Texas Instruments' TI InterActive! 1.1

TI InterActive! is an integrated software package that assists teachers in developing lessons and in-class activities that promote the understanding of math and science concepts, and the improvement of students' problem-solving skills. Designed for the Windows platform, TI InterActive! has word processing capabilities that have been enhanced with the graphing functionality of the TI-83 Plus, as well as the symbolical algebraic system of the TI-92 and TI-89.

The program allows students to write lab reports, graph data and perform algebraic computations all within one document. It enables teachers to create interactive worksheets for students to investigate mathematical functions and concepts graphically, analytically and numerically, and then communicate the discoveries they have made. The program also has a built-in Web browser that lets the user extract tabular data quickly into the document to be graphed and modeled.

Most classrooms today have a computer with Internet access, but many math and science classrooms do not have class sets of graphing products like the TI-83 Plus. In a classroom with just one computer, I use TI Interactive! to prompt student discussion when we are learning about a new function and the transformations of this function. I change the parameters using the slider bar, and ask the students to discuss in their small groups what effect changing this parameter has on the parent function.

In the lab, my students extract data from the Internet, find a mathematical model that fits the data, and interpolate and extrapolate information about the event based on their model. Using TI InterActive!, I save an entire class period. Before we had this program, my class would go to the computer lab and spend the entire time copying and inputting data from the Internet into their handheld graphing products. Now inputting data takes about five seconds, letting instructors move onto the important concepts of the lesson, instead of relying on the students to comprehend the lesson on their own.

Strengths and Weaknesses

TI InterActive! is simple to use compared to the learning curve required by other math and science software. The product not only graphs, but also allows students and teachers to label their graphs - coordinates and elements - easily. The draw features in the graphing environment allow us to create tangent lines, asymptotes and other components of the graph in addition to the function. The program lets students quickly extract data from the Internet and data-collecting devices, such as Calculator-Based Ranger (CBR) and CBL2, and write up lab reports using the graphing, algebraic and word processing capabilities. Teachers can create quizzes, in-class activities, tests and homework assignments. These activities can be saved in multiple formats, including HTML, Microsoft Word and Rich Text Format (RTF).

TI InterActive! works with TI's family of graphing products, including the TI-83, TI-83 Plus, TI-89 and TI-92, as well as the CBR and CBL2 data-collecting devices, but these products are not required. Yet, despite the program's benefits, its word processing capabilities need further development. For one thing, the spell checker is not automatic. My students would like the next version to include automatic formatting capabilities, because algebraic and graphing objects are more cumbersome than pictures to format in text documents.

Jill Lovorn Gough
The Kiski School
Saltsburg, PA

Contact Information
Texas Instruments
Dallas, TX
(800) 842-2737

This article originally appeared in the 05/01/2002 issue of THE Journal.

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