Several years ago, I created this trigonometry calculator skills pop quiz to give to my Pre-Calculus students before we learn to use our calculators for evaluating trig functions. Students tend to think that these calculator-based problems are super easy and that they don’t need to be taught how to type trig functions into their calculator. After all, there are sin, cos, and tan buttons on the calculator. How hard can it be?!?
So, on the day that we are set to start evaluating with our calculator, I announce that there will be a POP QUIZ. We all know that these two words strike fear into students’ hearts. I usually get a bit of outrage from my students, especially when they realize that the four questions on the quiz look like nothing we have done thus far in the year. I smile and encourage them to do their best. Usually, I read the instructions to remind them that they can use their calculator.
After students work through the four questions, I reassure them that I’m not actually going to take a grade for the pop quiz. I just wanted to see what they could figure out by themselves before we start the day’s lesson.
I pass out the day’s notes which feature the same four problems from the pop quiz.
We go through the four problems one at a time. First, I ask students to share their solutions. Almost always, there will be 2-3 different answers. I reveal the correct answer, then we discuss the proper way to type each expression into the calculator. I don’t move on until everyone has been able to type it in properly to show the proper result.
Then, we write ourselves a little reminder of what to watch out for when evaluating trig functions using our calculators. Students tend to pay a lot more attention to our notes since they have seen first hand how easy it is to type in a trig problem incorrectly.
I was inspired to create this pop quiz/set of notes based on the “Common Calculator Errors” section of the Demana and Waits Pre-Calculus Book (Section 4.2).
Free Download of Trigonometry Calculator Skills Pop Quiz and Notes
Trig Pop Quiz – Calculator Skills (PDF) (526 downloads)
Trig Pop Quiz – Calculator Skills (WORD) (338 downloads)
Notes to Accompany Trig Pop Quiz (WORD) (368 downloads)
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