East Sac High School precalculus students write, publish textbook

LAKE CITY – Students in Erin Goddard’s fourth period precalculus class at East Sac High School have written and published their own math textbook.

The textbook, 58 pages long, is titled “Precalculus By Students, For Students.”

“They were working on a unit that was dealing with higher degree polynomials and quadratics and rational functions,” Goddard said. “I was thinking it’s really a very big unit with a lot of different ideas coming into play, and it’s easy to not make the connections between one type of concept to the next. So what I had them do was make a book about those connections.”

The students wrote the book not only to help with their understanding, but to help others grasp the concepts, as well.

“As they were making this book they were keeping in mind … how can I teach other students along the way, as I overcome my misconceptions or misunderstandings, so other students understand it,” Goddard said.

This is the first time the project has been done at the school, Goddard said, and the students were eager to take on the challenge.

“They got a rubric from me about it,” she said. “And they were really excited about it because they didn’t really look over the rubric, I don’t think, and as they started authoring the book it became a little bit more in depth.”

Goddard’s two precalculus classes ended up competing to have their book published.

“Since I was the publisher, I ended up saying … whoever has the better book is going to be the one that gets published,” she said. “My period four is the one that ended up having the better book. It was a publishable piece in the end.”

The textbook, based on a single chapter from the students’ school textbook, could be expanded in the future.

“The idea would be that they could possibly expand onto this and create their own chapters further from the book,” Goddard said.

Goddard said the book is so well written that any student can use it to better understand calculus.

“I would feel comfortable giving it to them next year and having them help themselves through some of these skills that they’re going to have to tackle when they take on calculus,” she said.

According to Goddard, one of the values of math is the challenge.

“It’s the whole taking on a challenge, and being able to feel confident about being wrong sometimes, but also persevering,” she said. “My biggest thing is students are able to reason and have logic with the answers and solutions they’ve produced. I want them to be able to fight for their answer.”

The student-crafted textbook is available digitally for $10 at www.lulu.com/shop/product-21484432.html.