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Topic: Foerster book
Replies: 12   Last Post: Oct 20, 1997 9:19 PM

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Wayne Murrah

Posts: 31
Registered: 12/3/04
Re: Foerster book
Posted: Oct 8, 1997 11:05 PM
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I are using the new Foerster book for the first time this year in BC
Calculus after having used the various Thomas / Finney / Demanna / Waits
sequence of editions for 25 years. Since I am just 7 weeks into the
course, I certainly do not claim to be an expert, but I can at least offer
some initial reactions. As with any new text -- especially this one with
its format being so different from what I have been accustomed to -- it
requires a significant amount of time and energy on my part on a daily
basis. The text concentrates on conceptual understanding, yet so far seems
to offer plenty of practice where analytical skills need reinforcement.
The book is easily legible and understandable by the typical AP student --
to the point that for the first time in my career I feel that the class
could carry on successfully in my absence for a time.

Each unit of the book is presented in a "bite-size" chunk with a couple of
pages of explanation or exploration and a problem set that typically can be
managed in one day, two at the most. In contrast, in my several years of
using the newest T/F/D/W text, it seemed that it was difficult for the
student to gleen the critical concepts of most units without an abundance
of explanation by the teacher, and many of the problem sets seemed almost
overwhelming in content, often combining several major topics and concepts
that could stretch a unit into days of work. In fact, some of the units
were so extensive that I often was concerned that I would accidentally
overlook some critical topic myself. The Foerster text so far has flowed
smoothly from topic to topic, and it seems that chapter breaks are
virtually unnecessary except to create a reasonable unit for testing
purposes. As with every course I teach, I make it a point never to solve
homework problems myself in advance of the next day's class, so that
whenever students question a problem, they can watch and hear and
participate in my first-time analysis and solution. Although the new text
has some excellent, challenging problems, I have found that there seem to
be few "traps" for the teacher within the problem sets.

I especially have welcomed the fact that with the Foerster text the
four-faceted approach of numerical, analytical, graphical, and verbal
techniques seems to flow smoothly and to be integrated naturally, and the
sequence and nature of topics lends itself readily to either lecture or
individual exploration or group activities, making it especially easy to
vary the daily routine in the class, even for a rather traditional teacher.
It is obvious that the author is a classroom AP teacher who has put much
thought into the organization and flow not only of the text itself, but
also of the supplementary materials -- namely the solution manual,
teacher's guide, and teacher's resource manual. These materials include
critical pacing information, specific suggestions for daily assignments,
sample tests on units and on chapters, exploratory handouts, and such. I
have found these resources to be invaluable.

What about the negatives: I have found that some of my students have had a
little trouble adapting to the conceptual nature of the text, having had
Pre-Cal in a much more traditional format. Suddenly they have found
themselves having to think and ponder far more on assignments and during
tests, rather than largely racing through routine, analytical techniques.
They are realizing that they MUST understand in order to be successful. As
a result we are going to have to search for a more compatible text for the
course preceeding this one.

I have found some of the questions in the problem sets and on the sample
tests that require verbal responses to be somewhat awkward, especially at
first -- regular questioning of "what have you just learned from this
assignment or test that you didn't already know" seems to be a bit
overdone, and questions designed to be answered into a student journal seem
to need improvement.

After having spent months last year searching for a textbook with a
colleague who also has taught AP for years, and finally deciding on the
Foerster book, so far we both overall are very satisfied -- dare I say
relieved? -- yet I am a little concerned about a couple of comments that I
have seen from teachers who used Foerster last year without as good results
as usual on the AP exam, but from what I see of the course so far, I am
optimistic. One of our main motives for the change was to better match the
methods of questioning that are being included on the AP exam these days,
and this new text seems to fill those gaps that have given our students
some trouble on the test in recent years.

Realizing that the above comments are initial reactions resulting from
very limited exposure, I have probably said too much already, but as the
course proceeds I will be happy to respond to anyone who might want more
information or opinion.

I too am looking at the possibility of changing texts. Please post
>to the whole list as I think there may be many of us considering
>the Foerster book. I have a copy but would very much like to hear/read
>what others think about this book.
>Tricia Potts
>On Mon, 6 Oct 1997, David or Linda Hollar wrote:

>> Has anyone piloted the Foerster Calculus book? We adopt in 99, so I'm
>> beginning to look at the newest texts.
>> Linda Hollar
>> Watauga High School
>> Boone, NC 28607

Wayne Murrah
Porter-Gaud School
Charleston, SC


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