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Advice from calculus students from the past…

Read them and see if any of the advice sticks out at you as useful. Not every piece of advice is going to be useful for every student, but you might find a few things here and there that speak to you.
*** First, a few rules of the classroom are 1. never divide by zero, 2. refer to all homework as home enjoyment, 3. If you need help just ask. Fellow classmates can sometimes be just as good of a help resource as the Wizard of Shah himself. Second, some advice. (1) Reassess. It’s a pain in the butt, but honestly if you don’t it builds up and each skill is way more important than you think it will be. (2) As boring as the homework often can be, especially the text book work, just do it. (3) Study for assessments. Just because you have one basically every week and you think you know what you are doing seriously just doing like two problems can be the difference between a 4 and a 1. (4) Email Mr. Shah. If you have a problem or didn’t do something, basically if you want to tell him anything, email him first. And thirdly, JUST HAVE FUN! *** Just do the work. Seriously. Calculus is a lot better if you just make an effort and pay attention. I was never a personally to really like math, but I still had a good time in the class. Mr. Shah is the kind of teacher who makes these things interesting and fun for me, so the least I can do to repay him is to give him effort in my work. Take advantage of his system of reassessments if you screw something up, but take the time to learn what you did wrong. Second chances are great, but it will be even worse for you if you have to take it again and again. And only reassess if you really need to; don’t not study because you can put it off until later. Better to just get it out of the way the first time. And just because the year starts to wind down during the second semester doesn’t mean that you should just stop doing work completely. It’s nice because there’s no pressure on you, but it doesn’t give you a reason to stop. Take pride in your work. I did. Maybe that’s just my over-righteous sense of morality. Don’t get me wrong; it’s not the end of the world if you miss some homeworks, but it’s not a good look either. If you don’t do it for your own sake, do it for Mr. Shah. As math goes, this is a pretty great class. *** Don’t hesitate to reassess. It’s a great tool to use since you don’t get it in any of your other classes, and it can really help your grade. Also, don’t wait too long to take your reassessments. If you wait until the last few weeks of the quarter you will be backlogged with reassessments and so will not be able to take all the ones you want to. Adding on to this, do the reassessment form e-mails thoroughly. It’s annoying when Mr. Shah sends it back saying it’s not good enough and you have to do it again. Write down all your scores on your skills on your skill sheet so it is easier to see what you need to reassess. Keep your papers in a binder, because if you don’t, you’ll end up like *messy student’s name+. And finally, the most important of all. Do NOT, and I repeat DO NOT sit next to [particular student]. For that matter, don’t sit next to *student+ or *student] either. They like to hit you a lot while Mr. Shah’s back is turned. *** I know that right you you’re feeling really stressed out about calculus, but don’t worry – there’s good news! They’re bringing Arrested Development back! No, seriously, they actually are. Also, calculus really isn’t going to be as bad as you think it’s going to be. I mean, sure, there will be some concepts that will confuse you and that you’ll struggle with, but on the whole it won’t be nearly as hard as you think it’s going to be.

The most important thing is making sure to keep an open mind. I know you’ve never liked math much before, but Mr. Shah will do a good job of making concepts easy to understand, and even enjoyable in some cases. You also don’t need to do much of anything involving logarithms, conic sections, or the unit circle, so you don’t need to think about any of those awful things again. Also sort of makes you wonder why this school even made us take precalc in the first place… no matter, calculus will actually prove to be enjoyable if you allow it to. So keep an open mind. Mr. Shah’s opportunities for reassessment will really help you keep your grades up. Don’t be afraid to use them! Of course, don’t get so lazy that you have to reassess everything, but don’t sweat too much over individual assessments. You’ll be able to reassess and make up for all the stuff you miss the first time, so take advantage of that. It’s also important not to fall behind on work. It’s tempting to blow it off, because doing work doesn’t actually affect your grade in any way. In other words, you could never do any home enjoyment and still get the exact same grade. However, if you don’t do work, you will fall behind big time! And then you’ll have to catch up and that won’t be fun. You’ll also have to do a ton of reassessments. It’ll be hard to do it every night, especially once the college process is over, but make sure you try to keep up.

*** Some advice that I have is to completely understand the topics before the assessments so that you won’t have to do reassessments and the worries that it can sometimes bring. Whenever you don’t understand something, speak to Mr. Shah and he will help you understand what it is you do not understand. Try varying problems on the same topic, and try to challenge yourself by changing the problems a big while studying for assessments as it will help make you prepared for every variation of the questions. Do not let past assessments that you did poorly on add up, since by the end of the quarter you will be in a rush to get the reassessments in. It is better to use the reassessments really as a safety net in case you don’t get the assessments the first time. Always try your hardest on the assessments the first time, since they do add up very quickly and can make you overwhelmed and stressed. Try to understand topics as a whole and then focus in on the details as I see that is useful. Good luck on your future endeavors in Calculus. *** Watch out for that bus coming right at you! Just kidding. You’re not going to get hit by a bus. If you did, then I wouldn’t be sending this. Duh. Use your brain. Firstly, do not assume that the elevator moves with great celerity and arrives moments after pressing the buttong when you’re trying to get to class first thing, especially on Friday mornings at B band. Give yourself 5 minutes to use the elevator. Yes, it seems a little counterproductive to leave early for something that’s supposed to make the walking process faster, but just listen to me. Or else you’ll show up late all the time, and that’s bad. Secondly, go to the maintenance department and ask them to replace the fluorescent bulbs in the calculus room with some nice warm lighting instead. When it’s cold outside, the fluorescents make the room seem cold, and when it’s warm, they just make it feel sad. Warm lighting will definitely help you enjoy your time in the room a bit more. Now for the math stuff. Fill out the packets thoroughly. Don’t just write the shortcut, write out the original thing first. You will confuse yourself when trying to review for an assessment. You should also know that your time working on precalculus over the summer will serve you well throughout the year; make sure you keep those factoring, exponents (including negative exponents) and other rules of algebra fresh, as you need them for pretty much every unit you go through. Even if you get the concepts, you won’t be able to get to the final answer unless you can do the algebra. Also, keep those calculator skills fresh! Even if you’re confident in your work throughout the year, having the calculator to

double check your work means that 1) you know the calculus well enough to be able to program it/do it on the calculator 2) you can be sure on assessments and home enjoyment that you are doing it right. Before taking an assessment, don’t do what you’re going to do periodically throughout the year and just understand how to do the algebra; like I said, that’s clearly important, but you should learn (especially by the end of the fourth quarter) that Mr. Shah is going to ask you on 95% of assessments to prove that you actually get what you’re talking about. If you’re going to reassess on the Riemann Sum skill (something you’ll learn about later), for example, make sure that you actually understand what each part of the program means, because he may or may not ask you a question completely unrelated to Riemann Sums specifically, but still related to your understanding of how to calculate them. Also, watch out for the first few weeks after winter break. You’re going to be exhausted from doing college applications, and implicit differentiation, which you really are just not going to be very good at, will sneak up behind you and confuse your brain. It’s kind of a new thing, and puts together algebraic and differential calculus concepts in a challenging way. Just make sure that when you return you continue to focus; you do a pretty good job of this, but you could save yourself a bit of grief if you really let yourself relax a bit over break and keep your mind from imploding. Lastly, try to make as many connections as possible to the material and the real world. I know you, self—you’re very curious about how math can be applied to everyday things. Ask more questions about how the things we learn can be useful, because Mr. Shah wouldn’t be teaching them if they didn’t have some merit. For example, you’re going to really enjoy the can optimization project, because you get to prove that lima bean companies are honest people and that Coca-Cola is trying to rip everyone off (okay, not exactly, but pretty much). The best thing you can do to avoid any senioritis is to keep your interest in the material in this way. *** Enjoy this year because it’s one of the best ever. Calculus is totally overrated with how hard it is. Mr. Shah is a genius and a wonderful teacher. He’ll remember every number answer to questions even weeks later. Don’t be afraid to ask Mr. Shah questions because he’s extremely good at explaining the answer. The grading system is great so take advantage of it. Work hard to prepare for your Calc I course in college. Try to understand logs as well as possible because it’s something that you’ve struggled with in the past. Make sure to always respond to claps from the pre-calculus class with a louder round of applause. Help out your partner when they need help and always be open to sharing your knowledge on certain skills. Remember to tell Mr. Shah to take the attendance so you can earn candy. Have patience when in class someone doesn’t understand something or when you are doing an exercise that comes easy to you but not to others in the class. Often you’ll do something tedious and annoying for a couple of days but Mr. Shah has a plan for it in the end. Hone in on your algebra skills because that may be the only reason you don’t get fives *on the assessments+. Finally when you have the chance to take a regular Calc/AP Stats vs. a version of AP Calc, choose regular calc/AP Stats every single time. It will be the best decision of your senior year. *** Don’t depend on reassessments during the year. They take a lot of your time on Fridays. Actually prepare for the assessments instead of having the mentality that you can take it over because sometimes the reassessments can be harder :p but at the same time if you have to, definitely take advantage of the fact that we have it! Don’t be absent a lot; it sucks to make up classes (especially the classes where we are doing calculator programs)

Definitely do the homework, don’t be lazy – it’s all simple, and it helps with the tests! Pay attention in class, and take a lot of notes because sometimes things can go over your head and you don’t even notice you should be paying attention. *** Okay first of all, Dance Concert is going to be epic. But Calculus. It’s a good class, trust me. You’re going to learn about derivatives, integrals, limits, optimization, you name it. Mr. Shah has this weird system where you can reassess any topic that you didn’t fully grasp the first time, but don’t abuse it! Trust me; you’re way better off doing it right the first time. From my experience, you learn it better if you study it without knowing what kind of question he will probably ask you. Also, you have to send these tedious emails and I’ve pretty much spent every extended break on Friday reassessing (we don’t have to go chorus on Fridays anymore! Or maybe I shouldn’t have told you that… I am so about to ruin this spacetime continuum…). And also, Mr. Shah doesn’t grade homework (yea, it’s a really weird system) but do it anyway. I guess it helps on the tests, since he chooses a lot of the same questions. Alright the sky is turning green and my hand is fading away so I probably need to stop telling you about the future, so good luck! *** Some things that I think would be important to grasp would be to make sure that you take full advantage of reassessments. Do not use the reassessments as a crutch and use them late in the game. Make sure you use them as you need them and do not let them build up and you can only reassess three skills at once. Also make sure that you take advantage of the Algebra boot camps. I definitely had a problem with algebra since last year in Pre-Calculus and the algebra boot camps helped a great deal. Be sure to take notes thoroughly and pay attention in class because you could miss something. *…+ Another source that helped a lot was using the computer website, Wolfram Alpha. It has helped a great deal when I didn’t have my calculator or I was having a hard time seeing how a graph might look pertaining to a certain problem. This year I have learned to teach myself a lot and not just thinking that the answer is going to come forth easily. It’s okay to have questions and not be sure about something. As long as you know the basic concepts, you would be able to use them to come up with explanations as to how to solve the problem. Most of the time you knew the information without even knowing it. You just had to use your brain. BE ON TIME! I know that might sound kind of crazy, but if you miss even 5 minutes of class, you could miss very important information that you could need for a future assessment. As a second semester senior you might want to slack off a bit but DON’T!! If you slack off then your grades will go down and you will not get into college!!! Lol! Jk! You will get into college… [College] to be exact. But just stay focused and learn to love math because it’s really cool!! Yay!!   <3 <3 *** I hope you enjoy calculus next year, but before you being I feel that I should forewarn you about a few things, so that you are as successful as you possibly can be. First, the structure of the class may strike you as being quite odd, but don’t fret, because if you follow my few specific instructions I guarantee that you will be successful. Mr. Shah will warn you at the beginning of the year not to fall into the ‘ominous hole.’ But what, may you ask, is this hole Mr. Shah finds so harrowing; well let me explain. The system is worked out so that you can fully understand every concept taught in the class and if you are unprepared or don’t comprehend a certain skill at the time of the assessment you have the ability to re-learn. Basically, DO NOT not study for an assessment because of the “promise” of the reassessment. Only use the reassessments if you really don’t understand. Other things to remember: 1. Don’t ever call home enjoyment homework EVER and I repeat EVER 2. Don’t divide by zero

3. Do your home enjoyment even though it doesn’t count because it does help you and usually it is necessary to do such things if you want to do well on the assessments 4. The same thing goes for class participation… don’t zone out because you think it doesn’t count… it does count for you 5. DON’T BE LATE; punctuality is key *** Hey, you should be ORGANIZED! Mr. Shah has all these super cool skill sheets for you to use also. You should put all those worksheets in a BINDER in the order you get them in! And reassessments are your friend! You can’t ONLY rely on them but they’re great support for those rough days when you’re real sleepy and can’t even hold a pencil! Oh and everything is cumulative so make sure you get it when you’re taught it the first time. *** If you don’t do your homework you will fall behind in class. So even though you won’t be getting a homework grade, make sure you do it anyways, it’s helpful!! If you need to do a re-take test, make sure you send Mr. Shah an email by Tuesday of that week, don’t slack off and have to settle for/with your lower skill scores. Pay attention in class and take careful notes, in Mr. Shah’s class you tend to be learning something and not realize that you have been until after the fact. Have fun, and enjoy the time you’ve got. *** Calculus will be fun if you let it be fun. I know you really don’t want to take this class, but just shut up and stop whining about it. You’re going to be fine, and it’s not a matter of principle. Mr. Shah will get you through the year and make the class fun. Also, speaking of Mr. Shah, he’s a great teacher. If you let him, he’ll be really helpful to you, so let him. I did and I appreciate it. Don’t screw up my future by screwing up your past. Time can be rewritten, but in this instance, it shouldn’t be. Don’t wait until the last day to reassess. Reassess all the time. Reassesse very chance you get, because reassessing is good. It’s not a chore, it’s a blessing. Also, do the home enjoyment. It will help you understand things better. Oh, ask for help, you moron. There will be topics that you don’t understand at first, so don’t just try to make yourself understand it on your own. There will be temptation to put off calculus home enjoyment until after you’ve done everything else because Mr. Shah doesn’t officially check it, and it doesn’t go towards your grade. I don’t care – get it done. It matters, and the later you put it off the worse you’ll do on it. Home enjoyment is helpful, so don’t waste it. I’m not saying you have to love it or anything, but don’t put it off until too late. (I’d tell you that you’re never allowed to not do your home enjoyment, but I know you, because you are me, and I know that we always do our work. Just don’t break that pattern.) Don’t get attached to *student+, because he turns traitor halfway through the year and switches to the B band class. Also don’t freak out that you’re getting an interim first quarter. Mr. Shah always gives out interims. So don’t panic, okay? I know it’s scary that your first interim ever comes in the middle of the college search process, but it’s not a big deal. Just. Breathe. If you ‘re doing well, great. If not, you can reassess. (Speaking of the college search process, once again, breathe. It’s going to work out. You’ll get in, and you’re going to be happy.)

Overall, I advise you to enjoy your time in Calculus. It’s your last Packer math class, and you’ve got a really good teacher this year. It’s going to be hard sometimes, and it’s always going to make you think, but that’s a good thing. Don’t groan about it. I hope you have fun! Don’t do anything stupid, or yo’ull mess up my (our) future, which, as of right now, is pretty nice. *** Do your homework!!! I know Mr. Shah doesn’t technically grade it, but it will seriously help you with preparation for assessments. Also, on the topic of assessments, take them all seriously. Don’t let re-assessments be used as a crutch, prepare like you regularly would for the first one. It gets really overwhelming and time consuming to re-assess often, even though it is a nice option. Bring your calculator to class every day. Getting called out by Mr. Shah in front of everyone for not having it is never fun. A couple other quick important notes: Pay really close attention to learning derivatives, because literally everything else from that point builds off of that. Keep your binder neat. It’s easy for you to start getting messy around halfway through the year, but try really hard to keep all your assessments and homework and class notes in a neat orderly fashion. It will honestly help you in the long run.