Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Planning Calc I, Continued

I've changed the Google doc for calculus planning to be editable by anyone without permission, and made another one for my personal copy. If you'd like to play with it, please do.

A few people suggested resources including John Golden, who introduced me to his colleague, Matt Boelkins. Matt is putting together a free calculus text currently titled Active Calculus. Chapter One is online (pdf link at bottom of page), and the rest of Calc I is available by emailing him. His text does what I want to do, weaving the limits work into the derivatives, as needed. I plan to have my students use at least some of his work. Thank you, Matt! (I've listed about 8 free or inexpensive texts in the google doc, toward the bottom.)

I went through all my calculus bookmarks and added them to the google doc. I've also included many of the links in Sam's Virtual Filing Cabinet. (What a fabulous resource! Thanks, Sam!)

Course Organization
My course outline was broken into 9 units at first, which seemed like too many. Active Calculus (AC) has 4 chapters, and I liked how the ideas are organized. So I streamlined my units, partly reflecting AC's organization. Now I have 5:
  1. Slopes, Rates of Changes, Tangents (Understanding the Derivative in AC), in which we'll consider limits in an informal way.
  2. Exploring the Derivative (Computing Derivatives in AC), which includes power rule, product and quotient rule, etc. I'm saving much of the limit study for the 2nd unit, so the first focuses on the more important big idea. AC has limits in chapter 1.
  3. Exploring the World with Derivatives (Using Derivatives in AC). I want to weave the 'derivative rules' and use of derivatives together some, so will veer from AC's cleanly defined chapters.
  4. Area & Anti-derivatives (The Definite Integral in AC). I don't want my language to give away the deep connection of the fundamental theorem. I want the students to uncover that as much as possible.
  5. Volume, which I love as a grand finale.

Students need to get stronger with their algebra skills. Sam has some great algebra bootcamp ideas. For my college students, I'll move some of it from classtime to homework, and will put much of it in 'problem sets', I think. I'm hoping that challenging problems will get them to think deeper about things they've learned superficially before.

First Unit, Approaching the Derivative
This is a rough draft, mostly listing activities. I've included a practice test below, which gives a clearer idea of the topics.

I'm not exactly sure how things will play out, since this is so different from how I've done it before. I still need to find sources of good homework problems. I'll be going over the first chapter in Active Calculus over the next week to see what to use from that.

I'm thinking the test will have 4 sections. (If students need to re-take, they can do that by section, in my office.)

I make a Unit Sheet for the students for each unit, giving a tentative schedule, homework, and practice test. Our classes begin on August 20, so my unit sheet will be complete by then. Let me know if you'd like a copy. I'm going to make a shared dropbox folder for all my course handouts. I'll post again when that's set up.

Awaiting your ideas, advice, and questions...


  1. Sue-
    I just got done teaching calculus for the first time at a community college this summer. It was a whirlwind, but I feel like I learned a lot. I'm excited to follow your planning process! I know I want to do many things differently the next time I teach it, too.

  2. Thanks for your comment.

    I just subscribed to your blog, and I saw that you answered my questions there. (What went well and what would you change?)


Math Blog Directory