Lesson Plan: Definition of the Derivative Mathematics

This lesson plan includes the objectives, prerequisites, and exclusions of the lesson teaching students how to calculate the derivative of a function using the formal definition of the derivative as a limit.


Students will be able to

  • understand that the derivative of a function at a point represents the slope of the tangent to the function at this point,
  • calculate the derivatives of polynomial functions using the definition of a derivative in terms of a limit,
  • calculate the derivatives of other algebraic functions, such as radical functions or rational functions with 1 as a numerator, using the definition of a derivative in terms of a limit,
  • identify the derivative notations (including prime and Leibniz’s notation).


Students should already be familiar with

  • evaluating functions,
  • finding the domain and range of functions,
  • graphing functions,
  • finding limits.


Students will not cover

  • finding the derivative using the power rule for derivatives.

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