Introduction: The Graphing Calculator Survival Guide

If you're anything like me, you know how boring many classes at school can get. And then you know how that boredom keeps you from paying attention sometimes... Well now there's a solution. No, not actually paying attention (duh), but using your graphing calculator a little bit differently.

I know that when I first got my graphing calculator, things were confusing. So for people who are still in that stage, I tried to make this guide as basic as possible. If I didn't clarify something well enough, leave a comment about it please.

Also, this was written specifically for the TI-89 Titanium calculator. Some things might be slightly different on other calculators and you might have to figure a few things out yourself.

Step 1: Screens/Menus

I'm going to first clarify the names of a few important things you'll need here... Check the pictures.

Step 2: Notes

The easiest way to get notes on your calculator is to simply open up notepad on your computer, and type up the notes.
Then open up TI Connect (It should come on a cd with your calculator) and open up all of the files on your calculator using the 'Device Explorer' function on Ti connect.
Then simply drag your notes into the folder you want them in on your calculator. It will take a second or two for it to transfer depending on the size, and then they should be on your calculator.

To access your notes on your calculator, go the the 'Apps' menu, find notefolio, and there should be a menu. Click 'Open', then find your document.

In class, you can also open up Notefolio and manually type out a few notes (rather slowly with the keys on a calculator though). To do this, open up Notefolio from the 'Apps' menu, and start a new document, and start typing.

Step 3: Post-it Note Notes

There's a place on your graphing calculator that is very handy for hiding little slips of paper in... It's in the cover, under the ridges that hold it to your calculator...

Pretty self-explanatory what to do now...

But try to write your notes at the bottom of the post-it notes so you can slide the calculator up to look at the notes without it being obvious.

Step 4: Freeze Protection

Even though graphing calculator's are pretty amazing, they do sometimes freeze up at the most inconvenient times. To fix a freeze up on a graphing calculator, you have to remove the back up battery and the regular batteries to 'reboot' everything. Unfortunately, if you don't have a screwdriver handy at the time of the freeze, you can't do this, because there's a plastic cover screwed down over the batteries. This could really screw you up if your calculator freezes during school.

So you don't have to carry a screwdriver with you everywhere, simply remove the cover with a screwdriver at home, put the screw in the little hole above the batteries (see the picture) and put the plastic slip back on, and close it all up. Simple.

Also, when a calculator freezes, documents can be lost. In order to prevent this, you will need to archive the documents you want to keep. First, go to the Command screen. Then press the '2nd' key, then the '-' key to open up all of your files. From there, the pictures should tell the rest of the story.

Step 5: And Most Importantly... Games

So your brain doesn't shut down from the boredom of some classes, you'll need something to occupy yourself with...

Easiest way to do this is download a few games and put them on your calculator.

There are many sites dedicated to graphing calculator games right now. I find that for my Ti-89 Titanium, this site works well, although if you have a different calculator you'll need a different site of course. Google away.

Once you find a game you want to try out, download it, and find a file that looks like the ones I tagged in the picture. Usually it's right there when you open up the file. Open up Ti Connect, go to your calculator's files, and just drag the file you found over to the folder you want it in on your calculator.

To play your game/s, first go to your command screen. To do this, press the Home key. Then press the 2nd key, then the '-' key. This takes you to all of the files on your calculator. Then, locate the folder in which you put your game, then click on the game once you find it. It should now take you back to the command screen. Press enter, and the game should start up.
Have fun

A word of warning when trying out games though... Some games aren't designed very well, and they can crash your calculator easily. Also, if you (like me) have the Titanium, some regular ti-89 games will work, but others won't, and can cause your calculator to crash too. So be careful, and remember to archive what you need on your calculator when trying out games. You can also back up your games on your computer using TI Connect.

Step 6: Fin

And there you go. The ultimate note-taking and time wasting device you are allowed to use in school (most of the time at least).

Warning: Playing games on a calculator in classes besides a math class can sometimes get you labeled as a nerd/geek/loser, depending on your class mates.
But who cares? They're the ones who will get bored first since they have something against graphing calculator games.