Wednesday, April 23, 2014

AP Calc Review (part 1)

Previous set up:  I had the tech support staff load MathType on the lab computers so students would be able to use it.  I made a list of all the sections we covered in AP Calc this year and created slips with a different section number on them.  In addition, I typed a master student list so they would be able to write down their assigned section and I could keep track of each students assignment.  I wrote the directions for the assignment so students would have a hard copy (I would be happy to send them to you).

The requirements: were that they had to post 3 problems for their topic/section.  One question had to be posted to the "Easy" page, one to the "Medium" page and one to the "Challenge" page.  One of their 3 questions had to be multiple choice with good distractors.  In addition, they were turning in solutions to their 3 problems on paper and solutions for their distractors being appropriate (so 3 ways to get the wrong answers provided and 1 way to get the correct answer).

Days 1 and 2:  I took the students to the computer lab.  The first day, I had to teach them how to create a formula using MathType inside a Word document and then how to snip it and save it so they could retrieve it.  We practiced this together.  Then I showed them how to access Padlet (I had created links on the school web page for my class, so they only had to open the link).  Padlet is so incredibly easy to use!  It did not take much explanation after that.  The beauty of this was both their notes and homework pages are online for them to access, so they had the ability to check what their topic was while on the computer and then start forming their questions.  The few questions that I had to answer were how to use MathType to get particular functions (exponents, infinity symbol, etc.).  I didn't expect they would finish the first day, thus the reason for the second.  Although unintended, there was a week between computer lab days (this had been planned to be consecutive days), but when they went back the 2nd day, they had definitely had enough time to construct the rest of their problems and multiple choices. Almost everyone finished (the couple that didn't came in before or after school or at lunch to do so).

All I had to do was check to see that every student had posted their 3 questions (one multiple choice) and arrange the topics in order by section number (for ease of student use).  The second day in the lab, I simply monitored completion and started arranging the questions in order.  Students got right to work. Often if they got stuck, they would ask each other for help/ideas.

Days 3 and 4:  At the conclusion of Day 2, students were assigned the Easy page for homework. They had to work out everyone's question.  Since they were posted by section number, it made it easy for students to go back and review that section if they got stuck/forgot how to do the problem.  The next day we went over them in class (one problem at a time).  I put them up on the board (using the LCD) and asked each "expert" for the correct answer to their problem.  Sometimes the class was in complete agreement and we moved on, sometimes they needed to know how to arrive at that solution.  At this point, I took the "expert's" work and put it under the document camera to display.  The expert was then able to explain their solution.  We found a few cases of the expert making their own mistake, but we didn't dwell on that, and I pointed out that I NEVER get 100's on the tests that I make and always make sure I check 5 smart students papers before I grade the entire set.  This reminds the students that its okay to make mistakes (we all do).

Here's what I learned (and why I will use it again):  The student's were driven to make good questions.  They enjoyed being the expert and EVERY student got to be an expert on each of the Padlet pages, so each student "got a turn".  They enjoyed working each other's questions.  I heard students say "this was actually fun".  It made it a great way to review every section by using the power of collaboration effectively.  Best part: I believe that this really enlightened the students about "distractors" and how to look for them as they seek the correct answer in the multiple choice questions.  They were able to spot some of the distractors right away and tell me what was wrong with that choice.  I couldn't have planned that part any better!!  Since they all had to create one multiple choice and their own distractors, they all experienced this.

Next up:  the Challenge questions!  I have a different plan for these.  Can't wait to see how they impact the students thinking.

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