Sunday, September 11, 2011

PREPARING FOR CALCULUS

If you're starting a Calculus class, here's a plan for preparing to learn in the classroom from day one. If you're in Pre-calculus, these concepts should be part of your learning goal for the term. This was actually written at the end of the summer, but the thought is worth sharing even now that the semester has started. It's never too late to strengthen math skills.
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I was reading through a chatroom of Calculus teachers and saw an interesting entry. Teachers were asking whether to do the Review Chapter before actually starting the Calculus material and one experienced teacher suggested reviewing topics right before they will be needed for moving on in the class.

His point is well taken. “Why review Trigonometry when it won’t come up in the curriculum until next January? “ Good point in my mind...and something I’m suggesting you implement on your own regardless of the class assignments. No, I don’t mean you should NOT do the assigned work. If the teacher goes through the review chapter, you should do the required homework. My suggestion is to review on your own even if the teacher doesn’t require it.

And the first things you should review for beginning calculus are graphs, factoring, the distributive property, and reducing rational expressions.

Know the standard graphs and their transitions. Know how to obtain a visual representation of any equation with your calculator of choice.

Be able to factor any polynomial (including factor out commons and those P’s and Q’s for limiting possible rational solutions) and recognize special factoring issues like difference of 2 perfect squares and perfect square trinomials.

Insure against common errors in applying the distributive property. Watch your signs.

Know the difference between “cancel” and “reduce” and always remember that you can only reduce if you’re multiplying/dividing.....NEVER reduce or cancel out something from a polynomial.