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misc topics  ap calc
Posted:
May 9, 1997 1:42 AM


Hi all,
Just a brief introduction and some topics to hopefully increase the traffic on this list
ME: I am an AP Calculus teacher at Pinewood High School is Los Altos Hills, California. I have been a tutor for AP students for the last 8 years and a teacher of AB for 2 years. Next year, I will be teaching 2 sections of AB and 1 section of BC. We also have nonAP Calculus, but I won't be teaching it in the fall.
AP STATS: I have been lurking on the AP Statistics list for the last year, eagerly awaiting an AP Calculus list. All that lurking made me want to add AP Stats as a class for post AP calc students who have "run out" of math courses. I would like to know what some of your schools do with juniors or sophomores that take BC.
NEW TEST: I am quite concerned about next year's test, particularly what kind of practice ap questions will be available. I have had success in the past with the books by the grey and light blue books by liederman (I think that is the name  I don't have a book handy.) I am frightened by the realization that I won't be able to tell my students with certainty that they have the knowledge and the skills to pass the test. Do any of you have these same concerns?
BOOKS: I am thinking about changing books from Larson to Foerster for just the first year because I think that Foerster knows more about the calculus reform than I do. I can supplement important calculus concepts that aren't in the ap curriculum because I know they are. I don't know if it will be as easy to supplement my existing book with material that I am not familiar with. I would love to read about any of your opinions about the foerster book or any other new for the new ap books. I will be ordering new books within the next month.
1996/1997 free response: From a lover of math perspective, I have really liked the questions on the past two ap tests. I enjoy taking my own calculus skills and applying them creatively to interesting problems. From the perspective of a calculus teacher, the questions slightly concern me, because I have trouble teaching someone to be mathematically creative. I welcome the new challenge. Am I right to think that the new test will have more problems requiring creativity as well as basic calculus skills?
LAST MINUTE CHANGES: Was I the only one that received the new instructions 2 school days before the AP? I was lucky in that I saw my students on Friday, so I could have them understand the new instructions. Since the Literature AP was monday morning, receiving that letter one day later would have been a serious problem. As it was, I consider myself fortunate that I didn't let my students use their calculators for tests until the beginning of March, so they could do everything by hand. I wish I had received that letter a month earlier, so I could have clearly shown my students how to properly write a free response answer. Will the new test have those same instructions?
CALCULATORS: The graphing calculator is really an amazing tool. It demonstrates linearity, Taylor Polynomials, and the squeeze theorem in a way that I could not before. On the new test, will the students need a calculator more on the free response. I think that I could have done all the 1997 FR without a calculator if I left an arcsin in one of the answers. I found that odd. Which calculators are the favorites among the people on this list? We recommend TI82's because they are more intuitive than the HP's. My personal preference is the TI82 over the TI85 just because of the table feature and the y1(3) evaluation ease. I sure like the other features on the 85's, but I have had a couple 85s give me wrong answers for maxima and minima with parabolas. How does the TI83 compare to the other TI's? Is anyone convinced that another brand of calculators is better for ap calc students?
I hope that this was enough to get things going. I crave the opinion of other experienced AP teachers. :)
Jennifer Nicholls CoDept Head Pinewood School nicholls@monitor.pinewood.edu



