Monthly Archives: July 2012

Reflecting on Day Two of #APSI #ASU

The big take away from this morning’s sessions was the concept of students keeping a math journal. It’s something I’ve been considering this summer already, but hearing about it from an experienced AP teacher just pushed me over the edge. The idea is that several times a grading period (at least that’s how my instructor implemented it) the students are assigned journal questions which are similar to free response AP exam questions. They are never cut-and-dry problems, usually incorporating the words ‘explain’ or ‘justify’ or another leads to get the students to think about the ‘why’ or ‘how’ of a concept.

I love the idea. I think it reaches pretty high on Bloom’s Taxonomy, which is always something I worry that I don’t stress enough. Personally, I think I’d use it more than my instructor does. I think almost all new concepts and lessons need debriefed. Many times homework and practice problems aren’t enough to really get the students thinking about what they’ve just learned. Better yet, this is a *perfect* way to incorporate Evernote. I can put a journal assignment in the main class folder, students can copy it to their personal folder (which is shared with me) and begin to work. No paper, no mess, and I can grade them anywhere. I also think this will give the kids the creativity to use pictures, videos, and other media that simply is impossible with pencil and paper. I can see journal assignments replacing homework on many occasions.

In the afternoon session, we spent the majority of our time exploring and working through our instructor’s own class materials. This was helpful at points, but became a bit of a drag after the second hour… I’ll admit that it was a nice feeling working his examples problems well before some of the other teachers sitting nearby and seeing one or two of them peek over at my paper to check my answer. ­čśë

I’m excited about tomorrow. A Pearson rep is supposed to be on campus, and I hear free textbooks are in store.


Reflecting on Day One of #APSI #ASU

As I mention in the previous post, I’m spending most of my week in Jonesboro, Arkansas at the Advanced Placement Summer Institute run by The College Board. The purpose of the summer session is to better prepare me to be a teacher of Calculus, which in turn, will better prepare my students to be takers of the AP Calculus Exam.

I’m not ashamed to say that I was a bit nervous heading into the week, this stemming from a few different reasons.

First, geography. I *knew* I would be the only participant in my designated room (teachers of AP Calculus AB) who was not from the state of Arkansas. Awkward. Was I right? Actually, yes, I was. But this really didn’t turn out to be such a bad thing at all. Even though I was singled out as being from Illinois at the beginning of my morning session, my foreign-ness was never again addressed. Yes, many other teacher knew each other, or at the least, knew the district where the other taught, but I’m not really one for meet-and-greets, anyway. I was just fine to quietly converse with gentleman to my left when I knew the answer to a question, but I felt too self-conscious to raise my hand.

Second, experience. I’ve only taught Calculus AB for 2 years, but never have I taught it fully to the AP Syllabus. Yikes. Surely, I thought, I would be one of the least, if not *the* least experience teacher in the room. What I right? Haha! Not even close! There were teachers in the room who had never taught Calculus and wouldn’t for another year or two. I could almost immediately tell that I wasn’t going to be lacking the knowledge department. This went a very long way to ease my nerves.

Third, experience again, but different. I was scared that I’d meet many other teachers who were familiar with Calculus BC, and the instructor would be working examples and teaching concepts from BC that I seriously haven’t seen since sometime in 2007 or 2008. That would be scary. Was I right? Not so far. Like I said, a large portion of the teachers in my room are inexperienced AP Calc teachers, and it seems like here in Arkansas, AP Calculus AB tends to be a Senior level course — leaving no room in high school for BC. Good deal.

I’m really looking forward to day 2. In day 2, I learned a lot about pacing. I know some rough approximations of dates and concepts and how they should align. I know a lot more about what is contained on the test and how it is graded. I even found out that I’ve been teaching a few things very in depth, that I can just gloss over or forgo altogether because they aren’t a part of the tested knowledge on the exam.

Lastly, I miss my wife. As much as I expect to enjoy the next few days, I’ll be wishing I was back at home even more.


How am I using Evernote on this professional development trip? ┬áI’m taking pictures of my meal receipts to turn in to my district for reimbursement. ┬áI have a tendency to lose things. ┬áRuns in the family. ┬áEvernote is helping me get paid, if that happens again.

APSI Arkansas State University

I suppose I should share where I am tonight. ┬áI’m on campus at Arkansas State University in Jonesboro where I will be participating in an Advanced Placement Summer Institute which begins tomorrow and goes through Thursday. ┬áI’ll be joined by many other high school teachers who teach AP classes, but during the day, I’ll be with only Calculus teachers.

Because this will be my first year trying to teach in line with the AP syllabus, and because it will also be my first year with a second-year Calculus course, I’m ready to soak up knowledge like a sponge. ┬áI’m a little worried about being the newbie in the room, but maybe no one will notice.

This blog is supposed to be about the joining of both Evernote and Calculus, so I’m thinking it’s appropriate to share my experiences over the next several days, even though they will be very Calculus specific and barely related to EN, at all.

Updates to come.