
Timetabling of AP Calculus
Posted:
Jan 9, 1998 9:20 PM


I have been following with interest the discussion on block scheduling. "Block scheduling" seems to mean different things in different school districts of the country. My school is on a semester system. This means that students take half their course load (= 4 courses) for five months, and then another 4 courses for the next five months. We see the students every day, for a class period that averages 80 minutes. It was my job to introduce AP Calc into the school, and we are now in our second year of the AB program. Here is how we have organized our system, in order to have the students ready for the May exam, which comes almost 8 weeks before the end of our school year. We have one AP class of 2530 students. We have an accelerated math class that starts right from Grade 8, and this accelerated class continues all the way through to Grade 12. In Grade 12, our goal is to finish the Grade 12 course by the midpoint of the first semester, which we can do, since we have already started the Grade 12 course in the Grade 11 accelerated class. We then start AP Calc midway through Semester I, and finish it midway through Semester II, just in time for the exam. The students in the accelerated math classes are the brightest math students in the school (obviously), and we are able to do a lot of enrichment activities in all grades, in addition to accelerating the rate at which we cover the prescribed course material. The down side to this system is that students must have committed to the AP course by the start of their Grade 11 year, since there is too much for them to catch up if they try to start the accelerated stream in Math 12, or even worse, in AP Math 12. We do, however, offer a calculus course in Semester II, for students who have completed Math 12 in Semester I, but which does not lead to the AP exam. The calculus course prepares students to write firstyear challenge exams offered by our local universities, or simply allows them to be better prepared for first year university math. (P.S. There is one thing that I have not been able to understand in the discussion of "block scheduling". Schools in our area have almost all moved away from a traditional 5x8 system, choosing either the semester system described above, or a fullyear timetable with 2 alternating days, with 4 x 80 minute classes per day. Both of these systems seem similar to "block scheduling", yet with this change, we did not lose any course time: it was just redistributed. Why has block scheduling resulted in a 20% loss of class time, or does this refer to the fact that the AP exams occur 20% before the end of the school year? But then, isn't the scheduling of the AP exams in May a problem for any sytem?) I hope that the above has been interesting / useful. Looking forward to hearing of other solutions.
Angela Collins Burnett Secondary Richmond, B.C. Canada

