15-16 Recap: AP Calculus

As promised, this is post #2 today to make up for missing yesterday. This one will actually be about teaching, but since I apparently can’t do anything the easy way, I’ll be doing a series of 3 posts about what went well and what could be improved upon in AP Calculus (both AB  and BC flavors), General Physics, and AP Physics. So today, let’s start with AP Calculus. Lot’s of stuff to ponder, as I write this, I’m seeing that a few of these need some more unpacking, thankfully it’s #MTBoSBlaugust!

What Went Well

  • I lagged homework in AB (one of the few things I’ve written about in the past and something I need to write about more in the upcoming few days).
  • I posted full solutions to homework assignments in AB the night before the assignment was due and most of my students turned in fully corrected and annotated assignments on time.
  • I had students do 3 full 6 question FRQ exams and a full 45 question multiple choice exam prior to the actual AP exam in May. Gave them a lot of exposure to the type of problems they were going to see on the real exam and what they needed to spend the weeks prior to the exam focusing on.
  • I improved my pass rate.
  • Students did a lot of really good group work on VNPS.
  • I wrote a lot of good problems throughout the year to dig into student’s conceptual understanding.
  • I wrote some good notes and activity structures throughout the year.

What Can Improve

  • Students had difficulty transferring what they learned from lessons and the more skill based, formulaic problems they saw in their homework to the conceptually deeper AP style problems I gave them on assessments, midterms, and finals.
  • I’m not totally happy with the sequence of topics right now (might need to pick Jonathan’s brain more about the reasoning behind his sequencing).
  • By the time the third FRQ rolled around, a few of my students thought it would be useful to just memorize a bunch of FRQ solutions available on the internet (their ability to do stuff like this but not complete a simple homework assignment on time is staggering) and hope that they showed up. Luckily for them it did. Unluckily for them, those same problems weren’t on the AP exam (shocker!) and they got a 1 since they didn’t really study and prep.
  • I had a 4 person BC class that I structured more as an independent study course than a normal course. They were pretty productive most of the year, but didn’t do as well on the AP exam as they could have if they pushed themselves more throughout the year.
  • I had some students walk into an assessment (I use SBG), put their name on their paper, turn it in, and say they were going to reassess it next week. This is the first time this has happened in 4 years. Needless to say, it brought about a crisis of faith in the system and led to some long talks with these students about personal accountability in a high stakes class (due to the subject matter difficulty and exam at the end of the course) that sometimes feels like a low stakes class (due to reassessments).

 

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