Sunday, April 29, 2018

AP Calculus Review - Engaging Ways for Students to Practice

It's that time of year again...Calculus Review!

This year, we are fortunate that the AP Calculus test is later in May - May 15 to be exact.  I finished the material about 2 weeks ago, so I have been working with plenty of review time.

But, with lots of review time, it becomes a challenge to keep students engaged.  I know that we have to keep practicing multiple choice questions and free response questions, but we need different methods to do it.  The students get tired of hearing me talk :)

So, here are a few ways to keep students engaged in practicing:

1) Speed Dating - I wrote about Speed Dating in Calculus several years ago when I made each student a question EXPERT and had that student explain their question to every other student who sat in front of them.  (You can read that post here.)

Another way to try speed dating is to start the students in groups of two.  Make as many questions as you will have groups.  Set a timer for 2 minutes.  When the time starts, students can only speak to the student they are partnered with.  They work on one of the questions.  When the timer goes off, one student moves around the circle one way, and the other students moves around the circle the other way.  Students work with many other partners, and with only 2 minutes to work there is no time for goofing off!

2) Try Puzzles - My favorite type of puzzle to give my calculus class is the Super Secret Number puzzle.  In this puzzle, students are given approximately 10 questions of the same type.  Students work the questions and then add up their answers.  This is the Super Secret Number.  When students think they have the Super Secret Number, they go up to the board and scan a QR Code with the Super Secret Number embedded in it.  If their super secret number matches my Super Secret Number, they are probably correct.  Exciting!

I have Super Secret Number Puzzles in my store for many different calculus topics.

1) Chain Rule

2) Equation of Tangent Line

3) Implicit Differentiation

4) Position, Velocity and Acceleration

5) Curve Sketching

6) Natural Logs and Exponential Function Derivatives

7) Riemann Sums and Trapezoidal Rule

You can try one for FREE here:  Super Secret Number Puzzle - Derivative at a Point

3) Make Students Responsible for Explanations - One of the biggest things I struggle with is that not all of the students need me to review and explain the same things with them.  Some need help with u-substitution, some need help with the chain rule, some need their algebra understand.  So, sometimes I feel that going over multiple choice problems in class as a whole group is a waste of time.

So this year I am trying a new way of going over a practice test we did.  (From Barron's, not from a secure test :)  The students took the entire test over two class days.  They entered their answers into a google form so I could analyze which questions were the most often missed.

Starting tomorrow, students will be assigned a slide in Google Slides.  They have a specific question they must explain in Google Slides.  They can insert text boxes, a picture of their work, a link to a video they might find helpful, a graph, etc.

Then other students can look up any problems they need help with.


4) Be Sure They have the Basics - There are some questions on the AP test that are downright difficult, but there are some that are basic questions that students need to be able to answer easily.  So, I have a mastery test on Derivatives and Integrals that I give my students.  This Mastery test tests to see if students can use the product rule, quotient rule, chain rule, u-substitution, etc correctly.  I have 4 different forms of it.

You can see it here: Mastery Test Derivatives and Integrals

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