Math Mondays: A year in Calculus

This year marks my first year teaching Calculus.  I am excited!  As a student my love for math was reignited in Calculus teacher.  My teacher was a quiet man, Mr. G., who had classical music playing in between classes.  Thinking back on it now, it was a very clever way to help us all calm down and focus when we arrived.  He had high expectations, a consistent style and was generous in taking time to explain concepts.  Taking on Calculus this year, I can only aspire to teach it as well as he did.  This is the first of several blog posts on the joys, challenges and failures of the journey in my Calculus class. 

Day 1: Jump in feet first!  

Last post I talked about setting the tone.  Rather than going over the syllabus, playing getting to know each other, etc., we jumped in feet first with limits.   I distributed guided notes and we were off.

The goal for day one was that students gain a strong fundamental understanding of what a limit is.  Limits are not an end point, instead we focused on limits as approaching a value.  

  • Partner work: I gave students a graph and table to work with.  In partners students completed the table showing how the function approaches 1 but does not reach the value as the function approaches 2. 
  • Video: We watched a short video explaining limits.  I examined several, but thought this one from Bart Snapp was a valuable addition.  The students rolled their eyes a bit.  He may be a little corny, but they did seem to understand limits a little better.
  • Exploration:  I gave students more notes to work with related to finding limits from graphs and three cases where limits fail, except that we only got through 1 because I ran out of time.  For homework students practiced finding limits by creating tables.
Evaluation: it was a pretty good start.  I definitely need to work on my pacing.  Fortunately, I have left nearly 7 weeks before the AP exam for review.  I have time to catch up, but I will need to stay on track.  We will mix in get to know each other activities throughout the first month.  I know students need to understand that I see them as individuals.  But also, we are here to work, learn, explore and discover the joys of Calculus.  I can't wait for the next class.

Math Mondays is a bi-weekly blog post (2nd and 4th Monday of each month) sharing tips, ideas, resources, and products for teaching math.  If you have questions or think there is something I should include, you can leave me a message in the comments section below or at the store in the question and answer section.