Now for the fourth year in a row, the College Board has asked Solebury School's Math Department Head Britta Milks to be an AP Calculus Reader.
AP readers evaluate and score the free-response sections of the Advanced Placement exams. In early June, Britta will travel to Kansas City, MO, to join other high school teachers and college professors in this role.
The experience is an incredible professional development opportunity, offering teachers an in-depth understanding of the AP exam, which in turn, helps inform how they can better teach their own students.
"My teaching over the past few years, since I have been grading, has become more focused and polished," Britta said. "There are some topics that are not included on the exam that I enjoy teaching and I still teach them, but I have moved them to after the AP exam so that my focus up until May is on AP curriculum topics. I never want to lose the ability to branch out into calculus topics that I enjoy, but I want to ensure that my students are appropriately prepared for the topics they will see on the exam."
Grading AP exams has not only informed when Britta covers certain topics, but also what she emphasizes in her classroom. "I have put a greater emphasis on language, proper notation, and appropriate justification for responses. I introduce the proper way to craft responses from day one and help students build that skill throughout the curriculum when they encounter different topics. I want students to develop the skill of procedural fluency and sound reasoning in their responses," she said.
"I have found that students tend to be too wordy in their responses. They start with good notation and reasoning and then start to doubt themselves and keep explaining their answer. Usually when they do this, they end up saying something that is incorrect. On the AP exam, this can negate their entire answer. I work on this with my students and try to have them be succinct in their responses while hitting all of the key components of the question. It takes a great deal of practice to learn how to respond to questions appropriately."