Today went very well and I think I found a balance for calculators in one class. Tuesday, I introduced/reviewed the Pythagorean Theorem in geometry.
I had the students work some basic problems by hand. I started by doing a few problems on the board that they copied down. Next step was to have them try some themselves but after a couple minutes I worked it on the board in case they got stuck. It worked quite well.
Today, I had them work more problems using a calculator so they could concentrate on when to add or subtract. I gave them the if there is a hypotenuse length, they subtract to find the missing side and if they only have side lengths, they add to find the missing hypotenuse. It was great because they spent a lot of time on learning when to add vs subtract and they didn't have to worry about their math.
At the end of the class period, a few students bemoaned the fact that class was over already. That was so great. In addition, the worksheet they used today included problems on using the theorem to determine if the triangle is acute, right or obtuse.
Monday, we will stray to another worksheet long enough to learn to use the theorem to decide the type of triangle. I will let them use the calculators again because it seems to take some stress off and allows them a chance to learn the material.
From here, the students will be learning trig ratios and they need the Pythagorean Theorem for those. I think I'll also look for some real life examples so they know there is a use for this material.