I try very hard to make my supply list clear, concise, and simple. But I still wind up with kids bringing in calculators and protractors and compasses. I don’t mind students using calculators on many classroom projects, but I do like to have a mini-lesson for appropriate calculator usage before I wind up with students trying to spell out BOOBS on their screens.

I usually answer questions about what the different buttons mean. This year I explained that calculators are often used for finances, so we don’t usually use the percentage key, the square root key, or any of the memory keys. I also clarified that fractions are expressed as decimals on most four-function and scientific calculators.

This year, I had my students jot their learning on a post-it note before we left for lunch. Here are some of their insights, annotated with my responses.

Probably the biggest surprise for me was how many kids had their minds blown by the fact that calculators don’t represent fractions the way we’re used to seeing them in class.

Some students realized the limitations of calculators.

I’m pretty good at deciphering what students are trying to communicate, but if I really can’t understand, I let them know.

Some students focused on the practical expectations we discussed, such as appropriate calculator usage.

And then there were the notes that alerted me that I’d need to follow up with a few students.

The following two students are in their second year with me, so I felt comfortable pushing their thinking further, as well as admitting a lack of mathematical clarity of my use of the word “random.”

I originally taped the post-its to notebook paper so I wouldn’t have random sticky notes floating around my tote bag, but then I took the opportunity to give my kids feedback. What forms do you find useful for exit slips and reflections?