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Saturday, March 3, 2012

This Instructor's Guide is SO GOOD

I just want to draw your attention to, should you happen to be teaching calculus using Calculus: Early Transcendentals (Stewart's Calculus Series), the existence of the Instructor's Guide. This text is different from the others I have used, in that the Instructor's Edition of the textbook is not that much different from the Student Edition. They are roughly the same size, and you would have to make a close comparison to find any differences. Most other textbooks I've seen, the Teacher's Edition is a crazy behemoth of a thing with marginal notes of highly variable usefulness that take up 3/4 of the page.

So ANYWAY, with the Stewart book, I got this whole other huge 3-ring binder that I barely glanced at all year until maybe four weeks ago when I started idly wondering what was in there. And holy crap, you guys, it is really full of some amazing stuff. It does have suggestions for how to organize and emphasize lectures, and questions to ask, which is nice. But most sections have two or three handouts called "Group Work" or "Find the Error in Reasoning" or something like it - and these are just very, very well done. They are thoughtfully-structured, with good questions and writing components. Some are simple and straightforward, but they're still nicely organized and typeset with pretty graphs and nice, realistically big spaces to write. So now when I'm tempted to sit and write an investigation or problem set or activity for Calculus, I check the binder first.

For example, today we worked through Group Work 1 for Section 5.2, "The Area Function." Students found expressions for areas under a constant function
Given f(t) = 4, find  

and another linear function f(t) = 2t + 2, find  , and then the same function again but starting at -1 instead of 0. They do all this just by finding areas geometrically. Then they look at the first derivatives of those, and notice hey wait a minute, the first derivative of the area function is just the original function. (Then they go, and this is a direct quote, "That's so stupid!" (The area is just the antiderivative?! Why didn't you just tell us this before instead of making us do all those limits!) and then I get sad because this is so neat and beautiful and I jump around and get very enthusiastic about how they were just a minute ago finding areas by ADDING UP TRIANGLES FOR CRYING OUT LOUD, but now they have the power to find the area under ANY CRAZY CURVY FUNCTION THEY FEEL LIKE, and sometimes it's really pretty easy, way easier than summing infinite rectangles.)

So, yeah. The binder. Check the binder.


  1. I'll have to check the binder again and see if they have any good Calc II stuff.

    My problem with area projects is my students already know that that symbol means anti-derivative (even though it doesn't, for definite integrals), so they can't even fathom why it wouldn't turn out to be anti-derivative. I use a project that defines an area function, F(x),... and saves the symbol for later.

  2. We use the Stewart textbook for Precalculus, and it also has an awesome binder. This is my first year to teach Precalculus and I made it through the entire 1st Quarter of the year without knowing this binder existed. I guess the previous teachers never used it and didn't even bother to pass it on - I found it in a random drawer in the math cubicles. I was SO annoyed that I made it through 1/4th the year without it!

    IT IS SO GREAT. I've used about 2-3 of the "Find the error" activities from the 1st chapter (review) with my Algebra 2 class throughout the year, and several of the Groupwork activities with my Precalc students (or used the Groupwork as inspiration for my own activity.)

    Lovelovelove. Also, Stewart appears to have a sense of humor. Does the "Find the error" feature the appearance of a strange lollipop eating kid?

  3. No, but it does feature a curmudgeonly old man hermit-like character. Who is hilarious.

  4. I think Stewart's book is overall the best calculus textbook for introductory calculus. It's very well organized and presented in a logical sequence, and there are lots of practice problems. We're using Pearson in my calculus class but I constantly find myself going to a copy of Stewart that I got from the library when I'm preparing lessons.

  5. I'm using Stewart for the first time this year. I work at a very small school, so we mostly just order books from Amazon or Ebay, so I don't have a copy of the binder that you are referring to. It sounds wonderful! Do you have any sense of how I could find one? Thanks!

  6. I also use Stewarts but since we're a small school we just order them from Amazon or EBay. How would I go about getting a copy of the magical binder that you speak of? Thanks, Jasmine

  7. I am not sure, Jasmine. I don't think they sell them on Amazon. I would contact the publisher.

  8. Just so we're clear, our man Stewart didn't write that binder. He wrote the book (about which I have complained loudly and frequently). Doug Shaw wrote the binder.

  9. Hi Folks:

    Stewart's textbook also has an accompanying CD that has superb videos with animation and an additional wealth of eFiles that you may find very useful. I used the videos a lot when I taught AP Calculus a few years back. Check the CD out.

    If area activities bore your students, get them moving and use motion analyses to get them to appreciate the relationships between acceleration & change in velocity or velocity & change in position (displacement).

    Thank you and take great care! :-)

  10. Was was going to say what @rachel said - I absolutely LOVE the Stewart Precalculus binder in addition to the Calculus teacher's guide. I got them from a colleague who was purging his office and was actually going to recycle them.

    And like @Christopher, I am in awe of Stewart's $23M house, which I think of as, The House That Calculus Built.

    - Elizabeth (aka @cheesemonkeysf)


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