Seniors Create Calculus Textbook

Posted: May 19, 2017

Forty seniors can now add “textbook author” to their resume. In lieu of a final exam, each student in Eric Chalfin’s Calculus classes wrote three textbook lessons that were then all combined into one textbook. The tome is titled “Calc-U-Lost: The definitive guide to the class you never thought you’d understand.”

Each student was assigned three different course objectives. For the first objective, students had to write a two-page textbook lesson with diagrams. For the second, they had to create at least two problems, with written solutions. And for the third, they had to record themselves solving a problem using a screencasting program. Then, Eric combines all the lessons into an ebook that the seniors can take with them to college next year.

“I learned that the best way to test whether you truly understand a mathematical concept is [to see] if you are able to teach it to someone else,” says Ellie Koroulakis ’17. “I really enjoyed acting as a textbook writer, compiling the more complex information and explaining it in a way that is not only easier to understand, but fun. Through creating this project, I learned how to effectively interpret textbook explanations for various topics and put them in my own words, a skill that I will definitely be using in college as I continue my studies in math.”

Eric was looking for a fun way to review all the concepts from the entire year. “I wanted a worthwhile project that would have use to them in the future,” he says. “I hope all of my students will study math in college, and I thought having a resource [they] created themselves would be a useful reference.”

In addition, students learned useful technology skills, including how to write equations on the computer, how to create mathematical diagrams in a computer program, and how to record themselves using screencasting software.

“Throughout this course, we learned that concepts in Calculus can be applied to solving many different real-life situations; these are not useless problems that we solve only to sharpen our skills in math,” says Ellie. “This enriched my understanding of related concepts in physics, chemistry, and biology as well. Calculus is everywhere!”

“As I leave Calculus, I've learned not only about integrals and the area problem, but how to think analytically, to apply my base knowledge to larger concepts, and to be able to see problems from all different angles,” says Tess Daniels ’17.

Sofia Yasin ’17 came up with the ebook's title, and Annie Ryan ’17 drew the cover art, which depicts Eric in front of Founders Hall.

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