And Calculus For All

12/14/2008 11:35:00 pm

When I returned to work after 10 weeks of parental leave I wanted to find a way to measure how well my AP Calculus students had learned and understood what a derivative was. So, the day I returned to class I challenged them to create a commercial that educates: What is a derivative?

Some of the parameters they have are:

  • The video must educate people who know nothing about calculus.
  • The video must be published on YouTube.
  • Students may work in teams of up to 3 people.
  • No images of students faces. Masks or other methods of obscuring their identities may be used.
  • No algebra.
  • Maximum video length: 30 seconds.
  • Include as many different descriptions as possible in the time allowed.

The way we're doing this is I have published a video to YouTube describing the assignment and extended it as a challenge to the entire math community on YouTube. Students will "hand in" their commercials as video replies to mine.

I'm hoping other people in the math community on YouTube reply to the challenge. It will go a long way to adding another layer of authenticity to the assignment and create a more meaningful reason than "marks" to create high quality content: social credit.

Social credit is a powerful motivational force in the lives of teens; a force that hasn't fully been tapped in educational circles. It's behind the outstanding work some of my students do on their class blogs. I'm trying to be more deliberate about accessing that potential in new ways this year.

The video has just been published to the AP Calculus 2008 blog. The students commercials should be published by Friday morning.

If you have a moment, head over to their blog and leave them a comment telling them you're looking forward to their commercials. It'll help make real their sense of audience and perhaps encourage them to do their very best before they hit the publish button on their videos.

Calculus Commercial Seed Video

Photo Credit: Excuse Me Ma'm... by flickr user nobleignoble

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