For some reason today I was thinking about how the problems in our Meaningful Math Algebra books remind me of the tasks that students have to do on AP exams. I taught AP Calculus for several years and always felt like I had to cover the topics before I could have the students "tackle" the free response style questions. I came to realize that I really needed to practice those free response style questions throughout the year instead of waiting until the end. This reminds me of going to AMSTI training and feeling like I would have to teach the algebra topics before my students could do the activities in the IMP books. I often tell the other teachers at our school that I hope that they will see that our students leaving our algebra classes will be better students in general... More willing to tackle tough tasks... More practiced in explaining their reasoning.
I also think that these students will be much more prepared to tackle the multi-step, multi-concept AP questions they will encounter on AP exams. Many of the activities we are doing in our books combine several of the concepts that have been covered to date. Several of them require students to examine a word problem and then create a table and a graph. Then they are asked to answer questions about the situation AND write the rule or equation AND explain their reasoning. Because the majority of the assignments our algebra students are doing now require them to read a word problem and think through the problem. They have very few tasks where there are multiple problems of the same type that they just "run through." I can tell that many of my students have really grown in their confidence and willingness to tackle word problems. I know that I have never seen a textbook that I would favor as an AP teacher until now.