I'm losing my mind...precalc

Discussion in 'Secondary Education' started by atomic, May 7, 2014.

  1. atomic

    atomic Companion

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    May 7, 2014

    I can't get my mind around my precalculus students.

    They are doing SO bad! I think they are all cheating on HW, not studying, and have given up.

    I don't know what they were expecting, but precalc IS hard!
     
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  3. CindyBlue

    CindyBlue Cohort

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    May 8, 2014

    Been there...
    How were they scheduled into the class? What pre-req knowledge did they have to prove that they had before they were allowed to take the class? Maybe adjusting that can help for next year...
     
  4. MikeTeachesMath

    MikeTeachesMath Devotee

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    May 8, 2014

    I'm so against the mere existence of precalculus courses. It's not even funny.

    Have you tried simply talking to them?
     
  5. Math

    Math Cohort

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    May 8, 2014

    Why are you against Pre-Calc? I currently take the course and feel like it is truly preparing me for Calc. I even loved Pre-Algebra because I felt it really prepared me for Algebra 1.

    Are the students in Pre-Calc general level students?
     
  6. atomic

    atomic Companion

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    May 9, 2014

    It's an "honors" class. It seems the state had set a % for how many students we "should" have in honors and we need to keep those numbers up.

    So, the only pre-req is algebra 2 honors with a B...and that's EASY with our current forced % grade breakdown and mandatory Test and quiz retake policy.

    We are also supposed to increase our AP numbers...which only means lowering the standards for getting into AP.
     
  7. Math

    Math Cohort

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    May 9, 2014

    Are you also required to have a certain amount of them passing at the end of the year? Has anyone else at your school taught the course? Can your Department Chairperson give some advice?
     
  8. atomic

    atomic Companion

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    May 9, 2014

    Required? Not exactly. But if they aren't, the responsibility always falls in the teacher.

    You'll also find yourself with a greater amount of the least desirable courses.

    They never prepare you for the politics of teaching.
     
  9. MrsRed

    MrsRed Rookie

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    May 9, 2014

    Mike, I'm also curious about why you are against Pre-Calc courses. Can you elaborate?
     
  10. MikeTeachesMath

    MikeTeachesMath Devotee

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    May 9, 2014

    Let me see if I can formulate this coherently...

    I'm a firm believer that, for those students who want to take AP Calculus (or any other calculus course), you get all the preparation you need from algebra, geometry, and trigonometry courses.

    I just took a precalc textbook off my shelf. Here's the table of contents with my edits.

    Chapters 1 - 3 — factoring, absolute value, exponents, radicals, linear and quadratic eqs, functions, graphing lines and quadratics, inverse functions

    All of that is learned in algebra and then CONSISTENTLY reinforced in the next few years.

    Chapters 4 - 5 — exponential functions, logs, angles, trig functions, graphing trig functions, inverse trig functions

    All of that is learned in Algebra 2/Trig and/or geometry.

    Here’s another thing: there is so much material in precalc courses that simply isn’t required for calculus, or is being taught WAY too early. Why do they need to know vectors? They won't use them until multivariable calc, and every single multivar calc course I've seen always reviews vectors at the beginning.

    In my opinion, in order to be properly prepared for calculus, you need to know:

    1) Graphing — slopes, equations, tangent lines, piecewise functions, absolute value, parabolas, polynomials, max and mins, intercepts, asymptotes

    2) Geometry — basic formulas (pythagorean, circles, triangles, pyramids, cones, trapezoids)

    3) Trigonometry — unit circle, pythagorean identities, working knowledge of trig functions

    In my opinion, that’s it. You learn all of that in algebra, geometry, and alg2/trig, rendering precalculus useless.

    It also kills me when students who have absolutely zero intent of going into a STEM field are corralled into precalculus their senior year. Put them into something that's going to be useful for them, like business math or everyday math for life.
     
  11. Math

    Math Cohort

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    May 9, 2014

    Okay so somethings I see are learned in Geometry. Then you said some in Algebra 2 and also Trig. I know my course is Pre-Calc/Trig.
     
  12. MikeTeachesMath

    MikeTeachesMath Devotee

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    I just looked up the NJ DOE model curriculum for math, and it's pretty much the same as NY: Algebra 1, Geometry, Alg2/Trig. This way, you take Alg1 in 9th, Geo in 10th, Alg2/Trig in 11th, and then AP Calc AB in 12th. Or if you're advanced, shift that all back one grade, and then add AP Calc BC in 12th.
     
  13. Math

    Math Cohort

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    No we would double for Geometry/Algebra II.
     
  14. MikeTeachesMath

    MikeTeachesMath Devotee

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    I think Geo and Alg2/Trig is too much for one year.
     
  15. SF_Giants66

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    May 9, 2014

    I took Pre-Calculus in college and I hated it. I got a C in it and then got an A in Calculus 1. I felt everything essential in Pre-Calculus was re-iterated in Calculus 1, without the extra tedious trigonometry and logarithms.
     
  16. gr3teacher

    gr3teacher Phenom

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    I found Pre-Calculus to be a significantly harder class than Calc 1. I took both more than ten years ago, so I don't remember much in the way of specifics, but it seems to me that Pre-Calc was a lot of new material, while Calc 1 was a mix of new material, and Pre-Calc review.
     
  17. atomic

    atomic Companion

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    May 12, 2014

    If only Algebra 2 really covered all those topics. It's primarily a review of lines and the intro to quadratics. It would be awesome if we could touch on logs and exponentials.

    Since the introduction of algebra 2 for all, we've lowered the scope of the course. It's gonna be really tough when the state starts their own testing of the subject next year.
     
  18. CindyBlue

    CindyBlue Cohort

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    May 13, 2014

    "If only Algebra 2 really covered all those topics. It's primarily a review of lines and the intro to quadratics. It would be awesome if we could touch on logs and exponentials."

    Now there's an interesting (if derailing) question...what topics do we all get through in Algebra 2?
     
  19. underthesun

    underthesun Rookie

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    May 13, 2014

    Huh, it's interesting how different precalc classes must be state to state! I remember taking precalc in my sophomore year, and I remember the entire class being full of new concepts that we learned; I don't remember it reviewing much of algebra 2 or geometry at all, actually. I never did end up taking AP Calc, though, so maybe that all ended up be overlapped there, I couldn't say.

    On that other note, though, I don't think it's possible for many schools to put students in "math that's going to be useful for them". I know my high school never even offered things like business math in the first place, but beyond that, every student was required to take 4 math courses while in high school (regardless of what had already been completed in middle school, for those of us who took algebra and geometry and whatnot before getting to high school). So, if I hadn't taken precalc, for instance, I would have needed to fill that math slot with a lower-level course, like Intro to College Math, one that I likely wouldn't have learned a single thing. I never had any intention of being in a STEM field, but I certainly would've thrown a fit had I been told I couldn't be in precalc because of it, and instead I was going to be shuffled into a lower level class.
     

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