After my students completed the AP Calculus Exam during my first year of teaching AP Calculus, I continued covering material from our calculus text. However, the students struggled because the material was more difficult and, more realistically, their enthusiasm had diminished significantly after the demanding schedule that led up to the AP Exam. Therefore, I began looking for alternative mathematics that could be used to motivate students and maintain their interest after completing the AP Exam.
The next year I experimented with group projects involving calculus concepts that were more challenging than regular assignments along with individual activities that reflected a variety of mathematics. I was pleased with the student’s responses so I continued with variations of the same material for the following years. I was especially pleased with the students' reaction to enrichment activities that I had developed involving a storytelling perspective.
My latest effort to stimulate student interest in mathematics is my play, A Tale of Two Mathematicians, which requires students to compare and contrast different solutions to a variety of mathematical challenges. I have incorporated this play as part of the end of year activities in my AP Calculus class for six consecutive years and each year I am pleased with the positive responses that I receive from the students who participated in this play.
To make the play more relevant for the students, I create a list of the names for each class and place it under the “starring” section of the title page i. I also encourage each teacher to identify him/herself as director of this play. I normally hand out one scene per class period with the written responses to be completed and turned in the following day. Each teacher should decide how much time should be spent the next day on reviewing these responses. Note: The play cover was designed by Alex Korb, one of my AP Calculus students, who was not only a gifted mathematician, but also a gifted artist.
I would like to charge $10 for a downloadable copy, but I do not believe many teachers would pay that without having read through the play itself. I also realize that not many teachers would take a risk and use it in their classroom. Therefore, I entered a $1 downloadable fee.
If this play is used in your classroom, I would appreciate you and your students' reactions to it. This is by far my favorite activity that I use in my AP Calculus class.