Compass Learning Technologies
ABN: 57 953 712 517

HomeTI-Nspire Authoring Support


TI-Nspire Authoring Support

Stephen Arnold


Some Golden Rules for Creating Documents that Work with TI-Nspire

Top of Page

TI-Nspire offers some great tools for creating well-presented interactive documents for classroom use, for presentation and for publication. There are, however, some useful things to remember when developing documents on this platform. It is assumed here that the end medium of just about every document you develop will be a handheld screen: while it is nice to take advantage of all that lovely screen real-estate available when using the software, documents developed without regard for how they will transfer to student screens are likely to be frustrating at best, and useless at worst. Where possible, documents should read equally well in both views and be created to do so; where this is not possible, then preference should generally be given to the handheld view. Fortunately, the Teacher Editions now available make it possible to check this very accurately from the software.

There is one central Golden Rule for creating effective TI-Nspire documents: minimize screen clutter. The handheld screen is not a big place and very quickly becomes confused and unusable, so whatever else you do, keep this one in mind. Can you see what I mean in the image shown? When in a geometry or even a graphing context do we need more than 1 or 2 decimal places? Is the scale (top right corner) relevant here? Then why is it shown? How much screen information is enough, and how much is too much?

In general, as with any good design, just because you can does not mean that you should!

What's wrong with this picture?

Top of Page

With this in mind, a few more detailed Golden Rules of TI-Nspire authoring are summarized below, and then most are demonstrated using a QuickTime movie (click on the image to play). They should be read with the proviso "wherever possible" attached: like all good rules, they do not apply to every possible situation, but should be applied in general unless there is a strong reason to do otherwise.

Top of Page
  • Construct, Don't Draw. While it is tempting to use the available tools (such as segment, vector, etc) as you would in a drawing package and simply place them where they look right, this does not allow your figures to be used interactively and they become no better than textbook graphics. TI-Nspire is an interactive tool, and students should be able to grab, move and explore using what you give to them. It is always better to create figures that work, rather than drawings that fall apart as soon as something is shifted - or even when you simply change views. Some simple and useful constructions:

    1. Pointer Arrows: If you are using text, at some stage you will probably want to link your text to an object using an arrow: suppose we wish to point to a given coordinate point (it might be a vertex of a triangle, for example). You should have the point that is the object of interest, and a point attached to the text label. Use the Segment Tool to connect these two points. Now choose the Vector Tool (also in Points and Lines Menu) and click first on your label point to start your arrow, and then click somewhere along the segment (NOT at the very end). Now hide the end point of the vector and the segment underneath. It is much better for your arrow NOT to go all the way to the object in question since it can obscure that object. Finally, use Attributes of the vector to make it dotted or dashed.

    2. To Reflect or Flip a point or object, choose Reflection from the Transformations menu, then click on the line of reflection (axis of symmetry) and then on the object to be reflected.

    3. To Translate or Slide a point or object, you need a vector which gives the direction and size of the translation: create your vector, then choose Translation from the Transformations menu, click on the object to be moved, then on the vector and you will get your image. If you place the vector on a segment (as described above) then grabbing the endpoint of the vector will allow the image to be slide along the segment (which should be hidden or dotted).

    4. To Rotate or Turn an object, use the text tool to drop a number somewhere on the screen (You should set the Document Settings so that angles are in degrees for this!) Now you need an object to be turned, a point to turn it around (which may be on the object or somewhere else) and the text number gives your angle of rotation. Choose Rotation from the Transformations menu, click on the object to be turned, then on the center of rotation, and finally on the text number. By double clicking and changing that number, you can easily change the angle of rotation as required.

    5. Symmetry can be a very useful tool, especially for making sure that things are evenly spaced. Suppose you have several lines of text which you want to be spaced evenly down a page, aligned to the left. Use the technique outlined above to place a point labelled with your first line of text. Now construct a line passing through that point, parallel to the y-axis. Now choose Point On and place a point on the parallel line where you want your next line of text to begin (and immediately type in your text). Choose Symmetry from the Transformations menu, click on the new point you just created and then click on the point above it. Another point will appear on the line below, equally spaced. Again enter the text for that point. Use Symmetry again to get the next point, as required. The neat thing now is that, by dragging the point second from the top (not the first line of text but the point associated with the second line) you can automatically adjust the spacing between all your lines - useful when you switch between computer and handheld view!


    Now see these principles demonstrated (if you have an active Internet connection and QuickTime!) [Note that in the example shown, the screen layout is still more cluttered than I would like, but this was the information required to be shown, so every attempt was made to balance the layout spread.]

    Top of Page

    And a few hints for using NOTES well...

    Top of Page


    ©2012 Compass Learning TechnologiesHome ← TI-Nspire Authoring Support