There is nothing more essential in Algebra classes than the ability to solve a linear equation. Understanding the logic behind solving these equations is the base for everything from advanced Algebra to college level mathematics courses. In order to get a leg up on fellow classmates, it is important that students know of several ways to solve these equations. Most importantly, all students need to be able to solve these algebraic equations using just paper and pencil. Second most importantly, students need to be able to use technology to obtain these answers. Our society is putting more and more emphasis on technology in everyday life and it is important that our young people our keeping up with these demands.
It is vital that more and more students get their hands on either a TI-83 or TI-84 graphing calculator. These devices can do most of the work for the students if they know how to properly use them. Unless they have a specially downloaded program for their TI-84 plus (most of these programs are not legal on standardized tests), the calculator won’t just do all the work for them but it can make finding some solutions easier. Or, at the very least, it is a useful way to check their answer that they did the old-fashioned way.
First, students need to have enough algebraic skills to set the equation equal to either zero or the variable y (depends on the nature of the problem). Once this is done it can be input into the calculator (under the Y= key). The students need to enter the equation, followed by another equals sign and then concluded with a zero.
Finally, students need to take a look at the table of values that the calculator can come up with instantaneously after hitting the 2nd GRAPH keys. If you know anything about binary, then you know it is made up of a ton of 0’s and 1’s. If there is a 0 in the y column, then this means the corresponding x value is not a solution. If the linear equation has one solution, then there should one 1 in the y column somewhere. Whatever the corresponding x value is in this case is your solution. In most high school math problems there will only be one solution. However, in some rare cases, you could either have infinite or no solutions to your given linear equation.