superior level. Great teachers all do one thing well: they create dissonance in the minds of their students and guide them in the resolution of that dissonance.

In another of our the T³ International Conference presentations in Las Vegas, Sam and I are going to share our thinking, our documents, and our ideas about creating dissonance and offering learners the opportunity to ask questions and investigate first.

Screen Shot 2014-03-07 at 9.54.19 AM

Here are the files we are using as starters for this conversation (We learn and share; download these Nspire files from our Dropbox. Each screenshot is hyperlinked to the corresponding file if you just want one or two.):

03-07-2014 Image001 03-07-2014 Image002 03-07-2014 Image003 03-07-2014 Image004 03-07-2014 Image005 03-07-2014 Image006

We’d love your feedback and your questions.  We’d also love to know if you try this with learners.


  1. I have found that the first few times you do NSpire activities, especially if you don’t do them often, that students really struggle with the notion of exploring and learning. This is even true for classes which do non-tech assisted exploration easily.

    I’m doing the exploring derivative activity next week with a group who are not unfamiliar with the Nspire and I wholly expect to have Calculator freeze among some of the students. It’s good I’m not against bribery (candy) to get other students to share out some of their discoveries with lagging students/groups.


    • Hi Scott. I agree with you for new-to-Nspire learners. Our calculus learners have been using TI-Nspire since they were in 8th grade Algebra I. We feel no need to resort to bribery. Our seniors find it intriguing to “figure out the puzzle” and love that we teach through their questions instead of a pre-designed path.

      Let us know how it goes next week!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.