Towards the end of the school year, I jumped at the opportunity to influence the preparation of students who enter my AP Calculus AB course. In doing so, I helped out two fellow mathematics teachers in my department by creating a course outline and pacing calendar for a new course they were going to teach: precalculus.
The two teachers, both of whom have been in the department far longer than me, were newly selected to teach precalculus, as the prior teacher just retired after a long and successful career teaching. They are excited for the opportunity to teach a higher level course. Yet, then, they were a little nervous about planning out the curriculum specifics for the course. While my effort benefited them considerably, for which they were very appreciative, it also provided me the opportunity to align our regular precalculus courses with AP Calculus AB. These past two years, students arrived in my course lacking skill in trigonometry, algebra, and functions. I hope to change this situation so I created the course outline and pacing calendar below.
The curriculum is based on the textbook: Precalculus, 7th ed. – Graphical, Numerical, Algebraic by Demana, Waits, Foley, and Kennedy.
Regular Precalculus Course Outline & Pacing Calendar
Fall semester serves as a bridge for most students as they complete an algebra 2 / trigonometry course before entering precalculus. Some students enter regular precalculus coming from an algebra 2 course that does not include trigonometry. Students who take honors precalculus mostly took algebra 2 / trigonometry.
I strongly recommend emphasizing multiple representations (verbal, algebraic, numeric, graphic) per topic / concept.
Spring semester primarily focuses on completing functions followed by an introduction to limits.
Many of these topics are covered in an honors precalculus course. While it is not necessary to have a regular precalculus course and honors precalculus course, per se, the adage “less is more” allows students entering an AP Calculus AB course to focus on the key prerequisites used in the course; whereas, those entering AP Calculus BC can opt for the honors course if they believe they can handle the faster pace of honors precalculus and AP Calculus BC.
The optional topics cover many of the prerequisites for precalculus. They serve as fodder for warm-ups prior to using a prerequisite in a precalculus context.
Let me know what folks think, especially those of you teaching AP Calculus AB.