After the AP: English and Calculus

When asked, What are you curious about? What do you want to learn these last few weeks?, students in Shane’s AP Calculus class responded with a barrage of answers:

  • How has calculus influenced the human condition?
  • How does math relate to issues of sustainability, leadership, philosophy and religion?
  • How does polling work?
  • Research the 538 blog or dy/dan blog and write a journal article.
  • Put together a set of graphing stories.
  • Study patterns of correlation on campus–Are certain policies working? Are certain rules working? How could you use math to help answer that question?

After the AP exam, our faculty and students capitalize on the opportunity to develop inquiry and build skills (see our Essential Skills and Habits) that help students prepare for college and achieve academic success.

Students in Caroline’s AP English class are working on a comparative analysis paper that includes one piece of literary fiction. Cassie Parker ’17 is examining the 1997 movie Starship Troopers and studying the similarities that exist between it and the current War on Terror. Tori Breen ’17 discusses The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison, comparing it to the recent TV phenomenon The Handmaid’s Tale. Caroline Polich ’17 is highlighting the uncanny parallels that exist between the para-surrealist painter Remedios Varo and novelist Gabriel Garcia Marquez in her final paper. Although artists from two different time periods, both display similar themes discussing the pettiness of wealth and the shallowness of beauty standards in their work.

Like a college seminar or class, students in Caroline’s AP English class are graded on the final product: their paper. They practice daily accountability coupled with a little freedom by checking in with Caroline before class each day, ready with a plan of what they intend to accomplish in the 70 minute block, and they check in with her at the end, detailing what they completed that day.

Senior Caroline states how this helped prepare her for the AP, “I felt ready. It wasn’t just about getting a 5 or writing the perfect essay. I learned how to manage my time and write a strong essay. These were the most important parts of class in preparing me for the exam.”

At White Mountain, learning extends beyond the classroom and academic content. A large focus of our curriculum is dedicated to student-driven inquiry and developing essential skills and habits that help students succeed and inspire them to become life-long learners. Learn more about student-driven inquiry and our Essential Skills and Habits here.


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