Sunday, August 26, 2012

Proud to Share Algebra Boot Camp for Calculus

Each year in Calculus, I seem to make it a little farther with my students. I have been able to improve the course a little each year to the point where I feel my students were able to not only reach farther, but also get themselves deeper in the understanding of the concepts of calculus.

I am feeling even better about this year. I have a few things in store to make sure my students are able to focus on the key calculus concepts and that they are able to draw connections that will solidify their new learning even better. 

Change 1: Algebra Boot Camp
We have had just two days of school so far, and I am proud to share the first week's work of Calculus material. With the inspiration of samjshah's post "Algebra Bootcamp in Calculus"  I too made a bootcamp. I also have found those darn algebra skills causing so much grief.

Algebra could potentially take away from the calculus. Students getting held up on algebra tends to cause frustration. They triumph over defeating the algebra, but in this triumph over struggle, lost track of the new Calculus skill they were actually trying to do.

Then, there are just those algebra common errors.  Students doing things like this= AAHHHHH!!!!

I gave boot camp 1 on the first day of school and boot camp 2 on the second day of school to my calculus class. Here are those handouts:

I feel this was a great start of the year. In my calculus videos/lessons, I can refer to these boot camp skills. They have the worksheets in the binders/notes, so they can refer back to their findings and review. Plus, it was kind of fun to see them resurface these skills. I stepped back, and told them to use their resources and each other. I was pleasently surprised to see they remembered most of these! They worked in groups of 4 and bounced ideas off of each other very well to complete the worksheets. We had great follow-up discussion about answers following the completion.

Change 2: A huge collaborative concept map to link the concepts and skills of calculus. 
Now this one is not one I have done yet, so hopefully I will proudly be able to share this later as I go along. One project I plan on doing is having them make a concept map throughout the course of the year. After each unit, they will collaborate as a group to come up with key skills and concepts they have learned throughout the sections of the unit. They will be putting these skills and concepts into though bubbles (made out of construction paper maybe) and sticking them to the wall. It will be an ever-changing concept map where they can edit connections as we progress. I want to just do it on the wall using construction paper, but I was also thinking about having them do on on a Prezi. 


  1. Thanks for sharing your handouts for Algebra Boot Camp. I am not teaching Calculus this year, but I have been thinking about how I would do this if I were teaching Calc again. It's nice to hear how someone else would adapt what Sam does.

  2. I love the idea of doing boot camps for skills students should have previously learned. I think it would be great for any class! I'm going to try to incorporate it in my Algebra I class this year with skills they should have mastered in middle school. Thanks!