AP Class Reviews
AP Calculus AB taught by Amelia Chan
by Students and Parents
An Exciting Environment for Cultivating Calculus posted by Álmos Quevedo on January 13 2022 at 14:09:33
What I consider to be the most prominent and helpful aspect of this course is the lively environment created by being able to ask and answer questions on a discussion board and during the weekly live Zoom classes. Ms. Chan always made sure that our knowledge is not just a bunch of formulas stuffed into a static brain: when one just reads the book and does the assignment, the understanding is limited to one's own perspective - a very precarious position; however, when one has the opportunity to discuss concepts in class, to have to actually mouth out what would otherwise go unspoken (and saying things, as we know, helps in learning), to hear other approaches, and even to see mistaken approaches, the mental database becomes more of a "dataflow," more versatile and less liable to be forgotten. The reason I mention this is that many online courses are dry and lack this aspect entirely.
- How many hours of work per day or per week did you generally put into the course?
On average I worked about 5-6 hours a week on calculus; the due date was nearly always Thursday, so my schedule was usually around 2 hours a day Monday to Wednesday. (Wednesday was the day of our live class, so I tried to finish everything by then.)
- Did the course enhance your interest in the subject?
I've never been uninterested in calculus in the first place - I was itching to start this class in August - but there were several concepts that I used to look upon as onerous or pesky. For example, I used to have a sort of aversion to sums, word problems, geometry, equations of lines... in short, to Algebra I sort of things. I felt the problems were boxy. Then, back in September, when I read in Section 1.1 of the textbook that "Calculus is the mathematics of change," I got excited. I started to feel problems were flowing more, that math was more capable and flexible than I had thought. So yes, the course definitely broadened the scope of my mathematical interests.
- Did you find your communications with other students to be interesting or valuable?
Oh yes! Every week Ms. Chan started a discussion thread where we could talk about that week's material. Needless to say, being able to ask is great. But what is greater still is that most of the times you get your reply from another student! My classmates were super nice and helpful, and the TA's also sneaked in a reply now and then. Also, since we don't all make mistakes in the same areas, it was very useful to see others' mistakes. It's easy to get confused when you read a question, because behind the question there is a grain of misunderstanding, and that grain seeps through and shatters your neatly studied calculus to pieces. Stop. Recollect for a minute and get it right again. If you manage, then answer the question on the discussion board. You don't know how much that helps!
- What sort of student would do well in this course? Would you recommend this course to other students (if they are willing to work hard!)?
I'd definitely recommend Ms. Chan's course to anybody, on one condition: you are determined to master the material no matter how unpromisingly confusing it might seem now and then. The course is very inspiring in itself, but, as with any course, you have to inspire yourself too!
Excellent Teacher, Excellent Class! posted by Emerson Allen on January 13 2022 at 13:52:16
Did you feel the course prepared you for the AP exam?
Absolutely. I’ve taken 10 other AP classes, and Ms. Chan’s class has undoubtedly prepared me the best for the AP exam!
How many hours of work per day or per week did you generally put into the course?
It depends on what assignments I have. On normal weeks, I might spend 5-10 hours on the class. On exam weeks, I could spend 20+ hours preparing for and taking the exam.
Are there any particularly favorite assignments that you found especially valuable?
In this class, “participation” is mostly optional — discussion forums, live class, etc. — so many students don’t participate. These opportunities are the most valuable and I think have made the difference between an A and a B for me!
Ms. Chan is able to explain complex concepts very clearly, so I’d definitely recommend attending class and watching the optional review videos that she creates. During class, students can volunteer to try working through problems on the Zoom whiteboard. Everyone makes mistakes, but Ms. Chan is always able to guide us to the correct answer and clear up any misconceptions we have.
Did the course enhance your interest in the subject?
Yes. Calculus has become part of the way I think about the world — I can’t really imagine the world without calculus anymore. Calculus will quickly become one of the most useful and practical math classes you have ever taken.
Did you find your communications with other students to be interesting or valuable?
Yes. We have discussion forums in Canvas where we can post questions, and other students or TAs will answer. The opportunity to get questions answered easily is of course very valuable, but I’ve also found that I learn a lot from responding to other students’ questions. This is another optional feature of the class that I would definitely recommend taking advantage of!
What sort of student would do well in this course? Would you recommend this course to other students (if they are willing to work hard!)?
To do well in this class, it obviously helps to have a solid math foundation (especially algebra 1 and trig). If trig was a struggle for you, I’d definitely recommend reviewing this content at the beginning of the semester. After putting some time into a trig review, I found I was able to succeed in this class.
Also, be determined. At the beginning of each semester, a new concept is introduced. It will feel very foreign at first, so it’s difficult to grasp. I’ve realized that having determination and patience in the first few weeks of class will be worth it, and soon everything becomes clear.
The majority of your grade comes from tests and exams. (Homework is only worth 10%.) That said, Ms. Chan does curve grades so that what would be a 5 on the AP exam equals an A. If you're willing to work hard and take advantage of all the resources that Ms. Chan offers, you can and will succeed!
I would 100% recommend this course to other students. I've never been a “math person," but I’ve found it interesting and completely do-able. Ms. Chan is an excellent teacher!
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