Welcome to Math for Teachers!

[picture of Niles]

NOTE: This is the syllabus for a PREVIOUS VERSION of the course. See nilesjohnson.net/teaching.html for current courses.

This is the course homepage and syllabus for Math 2138, Calculus and its history for Teachers. Here you will find our course calendar, current assignments, basic course information, and links to additional content of interest. This syllabus may need to be updated as the course progresses, and you will always find the current version at http://www.nilesjohnson.net/teaching/SP16/2138.html.

[children making

These children understand that many small things combine to make something new.

The topics of middle-grade math bring adventure and excitement! Together, Math 2137 and 2138 will hone your skills of mathematical explanation and explore the profound relationships between algebra and geometry.

Course Objectives

This course serves to introduce students to the key ideas of calculus and to important historical developments in the subject. A thorough introduction to functions as mappings is given, and the trigonometric functions are used throughout the course as a key example of functions not given by algebraic expressions.

The essential concepts of limit, derivative, integral, and the fundamental theorem are emphasized, together with core applications. An introduction to Taylor series, especially the Taylor expansions for sine and cosine, completes the class.


  • Functions
  • The derivative as rate of change
  • The derivative as slope of tangent line
  • Higher order derivatives
  • Sine and cosine
  • Basic differentiation techniques
  • Applications of the derivative
  • Riemann sums and area
  • Definite integrals as area
  • Indefinite integrals as antiderivatives
  • The fundamental theorem of calculus
  • Applications of integration
  • Taylor approximations
  • Infinite series

Learning Goals

  • Understand the concept of function as a mapping from domain to range.
  • Understand derivative as instantaneous rate of change and integral as total accumulation.
  • Understand the conceptual and computational significance of the fundamental theorem of calculus.
  • Fluency in basic computation of derivatives and integrals, including basic applications.
  • Familiarity with Taylor approximations and series.
  • Identify major historical developments in calculus, including contributions of significant figures and diverse cultures.

Section Information (#33687)

Our class meets at the following place and times following the OSU Registrar's academic calendar:

Hopewell 124
Mondays, Wednesdays 3:05—4:25

Course Calendar

An approximate outline, updated regularly, is available on our course calendar.

Online Resources

Our class notes are available on dropbox.com.

Check out mooculus.osu.edu for additional text, video, and exercises!

Homework Assignments

Chapter 1

All of these

Chapter 2

1, 3, 5, 7, 8, 10

Chapter 3

1, 3, 5, 7, 13

Chapter 4

All odd numbered problems

Chapter 5

1, 3, 5, 7

Chapter 6

1, 3, 5, 7, 9, 11

Chapter 7

1, 3, 5, 7, 9, 35, 41

Chapter 8

Choose 4 interesting odd-numbered problems

Chapter 9

Do odd numbered problems until you get bored

Chapter 10


Chapter 11

1, 6, 9, 13, 14, 15, 18, 19, 27

Chapter 12

1 -- 19

Chapter 13

1, 2, 3, 4, 14, 15

Chapter 14

As many as you want

Chapter 15

1, 2

Chapter 16

Do all of these

Chapter 17

1, 3, 5, 12, 13, 14, 15

Chapter 18

1, 3, 5, 7, 9, 11, 13

Chapter 19

1, 3, 5, 7

Chapter 20


Chapter 21

1, 5, 9, 13, 17, 21, 23, 25, 27, 29, 31, 33, 37, 39, 41, 43

Chapter 22

1, 3, 4, 5, 7

Chapter 23

3, 7, 11, 15, 19, 23

Chapter 24

1, 9, 11, 13, 15, 19

Chapter 25

1, 3, 7, 9, 11

Chapter 26

As many as you want

Chapter 27

All odd-numbered problems

Chapter 28

1, 3, 5, 7, 10

Chapter 29

1, 3, 7

[number elves 1-5]

Basic information


Niles Johnson
Office: Hopewell 189
Office Hours: Mondays and Wednesdays 14:15 – 15:30; Thursdays by appointment


Calculus by Frank Morgan. ISBN-13 978-1478356882.

(From the preface) Many students and faculty spend a lot of time wading through fat calculus books. This lean text covers single-variable calculus in 300 pages by

  1. getting right to the point, and stopping there,
  2. introducing some standard preliminary topics, such as trigonometry and limits, by using them in the calculus.

Exam Schedule

We will have two in-class midterms and a final exam. All students must take the exams at the scheduled times indicated here.

Midterms (2):

Wednesday, February 24; Wednesday, April 06


Scheduled by the registrar. See the campus schedule for exam times.


Active participation in class is an essential part of this course, and so attendance every day is required. Please let Niles know as soon as possible if an illness or other commitment will prevent you from attending. Homework is due at the beginning of each class, and late homework cannot be accepted unless prior arrangements have been made. See full late policy below.

Calculators and Mathematical Software

There are a variety of modern tools which support mathematics learning and application. We'll use several of them in this course, but no technology will be used on the quizzes or exams. In particular, calculators and cell phones will not be permitted. The only materials you'll need are writing instruments and your mind.


Your final grade will be based on written homework, written and oral in-class participation, quizzes, midterms, and a final exam. The precise breakdown is as follows:

  • In-class participation: 15%
  • Homework: 10%
  • Writing Assignments: 10%
  • Quizzes: 15%
  • Midterm exams: 15% each, for a total of 30%
  • Final exam: 20%


Thoughout this semester we will be focused on the how and why of basic mathematics. This means that you will be responsible both for knowing the content and for knowing how to explain the content. We will practice this in a variety of ways, and much of this practice will take place in class.

Teaching mathematics requires listening carefully to students, assessing their ideas, and responding in ways that make sense. Our class participation is designed to practice these essential skills. You will have opportunities on a daily basis to listen to your fellow classmates explain ideas and ask questions. You will be asked to respond with your ideas and with additional questions. Together we will see how and why mathematics works! Participating in this course includes all of the following:

  • Show interest in mathematical ideas.
  • Show interest in different ways of approaching mathematical ideas.
  • Listen carefully to different ways of solving a problem.
  • Carefully evaluate a proposed method of solution.
  • State whether you agree or (respectfully) disagree with a statement.
  • Show interest in learning with and from others.

Homework and Quizzes

Homework and Quizzes will be scored using the rubric below. Scores are based both on mathematical correctness and quality of explanations. Homework should be typed and presented as you would an essay. If necessary, you may draw diagrams by hand on separate pages. Quizzes will be hand-written during the first 10 or 15 minutes of class.

The homework is intended to give you time to develop your explanations and understanding of the content. You are encouraged to work with your classmates on this, but you must write your own explanations. Homework is designed to help you learn, and not as an assessment tool. Therefore grades for homework will be recorded on a complete/incomplete basis (scores of 3 and higher are complete). The numerical scores are given only for your information.

The weekly quizzes are opportunities to evaluate your current grasp of the material. They will be very short and based on previous homework problems or class activities. Quiz grades will be recored as scored.

Late Work Policy

If you miss class on the day homework is due, or forget to bring a printed copy of your homework, you may send me a copy by email the next day. I will accept up to three homeworks this way.

If you must miss class on the date of a quiz or exam, please do the following:

  • Contact me before the time of the assessment to let me know you will be away.
  • Provide a reason and objective documentation (e.g., a note from your health care provider).
  • Make up the assessment within two days of your return to campus, and before the next class if possible.
  • Miss no more than two assessments this way.

If you do each of the items above, you will have no penalty. For each item that you do not complete there will be a 10% reduction in your final score.

Exceptions may be made in the case of an emergency; please contact me as soon as you are able.

Grading Rubric

The descriptions on the rubric below are meant as a guide to help answer the question What constitutes a good explanation of mathematics? This is a subtle and challenging question—one that is worthy of considerable time and energy. As you write your explanations, consider the distinction between Procedure and Conceptual Meaning. A complete explanation addresses both of these, but the conceptual meaning is essential. Explanations that address procedure only are a disservice to students and do not support their future learning. They are also much less interesting!

Quizzes and exams will follow this scale; Niles will use these for comments on homework too, although homework grades are recorded on a complete/incomplete basis. Homework will be considered complete if the average score is R (3) or higher.

Excellent work that exceeds the assignment guidelines.
Good plus (10)
Correct procedure with an explanation that effectively addresses relevant definitions and concepts.
Good (9)
Correct procedure with nearly complete explanation.
Emerging/Good (8)
Well-developed but incomplete explanation.
Procedural errors are minor or nonexistant.
Emerging plus (7)
Emerging explanation that shows understanding.
Procedural errors are minor or nonexistant.
Emerging (6)
Explanation that mentions core definitions or conceptual meaning relevant to the question.
Possibly some non-minor procedural errors.
Relevant/Emerging (5)
Work that has merit but also has significant shortcomings in the procedure and/or explanation.
Relevant effort (3)
Work that shows relevant effort but is seriously flawed.
No credit (0)
No work submitted, or no relevant effort shown.
[number elves 6-0]

Resources related to mathematics education

Websites on math standards

Websites of elementary school texts from high performing countries

Other websites of interest

  • Project INTERMATH, which focuses on building teachers' mathematical content knowledge through mathematical investigations that are supported by technology.
  • Purplemath has lessons and practice problems for elementary mathematics.
  • Khan Academy has math videos for children and resources for parents or teachers.
  • Report by the National Council on Teacher Quality on mathematics in the U.S.: No Common Denominator. The report includes a great appendix on content that mathematics teachers must know, and ranks Beckmann’s textbook highest overall among elementary mathematics content textbooks.

GEC Information

This Mathematics course can be used, depending on your degree program, to satisfy the Quantitative and Logical Skills category of the General Education Requirement (GEC). The goals and learning objectives for this category are:


Courses in quantitative and logical skills develop logical reasoning, including the ability to identify valid arguments, use mathematical models and draw conclusions based on quantitative data.

Learning objectives:

Students comprehend mathematical concepts and methods adequate to construct valid arguments and understand inductive and deductive reasoning, scientific inference and general problem solving.

Support Services

All students are encouraged to take advantage of campus support services. These include tutoring, academic advising, counseling, and the math learning center! A complete list is available at http://newark.osu.edu/students/support-services/.

Accommodation Statement

If you need accommodations due to a disability, you must first register with the Office for Disability Services (ODS) at 226 Warner Center, ext. 441. After you receive your authorized accommodation from ODS, you should show me your access plan and discuss your needs with me. Ideally, we should meet within the first week of class.



Academic Misconduct Statement

It is the responsibility of the Committee on Academic Misconduct to investigate or establish procedures for the investigation of all reported cases of student academic misconduct. The term "academic misconduct" includes all forms of student academic misconduct wherever committed; illustrated by, but not limited to, cases of plagiarism and dishonest practices in connection with examinations. Instructors shall report all instances of alleged academic misconduct to the committee. For additional information, see the Code of Student Conduct:

show background grid hide background grid grid OFF

Creative Commons License

The pages of nilesjohnson.net are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Unported License.