After an intensive week-long institute, this is the only strategy I walked away with:
- Go to the College Board's AP Central website (free registration required) or look through a Pre-Calc textbook.
- Download Free-Response Questions from old Calculus AB and BC exams or pick out some open-ended questions from that textbook.
- Rewrite the questions to be appropriate for your subject.
If you're wondering how we managed to fill the week, our consultant (the most abhorrent word in education) gave us Pre-Calc and Calc questions and had us work them out in groups over and over again. He rarely even mentioned how we might adapt each of these problems--I think he just wanted us to practice our Calc, because that's all we did. Some of the other teachers I talked to were glad for the refresher, but I was so bored that when I finished Will Shortz's Simple Sudoku Volume 1, I started making my own sudoku puzzles to pass the time.
So we were shown only one actual teaching idea--not a complete lesson plan, nor something touching on multiple intelligences or Bloom's Taxonomy, nor any sort of guidance as to how to integrate this into an already overbooked curriculum. Is this all this guy does in his Pre-AP classroom--give his students enormously difficult problems and have them work in groups to solve them? My students' heads would explode (but probably not before mine)!
Do yourself a favor. If you are not required and don't need the professional development hours, skip this institute. Read the AP Central article above on adapting AP questions, borrow some Pre-Calculus and Calculus textbooks from your department, and then tell your district math coordinator that you just saved the district about $500 per teacher as you are now qualified to teach your colleagues at a reduced rate. You'll be Teacher of the Year!!
Caveat: I realize some people may have had a more productive and fulfilling experience at one of these institutes. Please leave a comment or email me and I'll be happy to share it here.