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AoPS vs PAH for AP Calculus BC

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We are debating whether to have my daughter take the online AoPS or the PAH class for AP Calculus BC. Any thoughts on pros and cons? My daughter has taken an online class with AoPS and enjoyed it, she's worked through two books here at home. 

 

For those of you whose children took AP Calculus BC at PAH, how was Susan Gilleran's teaching? 

 

Any feedback or experiences you'd like to share are greatly appreciated!

 

 

Please let me know.

 

Thanks a lot!!

 

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My son took AP Calculus BC at PAH this year and honestly I wasn't that thrilled with it. He is sure he got a 4 or 5 on the test, so it was thorough, but not a great experience. A lot of the class was just "read this, do these problems." The teaching for the class is mostly in the notes she posts daily, but that is just more reading. She posts links to videos sometimes, but they are free ones on youtube, not her teaching. Also she never gave feedback on whether the kids were writing enough for the free response problems, they were just supposed to read the solutions and figure that out for themselves. Mrs. Gilleran got very sick and was basically missing for about a month, which didn't help, but we weren't happy with the class even before that.

 

ETA: He did get a 5 on the exam. I'd still rate it as a mediocre class.

Edited by anne1456
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I agree with all of the "cons" listed in the post above. 

 

This class is really a "self-study class" even though the setup is exactly like the setup of PAH AP Chem.  While there is a message board for both classes, there are  times when questions go unanswered in the calc class. This never happens in AP Chem - questions are always answered, usually by both a TA and the instructor.

 

However, that being said, for my kids, I believe the pros outweigh the cons.  Here are the "pros" in my opinion:*

1. The daily notes provide a good introduction to the day's topic.

 

2. Unlike one of my "homebrewed classes" which my kids tend to relegate to the bottom of the "needs to get done pile", (which results in my need to nag at times) this class keeps my kids on pace to finish the material in time for the AP exam because they are answering to someone other than me.

 

3. There is a ton of material handed out throughout the course that prepares the kids for the AP exam - material that I could not access on my own.

 

4. This class prepared my oldest extremely well for calc in college.  He used his 5 in AP calc to place into multivariable calc and got an A.  My soon to be college freshman plans to do the same at his school.

 

5. I prefer the textbook the PAH class uses over the AoPS textbook.

 

* Disclaimer: I am an engineer and am able to help my kids if they get stuck and don't understand a concept.  While these occasions were rare, I do think this class would have been much more difficult had I not been able to jump in on occasion.

 

ETA:  I also grade my kids' FRQs and review the results with my kids and provide them with suggestions on how to maximize their scores.

Edited by snowbeltmom
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* Disclaimer: I am an engineer and am able to help my kids if they get stuck and don't understand a concept.  While these occasions were rare, I do think this class would have been much more difficult had I not been able to jump in on occasion.

 

ETA:  I also grade my kids' FRQs and review the results with my kids and provide them with suggestions on how to maximize their scores.

 

If I am not able to do this, would you still recommend this class? Does that change the equation in favor of AoPS Calc? 

 

I am so disappointed to hear that the teacher doesn't provide feedback on FRQs. I am starting to really rethink if $$$ spent at PAH are worth it. 

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If I am not able to do this, would you still recommend this class? Does that change the equation in favor of AoPS Calc? 

 

I am so disappointed to hear that the teacher doesn't provide feedback on FRQs. I am starting to really rethink if $$$ spent at PAH are worth it. 

 

It would not change the equation for me, even if I could not assist my kids with this class.  I like the Larson textbook better than the AoPS book.  I think all of the practice that is provided in the PAH class geared specifically to taking the AP exam is very worthwhile and not just for the AP exam, but for mastering the concepts.

 

There are detailed answer keys provided for the FRQs that my kids could work through on their own if they had to - it is just more efficient for me to be involved at that point.  The CalcChat website that accompanies the textbook is also another useful component - that site also has live tutoring, although we have never used it.

 

The instructor does answer some of the student questions in the daily comments that she posts, but like the other poster mentioned, individual questions do go unanswered at times.  This class is not as good as AP Chem, but I have not encountered a single online asynchronous class that is better than AP Chem.  Mr. M. sets a very high standard.

 

 

 

 

 

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The best way to see if the AoPS class is right for you is to look at the textbook.  

 

My dd is taking the PAH course this fall, but she finished precalc last spring so we were able to get a head start on calculus using the AoPS textbook at home.  The AoPS material is heavy on the proofs which my dd loved, but isn't so useful for the exam.  There weren't enough practice problems for her to feel comfortable doing well on the exam.  I'm hoping she'll get a lot of practice problems at PAH so she can be automatic with her exam solutions.  

 

If anyone's dc is taking PAH ap calc or physics C this fall, PM me and maybe our kids can meet up on the discussion forums.  

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My son took AP Calculus BC at PAH this year and honestly I wasn't that thrilled with it. He is sure he got a 4 or 5 on the test, so it was thorough, but not a great experience. A lot of the class was just "read this, do these problems." The teaching for the class is mostly in the notes she posts daily, but that is just more reading. She posts links to videos sometimes, but they are free ones on youtube, not her teaching. Also she never gave feedback on whether the kids were writing enough for the free response problems, they were just supposed to read the solutions and figure that out for themselves. Mrs. Gilleran got very sick and was basically missing for about a month, which didn't help, but we weren't happy with the class even before that.

 

This is disappointing to hear.  I guess I kind of knew most of this, but I thought there would be more links to videos.  Aren't there videos within the e-text itself?  I guess I was counting on that to an extent.  I also thought there would be feedback on at least some of the FRQ's.  Someone else had already told me that the teacher doesn't give a ton of feedback on those, but I thought she did give some.  That seems like an important component of an AP course.

 

We were going to go with Derek Owens Calculus, but he only offers AB.  Plus, honestly, my dd just wanted to try something different.  

Edited by OnMyOwn
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I agree with all of the "cons" listed in the post above. 

 

This class is really a "self-study class" even though the setup is exactly like the setup of PAH AP Chem.  While there is a message board for both classes, there are  times when questions go unanswered in the calc class. This never happens in AP Chem - questions are always answered, usually by both a TA and the instructor.

 

However, that being said, for my kids, I believe the pros outweigh the cons.  Here are the "pros" in my opinion:*

1. The daily notes provide a good introduction to the day's topic.

 

2. Unlike one of my "homebrewed classes" which my kids tend to relegate to the bottom of the "needs to get done pile", (which results in my need to nag at times) this class keeps my kids on pace to finish the material in time for the AP exam because they are answering to someone other than me.

 

3. There is a ton of material handed out throughout the course that prepares the kids for the AP exam - material that I could not access on my own.

 

4. This class prepared my oldest extremely well for calc in college.  He used his 5 in AP calc to place into multivariable calc and got an A.  My soon to be college freshman plans to do the same at his school.

 

5. I prefer the textbook the PAH class uses over the AoPS textbook.

 

* Disclaimer: I am an engineer and am able to help my kids if they get stuck and don't understand a concept.  While these occasions were rare, I do think this class would have been much more difficult had I not been able to jump in on occasion.

 

ETA:  I also grade my kids' FRQs and review the results with my kids and provide them with suggestions on how to maximize their scores.

 

The main thing that still makes me nervous after reading this is that I'm not confident about grading my dd's FRQ's.  Do you think this is something most people could do even if they don't remember calculus as long as they study the solution and compare it to their student's answers? 

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The main thing that still makes me nervous after reading this is that I'm not confident about grading my dd's FRQ's.  Do you think this is something most people could do even if they don't remember calculus as long as they study the solution and compare it to their student's answers? 

 

Yes.  The rubrics are very clear, imo.  The solution will state, for example, "1 pt is awarded for stating that dx/dy = 0" 

 

You can go to the College Board website and view the grading rubric for the released FRQ's to get a better idea of what I am trying to say.

 

ETA: I do think teacher feedback of FRQs is more critical when taking a humanity AP vs the calc, chemistry or physics APs.  The math, chemistry, and physics FRQ's are not subjective.  If an equation or statement is listed, the rubric will state how many points to award.  At the end of the FRQ, you simply sum the number of individual points awarded for the problem.  There is really not much feedback an instructor could provide that is not already stated in the rubric. 

 

Edited by snowbeltmom
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Yes. The rubrics are very clear, imo. The solution will state, for example, "1 pt is awarded for stating that dx/dy = 0"

 

You can go to the College Board website and view the grading rubric for the released FRQ's to get a better idea of what I am trying to say.

 

ETA: I do think teacher feedback of FRQs is more critical when taking a humanity AP vs the calc, chemistry or physics APs. The math, chemistry, and physics FRQ's are not subjective. If an equation or statement is listed, the rubric will state how many points to award. At the end of the FRQ, you simply sum the number of individual points awarded for the problem. There is really not much feedback an instructor could provide that is not already stated in the rubric.

 

That is very encouraging to hear. Thank you!

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My ds started cal with PAH, but he was bored to tears. He dropped PAH and took the AoPS cal class that started in Oct. The class finished the AoPS text early April and he studied for the AP exam during the rest of the month. He was more than prepared calculus-wise. For prep he spent time doing calculator problems and learning how to write the free response questions. He says the Barron's book is good for prep.

 

Fwiw, he loves proofs. He much preferred AoPS proof problems vs. the PAH textbook problem sets. He was also well prepared for all of his upper level math courses (he is a rising college sr with a physics and math double and has never made anything lower than a high A in any physics or math class. He attributes his strength in math to AoPS.)

 

Zero regret for letting him run from Susan Gilleran's class back to math he looked forward to via AoPS.

Edited by 8FillTheHeart
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I think that everyone has summarized the differences in AoPS and PA Homeschoolers calc classes pretty well already.

 

Acing an AP calculus exam boils down to (1) having the knowledge, and (2) fluency in problem solving and practice with AP exam questions.

 

You can accomplish (1) in a variety of ways! Either of the online courses will get you there. AoPS has more theory if your kid is interested. I let my kids choose what worked for them (& they chose quite different paths!)

 

You can accomplish (2) with either built-in course review or by working through practice problems on your own. Either way, you do need to build up your speed to finish the AP exam within the time limits. PA Homeschoolers are usually great in wrapping that process into their classes. But you can certainly do it with AoPS, too.

 

I tutored five self-study & AoPS kids through AP calc exam study successfully over the years, including 8's son.

 

I outlined what I did in this thread yesterday. It does take time & energy to figure out which topics need review and to target those areas. My experience is that after a month or so, they've gotten where they need to be speed wise.

 

Good luck!

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My guinea pig oldest did the AP Calc BC in May after finishing the AoPS calculus online class in April. A few things helped for him.

 

1) We checked the AP exam schedule for May 2017 last summer and checked which exam falls on the same day as the AP Calculus exams. He took AP Computer Science A as well and that was a week earlier so that was good spacing for him. For 2018, those exams fall on the same day.

2018 AP exam schedule http://apcentral.collegeboard.com/apc/public/exam/dates_fees/index.html

 

2) We printed the FRQs for Calculus AB and Calculus BC in Summer and just put those into a 3 ring binder to get ready.

Calculus BC FRQs and solutions link up to 2016 http://apcentral.collegeboard.com/apc/members/exam/exam_information/232222.html

Calculus BC FRQ for 2017 https://secure-media.collegeboard.org/ap/pdf/ap-calculus-bc-frq-2017.pdf

 

3) In March, he tried a FRQ from Calculus AB and from Calculus BC before we decide if we should go ahead and let him take the AP Calculus BC exam. We didn't need him to get a good score but we didn't want him to fail either.

 

4) He did the practice tests in the Barron's test prep book after the AP Computer Science A exam to get used to doing the MCQ and the FRQs in one sitting and under timed conditions. We borrowed the latest Barron's book using Interlibrary loan so we didn't buy a copy.

 

5) He did know how to use his TI84 CE decently before calculus. He writes his own mini-programs for fun and he plays PACman on his TI84. It helps in that he knows when to use his calculator and when it is just easier to work it out by hand or mentally. We bought the graphing calculator during back to school sales for around $89.

 

(ETA: He scored a 5)

 

It does take time & energy to figure out which topics need review and to target those areas. My experience is that after a month or so, they've gotten where they need to be speed wise.

I agree.

 

ETA:

My hard to please kid did not fancy the Larson textbooks and the Stewart textbooks. Besides he is under 13 and AoPS didn't care how old he is.

Edited by Arcadia
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Regarding the calculator...there are sections of the AP exam where a calculator is not permitted.  I purchase the TI-inspire CAS for them to use on the calculator sections of the exam.  This is the calculator my son has used in college on the rare occasions that he is permitted a calculator.

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Regarding the calculator...there are sections of the AP exam where a calculator is not permitted.  I purchase the TI-inspire CAS for them to use on the calculator sections of the exam.  This is the calculator my son has used in college on the rare occasions that he is permitted a calculator.

 

Is this the one you are talking about?  https://www.amazon.com/Texas-Instruments-Nspire-Graphing-Calculator/dp/B004NBZAYS/ref=sr_1_fkmr1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1498592399&sr=8-1-fkmr1&keywords=T1%2BInspire%2BCAS&th=1  or this? https://www.amazon.com/Texas-Instruments-TI-Nspire-Handheld-Touchpad/dp/B00B7N4W80/ref=sr_1_fkmr1_4?ie=UTF8&qid=1498592399&sr=8-4-fkmr1&keywords=T1+Inspire+CAS

 

Big difference in price!

 

I seem to remember someone saying that this calculator is easier/more intuitive to use than the T1-83.  Is that correct?

Edited by OnMyOwn
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The first one (the expensive one) you have listed is the one I get for my kids.  The graphics are amazing and it is definitely easier to use, imo, than any of the other TI calculators, including the TI-89. 

 

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For anyone that may be interested, I have decided to create a homebrewed calc class for my youngest kiddo and get the syllabus approved by the College Board.

If anyone is interested in using my syllabus for a homebrewed class of your own, please pm me and I will send you a copy of the syllabus once I get approval.

 

Here are the resources I will be using:

 

The textbook Calculus for AP by Larson.  I have decided to use this textbook because it has a lot of free resources, such as CalcChat (with solutions to all odd problems in the textbook and online free tutors) and CalcView (with videos for each chapter).  The textbook also has end of chapter problems that mimic those found on both the multiple choice and FRQ sections of the exam, so kiddo will be able to have ongoing prep for the problems encountered on the AP exam..

 

I am going to supplement with the following:

Calculus by AoPS

Be Prepared for the AP Calculus Exam by Howell and Montgomery

Released exams by the College Board

 

 

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Wow, thank you so much for sharing!  I am trying to decide what to do for DS right now.  He will be a senior, so the main goal will be for him to feel prepared for college.  He took Calc AB with Mr. Lanctot at PAHS this year and got a 5 on the exam, and he felt pretty confident on it, so I think he was well prepared.  He has taken 4 PAHS AP classes so far, and in all of them, I feel like he has not really taken full advantage of using the teacher for answering questions, so if the BC PAHS class is even more challenging in that regard, that might worry me.  I am also worried about having too many synchronous classes, as I feel like the fall is going to be really busy.  It might be good to have one at our own pace.

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I am trying to decide what to do for DS right now. He will be a senior, so the main goal will be for him to feel prepared for college.

Let him try the 2012 released exam for Calculus BC. You can see what the gaps are between AP Calculus AB and BC. Then you and your son can decide whether you want to spend a year on AP Calculus BC course or DE calc 2 or just use the Barron's (or any other) test prep book to fill in the gaps. I found the FRQs on the CollegeBoard webpage plentiful for practicing and for analyzing the scoring guidelines. The test prep book was useful for the MCQ section.

 

This link has the MCQ and the FRQ sections and answer key for 2012 and is 85 pages. https://secure-media.collegeboard.org/digitalServices/pdf/ap/ap-calculus-bc-practice-exam-2012.pdf

This link is by a catholic high school teacher and has her explanation for the multiple choice questions. http://www.billsjmchs.com/Calculus_BC/2012_practice_exam_BC.pdf

 

I get a break from AP Calculus next year since younger boy won't be taking the exam until earliest May 2019.

 

ETA:

2008 MCQ and FRQ with answer key https://static.secure.website/wscfus/5807541/5565556/2008-ap-calculusbc-exam-released.pdf

Edited by Arcadia
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8 hours ago, DocMom said:

Can I bump this thread about updates or any other thoughts looking back?

 

My "homebrewed" course that I outlined up-thread (I had to create a new user name after the board change-over for some reason) worked out very well.  My D utilized many of the free video explanations on calcview and used calcchat's written solutions to grade her problem sets.  I think she even utilized the free tutor-chat a couple of times.

Getting the syllabus approved by the College Board was definitely worth it for us - I was given access to a lot of teaching material (additional problems) that I otherwise wouldn't have had.  

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