Room 608

AP Calculus BC

Welcome to AP Calculus BC. I'm excited to be with you as you explore the most exciting topic available at RMHS. The ideas and techniques which you will experience are the result of the combined creative effort of the best minds of the last 2,000 years. I believe for most of you this will be a math class unlike any other. You will work hard and think hard, all the while keeping an eye on the AP Calculus BC exam in May.

The syllabus for this class is available as a PDF.

Homework is assigned each night and is due the next school day. Please read this important advice about homework....

First of all, by now, you have been told by people who have given math a lot of thought, time, and effort that math is not a spectator sport. If you have been able to survive math up to now by paying attention during class and then showing up and doing pretty well on your big tests, you should not expect this technique to work in calculus. You should do all of the following:

  • Do every homework assignment completely. When you get stuck, get yourself un-stuck by consulting the book and other resources, by starting over, by asking for help from your classmates or your teacher or your tutor, and through the many other ways we will discuss in class.
  • Do every homework exercise completely to a level of mastery. You have not completed an exercise unless you have a reasonable belief that it is correct, so check all odd exercises in the back of the book, and check the even exercises with your classmates. When something is wrong, fix it. The best way to fix an exercise you've done wrong is to do it over.

NOTE: I am recommending an unusual approach to homework completion in this class this year. The highest priority: Have you mastered the important ideas in a given assignment, and then — very important — have you not frittered away additional time beyond what you need for mastery? This will be tricky, and I will cover it in class, but here is what I recommend for each night's assignment:

1. Read, understand, and set up each exercise in a given assignment. Do the algebra for the first few exercises, and then do not work further on any more exercises. Skip the algebra, as well as any simple calculus steps. You will save time this way.

2. Using the time you've saved, pick exercises from earlier in the chapter or even earlier in the year, and try those. Research shows that spaced repetition is powerful way to move ideas that you are learning into long-term storage.

  • Join a study group, and work together several days a week. You will learn more quickly and more deeply by asking for help the moment you need it and by helping others when they ask you for help. This is what serious students do. Ask your math and science teachers! They will happily name a class they took in college that they could not have survived without their study group.
  • Except for the most obvious exercises, do your work on scratch paper, and then copy it into your notebook. On many exercises in calculus, there are a lot of steps, and it's impossible to predict when you start out how many corrections you'll make and how much room you'll need. You're cheating yourself if you try to fit an exercise into a predicted space in your notebook.


Homework Assignments

The date you see is the date the homework was assigned. It is due the next school day. Most days, I have chosen the homework assignment as practice for the concepts and skills discussed in class. If you are working without distractions, a typical assignment will take you 30 minutes; however, most calculus students occasionally get stuck. When you get stuck, it will be in your best interest to work until you get un-stuck; this will take longer than 30 minutes.