Hey all! This is my first year teaching middle school math (well, it's my first year teaching period, actually) and I'm curious when, if ever, you have the students use calculators to solve problems versus doing long division and multiplication problems. For example, my 8th grade math class just finished doing two-step equations involving rational numbers. One of the problems was something like 0.28x + 0.03 = 0.56. I had them do the long division, but then I got to thinking, would it be okay to just have them use a calculator? Let's face it - if I were to solve this problem, I sure as heck wouldn't do long division! And my 7th graders are reviewing mean/median/mode/range. Should I allow them to use calculators or should they be showing all their work? I guess I just don't know when it's okay for my students to use calculators, besides checking their work. What do you veteran math teachers think?

In my building, it's sophomore year when they hit trig. Before that, they should be using those arithmetic skills. You know... use it or lose it. Have them multiply each term by 100. Your equation becomes 28x + 3 =56. It won't kill them. Please don't let them use calculators in middle school. There's no need for it-- the work isn't that hard!!!!!

I only rarely let my kids use calculators. Usually only if we are doing some kind of project with a lot of calculations, because otherwise the projects take FOREVER and they never quite get the whole concept why we're doing them! On test and quizzes though - no calculators ever. As Aliceacc mentioned, once we start introducing some trig into Geometry this year, I'll probably let them use them then, but not before.

In my personal opinion, they must have a really good working knowledge of long division, mult., etc. I'm ashamed to say that I forgot the whole concept of having a remainder until I had a student in my study hall ask for help with algebraic long division (or whatever the proper name is for X^2+4x+2 / X+2 is). After you see that they have mastered that, then I would consider giving them harder problems which require a calculators--no need to have them dividing 250 by 5. (So if it's more advanced stuff, I say they should be allowed to use it---mainly because when they get to HS and have to use those complicated TI84's or w.e. they're called, it takes a lot of memorization of how to work it.)

NEVER!!!!!!! Okay, sorry for shouting, but this is one of my biggest pet peeves. The kids need to know the traditional algorithms as well as they know their names or algebra can become a living hades for everybody involved. I don't allow calculators at all, for anything, ever, in my classroom. If they ask, I tell them to use the one between their ears.

Oh I meant to say no need to have them dividing 250 by 5 on a calculator. That's easy division, but stuff like 66.0187/.34 I would use a calculator.

I KNEW I was missing something there! But I stil won't let them use a calculator, even for the messy stuff. To be honest, the messy stuff doesn't come up all that often.

I agree with you Soccer Dad..... In a few short years we wont be teaching "long division" anyway........

We don't make an issue of it at my school. I let my kids use them (I've taught Algebra I and Geometry). It honestly does not bother me, I'm more worried about my kids actually learning my lesson, if computation hasn't been taught by now I try and give them short cuts around using the calculator, but if they are going to use it often that is their call.

Did you ever watch kids taking the SAT??? The ones who know what they're doing stop, read the question, think for a second, and then begin work. The ones who struggle more, read the question, plugging the numbers furiously into their calculators for each and every question. Then they assume that if the calculator gives them the answer, it must be right, even if that answer makes no sense at all!!!!!!! I'm less interested in today's math topic than the big picture: teaching my kids to think.

I follow our state guidelines. On their state tests there are certain things that they are allowed to use a calculator on the test for. I teach it without a calculator, but for the test that I give I let them use it. If they are not allowed to use a calculator on the state test, they don't use them at all in class. For mean/median/mode/range they are allowed to use the calculators so for the class test they can use it. Adding and subtracting, multiplying and dividing they aren't so they don't. Now, dividing decimals they are required to know how to do it BOTH ways according to the state standards, so we'll do it pencil/paper first THEN with a calculator. They will have 2 quizzes, one with and one without.