Monday, March 28, 2016

It's That Time Again - Plan for Fun AP Calculus Review

It's time again to start reviewing for the AP Calculus Exam.

I don't know about you, but you can never have too much review material.  What topics do students feel they need the most help with?  How can I best use the time we have to maximize their scores?  In addition I am fighting major senioritis and it seems like they are getting called out of class for this that and the other thing every other day!  I have made a plan for my AP Calculus Review - I am noting it here so I can stick to it hopefully!

1) I am going to start with a quick survey - I am going to list 10 topics and ask students to choose the 4 they feel that they need the most help with and then I will pay special attention to those topics.  Here is a link to my survey in google forms - you can feel free to use it with your students if you like.  If you don't want to use it in google forms, just print out a copy.  Google Forms Survey

2) I have an outline that I use to begin our in class review.  The course is outlined and there are problems to match each section.  We do this in class together so I can remind them about lots of different things.  Here is a link to my outline:  Study Guide and Outline

3) As we progress through this outline, I assign multiple choice questions each day that go along with the outline topics we did in class that day.  I found a pdf copy of a book online that organizes past AP Multiple choice questions by topic.  I didn't make this, but I have found it to be an invaluable resource.  Here is the link:  Previous Multiple Choice Questions by Topic

4) I need to make this fun somehow, so I think I will use my Calculus Super Secret Number Puzzles - I didn't use them this year during the year...time just got away from me.  So I will use it as part of our review.  In these puzzles, students work a total of approximately 10 questions on a given topic.  After they are finished, they add up their answers.  This is their Super Secret Number.  If their Super Secret Number matches my Super Secret Number, they probably did the problems correctly.  To add to the fun, some of the puzzles have a QR Code the students can scan to check the Super Secret Number :)

5) Students need a lot of practice with Free Response Questions.  So, I assign groups and ask students to present their preview free response question to the class.  I will do this as soon as we get back from spring break.  I don't mind if they look up the answers online - in fact I encourage them to do so.  I want them to present the problem correctly and see how the rubric scores the question.

6) The Night Before the Test...It's an Emergency...what else can they do???  Try my Emergency Last Minute Night Before the Test Study Guide.  In this guide, students practice 20 questions on various topics we have studied this year.  There are two versions of this guide included in this packet, but the one I intend to use has QR Codes included.  Students can scan the code with their phone to see if they got the correct answer.  Fun :)

Good luck to you and your students!

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Book Study: The Ten Minute Inservice - Part IV - Learning from Others

Welcome to part 4 of the book study about the book The Ten Minute In-Service by Todd Whitaker.

First, let me introduce myself for those that don't regularly read my blog.  I teach high school math at a Catholic High School south of Chicago.  I am also certified to teach Chemistry and Physics and I have my administrator's certificate, although I have yet to venture to the administrative side :)   I have enjoyed reading Todd Whitaker's other books such as What Great Teachers Do Differently and What Great Principals Do Differently, so I was excited to participate in this book study.

Part 4 of this book is entitled Learning from Others.  Good teachers learn from others teachers, from their students, and let's face it even from Pinterest :)

The first three in-services in this section deal with Teacher and Administrator Report Cards.  This part resonates with me because we have been toying with this idea in the school where I teach.  In this section, Whitaker suggests that students be allowed to give their teachers a report card and then the teachers are allowed to give their administrator a report card.  Allowing the students to give their input makes it seem as if their opinion matters.  I am a little hesitant about this idea as I'm sure some of you will be...I don't need a teenager criticizing me!!!  But, I think the key here is the types of questions you ask - you wouldn't want to ask the question Do you like your teacher?  But you could ask questions such as What do you think would help you learn better or What is your favorite part of this class?  As Whitaker points out, you should definitely involve teachers in making the questions that will be on the survey.  Teachers need to own the project in order for it to be successful.

The next in-service is What's Working for Others - I love this idea!  A chance to talk with my colleagues at a faculty inservice : )  I also loved that he made the rule that no one can GRIPE at this session.  A specific topic was chosen and then each teacher brings a strategy that is working for them in the classroom.  Everyone gets a chance to present and you get new ideas.  A teacher interviewed in this chapter said this was her favorite in-service ever - Wow that is high praise because I think we've all sat in meetings that we felt were the WORST in-sevice ever!

Finally, the last in-service in this section is Teachers Observing Teachers.  The idea of this seems great, but WHO HAS TIME?  Whitaker interviewed an administrator in this section who has a good plan for setting up a schedule for teachers to observe each other during their planning period.  Teachers were obligated to do this once a month for at least 30 minutes.  Teachers signed up to observe a certain category, classroom management, cooperative grouping, technology, etc.  Teachers also signed up to be observed during certain days and times.  The plan sounded a little bit confusing, but I can see how a plan such as this would work after everyone got used to it.  One of the ingenious parts to this plan is that teachers are being observed by others - it encourages them to always to do their best!

I hope you enjoyed reading my synopsis of part 4 of this book.  If you have missed the other parts of this book study and would like to read them, see the list below:

Part 1A - Classroom Management 1A - Sarah Koves

Part 1B - Classroom Management 1B - Tried and True Teaching Tools

Part 2 - Teaching Practices - Mrs 3rd Grade

Part 3 - Improving School Climate   - Lessons with Coffee

Part 4 - Learning from Others - YOU ARE HERE :)

Part 5 - What Makes a Great Teacher - Angela Ackley

Saturday, March 5, 2016

Teaching Calculus Volumes by Rotation

I don't know about you, but teaching the calculus unit about rotating a space about an axis makes me want to tear my hair out!

I start out the unit every year thinking...this is going to be the year that I finally get through to them...they are going to GET IT this year.  Then...every year is the same...they just don't get it, no matter how many times I explain, show pictures, make diagrams, have students that do get it explain...ugh, nothing seems to work.

So, one of my efforts this year involved making a graphic organizer.

I am open to your suggestions about this graphic organizer.  What should I add to it...what doesn't make sense?

In the meantime, here are some other items that can be used to teach volumes by rotation: