In this paper we focus on an instructional sequence that aims at supporting students in their learning of the basic principles of rate of change and velocity. The conjectured process of teaching and learning is supposed to ensure that the mathematical and physical concepts will be rooted in students’ understanding of everyday-life situations. Students’ inventions are supported by carefully planned activities and tools that fit their reasoning. The central design heuristic of the instructional sequence is emergent modeling. We created an educational setting in three tenth grade classrooms to investigate students’ learning with this sequence. The design research is carried out in order to contribute to a local instruction theory on calculus. Classroom events and computer activities are video-taped, group work is audio-taped and student materials are collected. Qualitative analyses show that with the emergent modeling approach, the basic principles of calculus can be developed from students’ reasoning on motion, when they are supported by discrete graphs.
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