kitchen table math, the sequel: Advice Needed for Summer Math Class

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Advice Needed for Summer Math Class

My son needs to take Calc Honors next year (sr year of high school).  He took Trig Log Calc Honors as a sophomore, but it was a waste of a year.  Catherine's son had same teacher -- so it was same problems, but then add to that that he was out sick with mono for 6 weeks.

He did not take Calc this year (i.e. Junior Year) because it would have been the same teacher, and we could not live through that again.  Plus, he didn't want to take that risk for  his junior year transcript.

Instead, he took AP Stat - which is fun for him, but not really a math class.

So, I need to get him ready this summer to take Calc in the Fall.  First, I'm not sure if he should take a pre-calc class -- or take a calc class and just audit it, my thought being that he'd  pre-learn the material before school starts.

So that's my first question: Calc class vs Pre-Calc. class

Here are the 3 options I was thinking about:

1) MIT Online math class.  I haven't looked into, but I understand they have High School courses.  He loves this idea.  I wonder whether an online course could work for him.

2) Local community college (Mercy).

3) Local Private school summer course (Horace Man was recommended).  IT needs to be some place he can get to via public transportation, as I can't drive to from every day.

The other thing to add is that he has a summer job lined up (90%) -- so the most time-efficient way for him to do that is a variable too.  i.e MIT sounds appealing because it's on his own schedule.  Horace Mann sounds good because it's only 6 weeks (I think).  I haven't checked into Mercy College schedule.


Jo said...

This is one of those situations at which I think excels.

Because you pay by time, not by the course, you could start him in pre-calc. It would pre-test him and mark off all objectives that he knows. Then, he only has to correctly work 3 problems to prove he knows an objective. There are periodic reviews that can "erase" the fact that he knows an objective if he misses it on a review.

Once he finishes pre-calc, he could start calc and go as far as the two of you deem appropriate.

I think it's far better for review than for learning things fresh, but it's not horrid for learning new things. There's no video or animations -- it's pretty much text on a web page. It is completely self-paced and customized to his known progress, though.

It also gives you a choice on what to do next from several options and the "pie" (graphical representation of what you've learned/have yet to learn) is surprisingly motivating.

Anonymous said...

Also, go get "Prof. E. McSquared's Calculus Primer" and read it. Do the exercises.

See these sites:

-Mark Roulo

Rich Beveridge said...

Capilano University in Vancouver BC has an opencourseware website for MTH105 PreCalculus.

Although the link says Calculus I, the page itself says Pre-Calc and the content is all Pre-Calc. It's based on the Stewart Pre-Calc text and has a syllabus, sample tests and assignments. This is good content in preparation for Calculus.

debbie stier said...

Thank you for all of t here great suggestions.

Crimson Wife said...

I'd do an online course and one that has some accountability to it. I have heard some really good things about Derek Owens' courses. Info on his pre-calc class can be found here.

Anne Dwyer said...

I wouldn't do any pre calc or calc class in 6 weeks. I taught a 7 week calc class last summer and I wouldn't wish it on anyone.

I love the MIT online classes. I used the calc class quite a bit to get ideas on how to present a topic. However, without doing the problems and getting feedback on them, it would be hard to master the material.

I vote for some combination of online with teacher backup. It's always good to be able to bring specific problems to a teacher if you are having trouble.

Jeff Boulier said...

I concur with Anne -- precalculus in six weeks is simply brutal. There's not enough time to really absorb the material. I suppose if he has had it already, he might just need a refresher to fill in the gaps, but it still would be a massive amount of work. This is especially true if he has a summer job lined up.

Bostonian said...

How well does your son do on the SAT I math section and on the SAT Subject Test in Mathematics Level 2? He can find complete practice tests online and in College Board books. If he scores in the 700s on both, especially the subject test, which covers math up to but not including calculus, he is likely ready for calculus. With scores below 600 I'd be wary.

Bostonian said...

You can look at NYU's calculus placement criteria at . One criterion is an SAT math subject test (level 1 or 2) score of 650 or higher.