Saturday, January 26, 2008

Speed Teaching

Right after the winter break, I finally sat down to see where I was with BC Calculus. I know I was behind from last year for a variety of reasons (new block schedule, new book, starting 2 weeks later), and I finally needed to see how far. Yeesh. I listed all the topics left, found how much time left, "did the math", and realized that if we get on the speed train of math, we can just about fit everything in with a week or 2 to review in April/May..... if I forego test days, review days, practice days, state testing days, kids-out-for-anything days. Very unrealistic. And most likely if I forego giving-them-time-to-absorb days.

I'm consoling myself with the "fact" that a lot of it is cumulative, so they'll see skills again even if we don't formally talk about it. I'm also helping the speed by every class making "skeleton" notes where students fill in blanks as I talk and the pictures or graphs are already drawn to save time, and the practice problems are already listed to save time, etc.

So far in 5 (6?) block classes we've covered antiderivatives, Riemann Sums, area, definite and indefinite integrals, FTC, u-substitution, ln(x) derivatives and related integrals. I'm also spiraling homework, and their optimization "test" is a problem that they have to keep attempting for homework until it's perfect. Maybe I'll do a few of those.

I'd better assess in some informal ways to make sure things are sticking, otherwise what's the point of cramming the stuff if they don't learn it.


  1. Anonymous7:43 PM

    I have the opposite problem--kinda. I'm teaching AB for the first time and I went pretty light speed. I really only have 2 major units left. (But I guess more review time can't hurt anyone....) Next year MUCH more built in practice. I figure by year 5 I might actually have it down. (Until we switch over to block schedule or something!) What does your review period before the test usually look like?

  2. Anonymous10:06 PM

    This is only my 3rd year teaching calculus. That first year I built in 3-4 weeks of review, and I have to say, they/we were getting antsy after 2.5 weeks. It could also have been how we did it. I didn't have it too structured. They took old exams, and then during class time they were to work with each other to figure out what they did wrong.

    The second year, I made it more structured, and we did do old exams, but I also asked them what they wanted to review (passed out a paper and they made suggestions and tick marks on other suggestions). I would spend some days reteaching/reviewing old topics, and then there'd be practice.

    I like them to take old exams and then talk about it. I also want them to practice "hairy" algebra and calculator skills.

    Since you have so much time, I might suggest timed short quizzes at the beginning of each period. Say you tell them on Friday what the 10 questions will be (quick reviews of derivatives ln facts and trig), and then a timed quiz every period and drop lowest grade or something. I got feedback from the kids that this helped/forced them to remember their basic facts.

    Good Luck.

    Ms. Cookie