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Materials for the Joint Math Meetings 2013 workshop

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Functions, Parameters and Fitting for Teaching Calculus

Date: Tuesday, January 8th, 2013; 9:00am - 4:00pm

Location: Marriott Marquis San Diego in the Carlsbad/Cardiff Rooms: South Tower --- Level 3


This page is our interface to next Tuesday's workshop. It's just intended to give you a bit of information before the workshop. We'll be publishing all the materials from the workshop online, but not until the workshop actually happens!

The resources are now available here.

Preparing for the Workshop

This will be a hands-on workshop. Some of the activities can be accomplished with paper and pencil, but others require a computer. We'll provide paper and pens, but we can't provide computers! So you will have to bring your own. We'll provide the software.


If at all possible, please bring a laptop with Wi-Fi to the workshop. Make sure that your laptop has a reasonably up-to-date web browser installed: Firefox, Safari, and/or Chrome will work well.

The Minimal Configuration

This is intended to be very simple ... you won't have to do any setup before the workshop.

We will be setting up a server at the workshop to provide a complete set of software, web pages, etc. You will not need to have an Internet connection --- you'll just connect to the wireless intranet that we will be setting up. Instructions will be given at the workshop.

Your Own Mathematics Software

Our objective for the workshop is to provide you with ideas and materials you can take away to use in your own calculus course. If you already use software in your course such as Mathematica, Maple, MATLAB, SAGE, etc, you're welcome to use that familiar software in the workshop.

Make sure that whatever software you use is configured so that you can run it without an Internet connection. (Alternatively, you can purchase Internet connectivity at the conference hotel.)

Also, to be able to use the data files we will provide, check your documentation to see how to read a CSV (Comma-Separated Values) file into your software.

R Software

We'll be using the R package in the examples that we present. Even if you don't use R yourself, we encourage you to try it out during the workshop; you don't need to have any previous experience with it.

We'll provide an R server through Wi-Fi, so you need do nothing to set up R on your computer.

If you're already an R user, and you want to use R on your own computer,

Make sure to do this while you still have Internet, before the workshop!


As you are on your way to the workshop, think about these two questions:

  1. Why are you teaching calculus? What are your own goals?
  2. Students by and large take calculus because they are required to or because they have been told to. What are the good reasons why students should take calculus? What should they be getting out of the course: what concepts, what skills?

Also, insofar as you have time, make a list of the basic functions that students should learn in calculus.

Agenda for the Workshop

Note: Danny Kaplan's daughter died January 6 as a result of injuries sustained in a traffic accident while traveling in Bolivia a few days earlier. For this reason, Danny will not be taking part in this workshop, and there will be some changes to the schedule and material covered. The schedule below is is therefore only a rough approximation to what will actually happen at the workshop.

9am --- Functions and Parameters

10:15-10:30 break

10:30am --- Functions and Data

12:00-1:15 Lunch at the Marina Kitchen in the Marriott. Lunch is complementary, thanks to the sponsors of the workshop.

1:15pm --- Motivating Functional Forms

2:15-2:30 break

2:30pm --- Functions in Two (and more) Variables

4:00 adjourn

Questions or Requests?

Send a note to Danny Kaplan


Support for this workshop has been provided by ...