Developing a Calculus Course – Where I’m at so far…

As I reported back in January, I am working on developing the next generation of calculus at Pennfield High School.

To say this is overwhelming is a bit of an understatement. But the support has been strong from the math edublogosphere. To Sam Shah, Jim Fowler, Shawn Cornally, Justin Lanier, and Amber Caldwell I owe a great deal of thanks. I couldn’t be doing this without you.

Here’s what I’ve gotten done so far. At this point, I feel like I have enough material to keep my student busy for four to five weeks. Thanks most to Sam Shah, I have one unit done. Including handouts, formative assessments and summative assessments.

Also, after examining the incredible amount of resources that I have been freely given, I have decided on a couple of structures including student self-assessment sheets (a structure popular in standards-based-grading) and Friday Free-For-Alls, which give the students the opportunity to look at problems that are likely an extension of their geometry, algebra II, pre-calculus or stats work, but they may want to try to employ some of their newly-acquired calculus tools to find a better (faster, more efficient, more accurate, more realistic) solution.

The handouts and problems for unit 1 are posted under “The Calculus Course” to the right. I look forward to your constructive feedback.

Once again folks, thanks for everything and I look forward to continuing to work with all of you.


2 thoughts on “Developing a Calculus Course – Where I’m at so far…

  1. Yay for developing calculus stuff! I don’t know if I ever shared with you my entire set of handouts/assessments/etc. for calculus, but I have a folder with stuff I did not-last-year-but-the-year-before that I can share with you if you find that useful. Just shoot me an email at my username at gmail if you want it!

    I’m at a point where I’m really tired of how I’m doing calculus — and I think I need a kick in the pants to really overhaul it, but I don’t have any good ideas. I don’t know whether I need to make content changes (I’m thinking of almost entirely removing limits except to truly understanding holes), a change in approach (like switching to problem solving), or structural changes to the class (I’ve been doing SBG, but maybe I need to do something else).

    Personally I’m a bit nervous because next year because of the weird sectioning at my school, I have two GIANT classes (giant for me… I’m used to 12-15 in my calc classes) and I’m nervous about how I’m going to reach them — especially because many are mainly coming to calculus not loving math but feel pressured to take it for college.

    Okay I don’t know why I typed all that. What I meant to say is: “YAY revamp!”

  2. Well, I can understand the staleness. “Calculus” is such a broad collection of content that it could travel in such wide variety of directions. It’s easy to get caught up in second-guessing.

    That’s all coming from a person who’s planned almost two full units and taught none of them.

    I am trying to keep a couple thoughts in the front of my brain as I plan.

    1. Most of these kids have a very limited experience with limits, rational functions, and math technology besides a TI-84.

    2. A lot of these kids are taking calculus for reasons other than learning calculus (including, but not limited to padding the transcript, status, parents pressuring them, etc.)

    3. I hated calculus in HS and in college. So, what would a class have had to look like for the 13-years-ago me to find it worthwhile?

    My class sounds like it will be around 20-25 students. I hope to have a lot to share with you as the year progresses. I look forward to continuing to work alongside you.

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