Friday, January 21, 2011


At the end of class yesterday I asked each of my Calc II students to write down two things: the single topic (of all those we've addressed so far) about which she feels most confused, and the single topic about which she feels most confident.

The results?


What are you confused about?

  1. Antiderivatives: 3
  2. Riemann sums and finding area: 6
  3. Basics from Calc I: 7
  4. Trigonometry: 7
  5. u-substitution: 10
What do you feel good about?
  1. Setting up problems: 1
  2. Riemann sums: 1
  3. Derivatives: 2
  4. Antiderivatives: 8
  5. Finding area: 10
  6. u-substitution: 10
I find it funny that equally many people find u-substitution confusing as find it fine. More people are okay with both antidifferentiation and area-finding than aren't, and there seems to be more uncertainty about carry-over from Calc I than there is about anything else.

Bottom line? I don't think any adjustments are necessary at this point. I'll just keep in mind that people are going to want reminders about tricksy twists in trig and algebra as those twists appear (as they did today in the form of 30-60-90 right triangles).

Having identified several students in this class who are accomplished writers, I'm including in this course a greater-than-even-I-generally-include number of writing-to-learn exercises. Today we ended class with a two-minute reflection on the process of finding volumes using integrals; I hope it helped.

In other news, I've now finished three of the tentatively-six chapters of my book. This weekend I hope to make a dent in Chapter 4, which deals with assessing and responding to student writing. The current draft's largely complete but is still rather ellipsis-ridden...

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