There is value in learning to draw graphs by hand and we did that, first; we were often required to hand-draw graphs on tests. It is a skill that can serve you well as a math tutor, teacher or if you simply want to take more math classes down the line.
The TI-82 graphing calculator could slice and dice; it could help us find the intercepts of a graph that we had plotted. It could perform analyses, like fitting a regression line to a series of points that we had entered in the calculator and plotted.
As a tutor, now, I would probably use the graphing calculator more than drawing graphs, again for the efficiency factor – students want information so quickly, now. I might even bust out the SpaceTime app on my iPod.
My TI-89 graphing calculator and I were attached at the hip up through my graduation from college in 2003. The major improvements in that calculator for me were that it was able to graph in three dimensions and it had a much sleeker look than it’s predecessors. It also had a more intuitive input-output system.
These calculators reinforced for me the value of technology in education. They were and still are one of the most simple ways to integrate technology into a math classroom – they can be used with or without a computer. They can have flash cards installed on them, now. Heck, they can even be used in physics and general science classes to plot movement and properties of objects.