Math Department 2.0


Photo courtesy of Foster Cowan.

A BC Calculus student working hard on his homework.

Foster Cowan, Thomas Rice, and Keegan Brooks

Back to the Course Catalog here.


The plainly-named calculus is a class mostly populated by upperclassmen who have already taken precalculus. It is the least rigorous of the three calculus classes offered at Chamblee, the other two being AP Calculus AB and AP Calculus BC, but still provides a step up from precalculus and other non-calculus classes.

For this reason, calculus can be a good option both for seniors not looking for the fast pace and high workload of an AP class and for juniors looking to take AP Calculus BC their senior year without the need to take an extra AP, as the AP Calculus BC exam covers the AP Calculus AB material.

Calculus is taught by Irvin Wardlow, and while the workload may be less than his other calculus class, AP Calculus BC, students still have to work in and outside of school to be successful.

“Before signing up for this course, I wish I would have known that you really get out of it what you put into it. Prior to this class, I haven’t really needed to study outside of class for a math course […] but with calculus, to really understand an entire concept it takes a little bit of extra practice,” said Isabella Perez (‘22). “I would recommend, especially students that don’t consider themselves to be more analytically minded and have a stronger foundation in humanities, to really take advantage of pre-calculus. I took pre-calculus online my junior year, so I came into this class a little bit behind […], and it wasn’t until the start of the second semester that I felt more caught up and confident in my understanding of the material.”

Wardlow allows full credit on late assignments, but frequent homework checks necessitate at-home studying.

“In terms of actual graded homework the only kind is Khan Academy, but we have homework checks every couple of days, so if you don’t really do anything at home, you’re not going to do well on homework checks,” said Milo Sandfort (‘22).

Calculus students typically have a lot of free rein during class and much of the class is self-taught, though Wardlow is available should students need help.

“I think Mr. Wardlow understands that part of preparing us for college is ‘loosening the reins’ and letting us control how much effort we put into learning the material,” said Perez. “But I think there’s definitely space for students to voice concerns they may have about work or questions they may have.”

For students who may change their mind on wanting to take an AP exam, calculus students can opt to take the AP Calculus AB exam at the end of the year.

In terms of assessments in the class itself, students take unit tests and quizzes in addition to the aforementioned homework checks, which Wardlow allows students to make corrections on to recover some of the points they had taken off.

“We have quizzes, maybe one every two weeks, but not like a high amount, and no projects,” said Sandfort.
Calculus, ultimately, is good for students looking for a moderate challenge in math but are still willing to work to get a good grade.

“I would recommend it over AP Calculus,” said Sandfort. “But I don’t know if I would necessarily recommend to take it just for fun as an extra course.”

AP Calculus AB

AP Calculus AB is a college-level course covering aspects of differential and integral calculus. The class is currently taught by Mallory Clark, having been taught by other teachers in the past.

The course is designed to be a first-semester college calculus course. According to the College Board’s overview of the course, the class involves learning the skills of “determining expressions and values using mathematical procedures and rules, […] connecting representations, […] justifying reasoning and solutions, [and] using correct notation, language, and mathematical conventions to communicate results or solutions.”

Students describe the class as primarily involving derivatives and making graphs. Other topics included in the class are limits and continuity, differential, integration, differential equations, and applications of integration.

“We learned derivatives and how to make graphs given the limits and the mins and maxes,” said Savannah Russell (‘23).

The class involves daily homework assignments, which students describe as taking varying amounts of time. Clark wants students to understand they need to be committed to the class and it’s not the type of class that is an “easy A.”

“I think that the homework is hard, you know it takes a long time. You really have to be committed and even if you’re not that great at math, […] It’s something you can handle. I want to make it accessible,” said Clark. “You still need to have a good sense of precalc and you have to have a good sense of just kind of wanting to learn. Because I feel like a lot of times kids just come in and they’re used to getting A’s in all their math classes and they haven’t really had to work that hard to do that.”

Clark describes the class as a combination of all of a student’s previous math classes.

“I always think of calculus as where all your classes collide. So there’s a lot of geometry, a lot of advanced algebra, a lot of precalc. […] It’s like the last three years of your life are now being tested in one class, said Clark.

Students interviewed say most of class time is dedicated to taking notes, with quizzes and tests occurring intermittently.

Russell recommends taking AP Calculus AB “if you’re really good at math. But if you want to take AB and BC then I would recommend it. But if you just want one AP calculus then I would recommend BC.”

The other AP Calculus class is AP Calculus BC, which is taught by Irvin Wardlow. Samrah Khan (‘22) describes AP Calculus BC as “basically a recap of AP Calculus AB, with more specifics, and it extends one or two units longer.”

AP Calculus BC

AP Calculus BC, sometimes referred to as Calc BC or just BC, is the highest-level math course available at Chamblee. Usually taken after precalculus or AP Calculus AB, students move quickly through the same curriculum as AP Calculus AB, but continue into more content.

“BC is basically a recap of AP Calculus AB, with more specifics, and it extends one or two units longer,” said Samrah Khan (‘22). “It includes differentiation, limits, integration, and trigonometry. It includes simple direct problems, as well as word problems where you have to approach it using different formulas and methods.”

At Chamblee, all BC classes are taught by Irvin Wardlow, who uses a flipped-classroom style of teaching, where students learn topics at home and work during class time.

“I think it’s important to know that this class is really independent learning, and it is extremely helpful to have already taken AP Calculus AB,” said Khan. “If you are going into BC without AB, just know that you are going to be unfamiliar with a lot of concepts and are probably going to have to study/practice at home.”

One of the biggest parts of BC is the frequent homework checks, which, along with tests and quizzes, take up a large portion of students’ grades.

“You get a homework check almost every day, and it’s only two to four small questions about the main concepts of what you did from the practice the day before in class,” said Khan. “You probably have a quiz once every two weeks or every half unit, and then you have a test at the end of every unit which is after about three weeks, I’d say.”
Apart from the homework checks, smaller grades come from assigned Khan Academy work, as homework and classwork isn’t graded.

“There’s not a lot of actual work you have to turn in on a deadline, and the classwork isn’t graded, but I still recommend you do it,” said Scruggs. “Mr. Wardlow is pretty generous with late grades on stuff like the Khan Academy work, and as long as you clearly make an effort to get it done, you should be fine.”
Class time is divided similarly almost every day.

“[Wardlow] does a warmup every day, then passes out a homework check about the worksheet you did the day before, and then you do a worksheet about the next concept,” said Khan.

Students are left to their own devices for most of the period.
“There’s not really any strict rules that any other class wouldn’t have. You can pretty much do whatever you want during class after the quiz, but it’s better to work on the classwork,” said Eli Scruggs (‘22).

An advantage of the class is the ability for students to lean on both Wardlow and other students for help with their work.

“Mr. Wardlow is eager to answer questions and wants to make sure you really learn the material. He’s never going to say no if you ask for help. He’ll even give you hints on the quizzes if you ask nicely,” said Scruggs. “Most people are helpful as you ask. It’s an AP course, everybody knows it’s hard and is in the same place as you. Most people are willing to work together and help each other out.”

One major note for prospective AP Calculus AB students is the pace at which the course goes by.

“I think AB calc prepared me very well, but this class moves fast,” said Scruggs. “Do not take this class if you can’t keep up with it.”

Advanced Math Decision Making

Advanced Math Decision Making is a course made to help students understand practical uses of mathematics and is mostly populated by seniors not interested in calculus courses.

“AMDM is a class that gives students the skills to handle everyday math decisions. You learn skills such as statistical reasoning and this class is very beneficial for all students,” said Joanna Louis-Ugbo (‘22).

AMDM periods usually follow the same routine.

“You go into class everyday, Mr. Momon explains the new topic, and you work on DeltaMath. It’s nice to have a set routine like that,” said Louis-Ugbo.

In contrast to calculus classes, AMDM features a light workload with little to no homework.

“[There is] barely any homework. In class, work can be finished, so no homework needs to be done. At max there would be fifteen to twenty questions each day,” said Kamora Kemp (‘22).

In fact, sometimes students can have copious amounts of free time to themselves after completing work.

“The in-class workload isn’t hard and if I focus, I usually get my work done [in about 20 minutes] and then I have the rest of the period to myself,” said Louis-Ugbo. “The class is very independent. Mr. Momon is there to answer questions if you need help on the work but it’s not a very interactive class.”

Grades are also made up by quizzes and tests, which occur regularly.

“You will have regular quizzes and tests. I believe the quizzes are once a week with tests being around every two to two and half weeks,” said Louis-Ugbo.

Advanced Math Decision making is a good option for students looking for a math course absent of the rigor of some other options for seniors.

“I wish I had known how much free time I would have in the class,” said Louis-Ugbo. “If I had known, I would’ve signed up much earlier. I would definitely recommend this class if you want an easy senior year.”

AP Statistics

AP Statistics is a college-level course on statistics outside of the set math course pathways. The class has been taught by Lior Burko for the past two years, having been taught by other teachers in the past. The two periods of AP Stat at Chamblee are made up of juniors and seniors.

The class revolves around the ideas of collecting, analyzing, and making conclusions from data, with the College Board’s overview of the course stating “There are four themes evident in the content, skills, and assessment in the AP Statistics course: exploring data, sampling and experimentation, probability and simulation, and statistical inference.”

Burko teaches the class with the philosophy of having a “flipped classroom,” where students are assigned videos, textbook readings, and problems from the textbook at home, and then develop what they have learned in class through class projects.

“He does it as a flipped classroom where he basically has you learn the stuff before you apply it in class. So I would say just be prepared for that,” said Kayla Gurbaxani (‘23).

Students interviewed had varying opinions on the amount of homework assigned in the class, some saying there was a lot of homework and others saying that there is not as much.

“There is a lot of homework, but I would say that the class was very useful and applying it so it’s really nice. It’s not meaningless,” said Gurbaxani.

After learning about different concepts at home, students then work on applying the concepts by completing worksheets as a class. Most days in AP Stat involve this type of worksheet, with some days also being spent doing practice free-response questions from old AP exams.

“Most of [the] classwork is guided projects, so I give students a worksheet. I typically let them have some time working on it, usually uninterrupted,” said Burko. “Working [on] question one, question one or two, and then I discuss those in class. But usually, it’s individual group work, and less me telling students what the answer needs to be.”

One advantage of taking AP Statistics over one of the AP Calculus classes is that statistics can be applied to more fields than calculus can.

“AP Statistics is important for the majority of degree programs in college. […] More degree programs in college require statistics than those that require calculus. I’m not saying that AP Calculus is not an important thing, it is.” said Burko. “But AP Statistics is relevant to multiple programs, not just in the sciences or engineering. Many of the liberal arts or social sciences require statistics if you want to major in psychology, major in sociology, economics, [etc.] Calculus would be completely irrelevant to those.”

Students interviewed would generally recommend the class to other people, contingent on students having an interest in statistics.

“If you want to take it you have to be interested in stat. Otherwise, it’s hard to pay attention to,” said Shi.