OpenLab Assignment #1: Mathography

This assignment is due Wednesday evening, April 6th (midnight).

Assignment.  Choose ONE of the following two topics.  Write a reply to this post, responding to the topic (1-2 paragraphs).  Begin by telling us which topic you chose.  Be sure to include your name in the post (so I can give you credit).


  1. Was math ever your favorite subject? If so, when was it? What about math made it your favorite? If math has never been your favorite subject, what about it do you not like?
  2. Sometimes people can recognize a time when their opinion of math dramatically changed either for the better or the worse. If such a time happened for you or for a friend of yours, tell about it. If you did not experience such a thing, tell about your steady feelings about mathematics.

Extra Credit.  For extra credit, write a response to one of your classmates’ comments.  Do you feel the same?  Did you learn anything?  Do you have any advice?

Why are we doing this, anyway?  Having progressed this far in your school career, you are familiar with many of the tools for learning math:  studying, practicing by doing problems, asking questions when you need help, and so on.  I’d like to talk about two activities that may NOT seem related to learning math — but research shows that engaging in these activities can dramatically increase the amount that you learn, and change the way you learn it.  The first is writing — something not typically associated with mathematics.  When you express your ideas in words, it forces you to think them through very carefully, detail by detail.  A great way to check and see if you really understand something is to try to explain it to someone else, either out loud or in writing.  Example: if you know how to add fractions, try teaching it someone who doesn’t know how.  The second is called metacognition, or “thinking about thinking.”  This happens when you think about what was going on in your head while you were working on a problem or trying to learn a new idea.  What train of thought did you follow?  Where did you get stuck, and what did you do next?  What were you feeling at the time? and so on.  Combining writing and metacognition can be a tremendously powerful tool in identifying the ways we learn best and the ways we make mistakes, and learning to improve.  However, like any skill, it takes practice.  That’s why we’re getting started by writing a little about our past experiences with mathematics.

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48 Responses to OpenLab Assignment #1: Mathography

  1. Pingback: Welcome and Getting Started | 2012 Summer – MAT 1180 – Reitz

  2. Rokshana says:

    Topic 2
    Math was one of my favorite subject since I was a kid and it still is but not as much as before. Infact I wanted to do something related to math ever since elementary school. I used to love solving problems and love all the calculations and solving for “X”. I am not saying I am a genius and there was time when I did get 65 in exams. One of the reason I loved math because I simply enjoyed working with numbers.
    Once I started high school I realiezed math was getting harder and harder but that did not stop me from liking it so much. As our teachers introduced us to trigonometry I started to dislike math and I lost my confidence in myself. Even after that I worked very hard to keep my grades up. I started to dislike math more when I had to take pre-calculus in college and I did miserable in that class because I could not memorize all the formulas and understand the graphs, everything just overwhelmed me. I did so bad in that class that at the end I planned to drop that class. After that I did not take any math class for about two semesters.
    – Rokshana Parvin

    • Jonas Reitz says:

      Hi Rokshana,

      Welcome, and thanks for being my first-post-er! I see you managed to complete this assignment before the end of the first class – wow ;). Thanks for your post – I hope this class can be a fresh start for you in math.

      -Mr. Reitz

      • Tash J. says:

        Rokshana, I had dreams of being an Accountant. I liked Math more then any other subject. Numbers didn’t lie and they solved problems. But as I took the higher Maths, I admit that I was not ready. I realize that Math is a language onto itself. I did not take the time nor put forth the effort to advance. Today, I respect Math and welcome the challenge.

    • hiutungchung says:

      Same with Rokshana. I love solving those “X” problems. I think that is fun and exiting and I feel success when I found out the answer and got them correct. But sometime the problems are so confus 🙁

  3. Chimene says:

    I am extremely excited this time around to face one of my biggest fears, MATH!!
    Today’s class really changed my perception of math. My last class was MAT 1180, taken here at City Tech. The most frustrating thingabout this course was that there was not a way to gain additional points or extra credit, the entire class was based on 3 test of which I struggled with. I ended failing the class and getting an F which dropped my GPA to a 2.0. Ironically, I past my physics class with a B, a class in my opinion with more challenging physics math. I did not always fear math but found it frustrating to solve problems that take up an entire sheet of paper. I loved math when it was in pictures like pie charts, oranges and apples back in elementary school but oh how things have changed. Anyway, I am rambeling away now. Now, I enjoy the challenge of solving a problem, it is like putting together pieces of a puzzle. My last class went to fast, we learnded 4 to 5 different subjects per night and never worked on problems in class or together with other students. Learning should be a bit fun and productively challenging. I feel this course will be a better learning experience for me and I hope to gain a handle on my fear of MATH!!

    • sussynatalia says:

      I do feel the same frustration to solve math problems and having different equations that look the same but are solved with completely unique techniques that we have to remember in order to use them correctly. In addition to your comment, i am really optimistic to face my obstacle (biggest one) which is Math.

    • carolisa says:


      Always put your best effort and don’t be pessimistic because is better to be optimistic. Even thought math is a challenge, don’t give up! Never let math knock you down.

    • Natasha Jaikaran says:

      Chimene, I 100% agree with you. I enjoyed math to a much higher extent in middle school than I do now. It was a lot more simpler then, but as our education life goes on, things get harder. I am also excited to handle one of my fears too which is math. I know we can do this!

  4. Lewis Napolitano says:

    I believe it was when I was in Junior High School (middle school – whatever the correct term is) that I had my opinion of math drastically change by taking a remedial class on it. After SEVERAL attempts at learning the language of math, it suddenly made sense to me. Now up until this moment in time I considered math to be a demonic plot of my teachers to punish their students who were not their favorites (the chosen ones always seemed to do well in this subject), but when I had my “ah ha” moment, I realized these despised teachers of mine weren’t as evil as I had thought (but I am still, up to this day, confident that one of my classmates was sacrificed in order to appease the god of algebra (that was pretty corny, wasn’t it?))
    The important thing that I realized here was that it is all about repetition and that one needs to actually do all of the homework and studying in order to really do well in math. Realistically though, I am a very thick headed person which is why I am now taking this class for the second time.

    • Jonas Reitz says:

      Lewis, I can’t agree with your comment enough — regardless of how easy or hard math is for you, the key is repetition. Practice practice practice! (and also a willingness to ask questions, whenever you are confused by something). Put these together, and I think anyone can pass this class. Best of luck this semester,
      -Mr. Reitz

      • Tash J. says:

        lol. If you don’t do well this time around you may be next for the Math gods and goddesses.
        Math is unlike any subject in that understanding the concept and meaning of the numbers has to have significance to you.

  5. Chimene says:

    Rokshana – One thing I figured out that might be helpful with math and other classes is to not try to memorize things but actually learn them and by this I mean pick up the techniques, the theory and process behind everything so that when you look at a problem you can easlly solve it because you know the steps of how to solve it and not because you memorized a formula although that helps too. My problem with most schools now is that we are not thought how to think, learning should stimilate thought processes and should encourage and empower us to solve all of life’s problems including a math problem.

    • i agree with your advice to rokshana because i use to just memorize math to but when i came to college i tried studing math a little more because i didnt want to fail it and waste my money so math became a little less confusing when you practice instead of memorizing oh and asking question both during and after class helps a lot.

    • Julita Kropiwnicki says:

      I agree with you 100%. I believe that the first and most important step in being successful in math is to understand the problem, exercise that is, identify exactly which quantity the problem is asking you to find or solve for ( we need to make sure we read the whole problem). I also think that we should take as much time as we need to do all the homework and to get complete understanding of the material. Good study habits throughout the semester make it easier to study for tests. Good luck!!! Julita

      • Tash J. says:

        I agree that thinking and seeing the problem in terms of our own understanding is key to solving the problem. I believe creating one’s own problems to be solved with chapter concepts installs on the memory a new way of thinking in our daily lives. I used to say, what do I need to know this? If, I can find a reason or possible reason to learn something, the new thinking becomes a part of me and I evolve.

    • lsuarez0930 says:

      I totally agree with you. I feel if schools had better structured programs and techniques to prepare us for college level courses, maybe the experience wouldnt be so hard.

  6. Sharess Isaacs says:

    Sharess- Back in middle school math was my favorite subject. At first I would feel a bit intimidated by it, but once the teacher showed me how to work the problems out it became very easy for me. As I went on in life math was very helpful it helped me in my career of accounting and banking and it also assists me with my now teenage son who is learning algebra in high school. I always welcome the challenge of learning new math problems because once I learn how to solve them the more accomplished I feel. I wont say that I like all math now that I an older but I’m will to take on the challenge of learning and conquering it. I look forward to doing well in this class.

  7. topic 1
    math and I have never been friends. I dont think i have ever hated something so much. It take a lot of concentration for me to understand math but with the motivation of not wasting the millions of dollars we spend on a single class i have goten a little better at math. though i know math is used in everyday life its just sometimes hard to believe that some of the things we learn in math class could ever be useful. i mean some of my older friends in college dont even remember the stuff im learning now so it makes me feel like why do i need this? but non the less i will always give a 100% to whatever i do

  8. Kameela says:

    Math has never been my favorite subject, but I have realized that math is an extremely important tool for everyday life. For example; when I am cooking based on a recipe in a cook book, I use fractions to make sure the ingredients are precise when adding it to the dish. I also use simple math skills like addition and subtraction when I am shopping for groceries or calculating monthly bills.
    Simple math like addition, subtraction, multiplication and division is not difficult for me, it’s the ridiculous formulas I tend to have an issue with and the steps required for particular formulas. I always have a tendency to make a mistake on one step of an equation and that one mistake will ripple down to clearly the wrong solution, but I never catch my mistake it’s a bit frustrating however I’m willing to work on it.

    • Jonas Reitz says:

      Hi Kameela — I love the cooking example, and I find this is one of the places I actually use math in my “non-work life” also (we may see some recipe conversion examples later this semester, in fact). I definitely sympathize with the frustration that one mistake has a cascading effect through the rest of the problem — I do, however, give partial credit, and making a single mistake early in the problem will not make you lose all the points, even if the answer comes out wrong.
      -Mr. Reitz

  9. sussynatalia says:

    When i started first grade in my country (The Dominican Republic,) my teacher taught me to count with my fingers and other objects which was fun to learn. However, when i was in fifth grade, another math teacher forced me to solve the problems in my head which i never accomplished in the speed she expected me to answer. Ever since, Math has being a nightmare. I was reluctant to learn math to the point it became my biggest obstacle yet to overcome.
    As a transfer student to New York City College of Technology, i have taken math twice-first i failed in 2009 and second i dropped it in Spring 2012 because i was doing poorly. This semester is my last chance to pass this class and I am willing to work hard, dedicate time at home and school, practice everyday so i can overcome this fear that has hunted me ever since i remember.

    • isak says:

      I Understand, that math for some people is hard to understand, i got a friend like that. Should try your best and we have a great professor, so you be fine, if something you could ask other students to help you out.

      • Tash J. says:

        Well, this is your year and you can do it!!!
        Passing is going to require you to adapt new thinking patterns. What has been done is history. Now, is the time to open your mind and accept the power of Math. You have to prove to yourself and no one else that you can do anything you put your mind to.
        You have a great opportunity ahead of you…

        Now study like you have never study before…

        • carolisa says:

          I feel that we have similar experiences in common. I can tell you that math is not easy because it can become an obstacle for some people. However, math is not hard if you put your effort. Therefore, never give up because you failed several time. Always keep studying an still you learn the material. I can tell you that I always learn math in the hard way even thought i don’t like it.

    • Rosa C says:

      I always use my fingers to count. I also have problem with math but i try to focus in class and practice at home. Just try to be positive and practice a lot at home. If you put the effort I’m sure you going to pass this class.. Good luck!!

  10. olgarhina says:

    Topic 1

    Math was my favorite, i use too always be a really good student when it came to math, till i got to my last year in high school. It was frustrating because my grades went from a 95 to a 65. I did lack off a little and i didn’t work hard enough, but i also think it was that i never understood my teacher. Since then i have never been so good at math as before.

  11. Julita Kropiwnicki says:

    Topic 1.
    I finished High School back in my home country Poland. Math was always one of my favorite subjects because I liked doing problems with numbers and my Professor was a great teacher. In addition, my math teacher was always in the classroom early and ready to teach. She presented lessons in a clear and structured way. Also, I think math class is like a maze because they give you clues that are the number and the symbols, you have to fine the answer like the result. On the other hand, I’ve met a quite a number of people who do not like mathematics. For some people math is boring and mind numbing, it is just playing with numbers, its so trivial and useless, there is no room for creativity or spontaneity and it has to be correct.
    It so funny, but I still can still remember very well when I was a high school when we were introduced to algebra specifically, linear equations and I really loved it back then. Honestly, I always tried to do my best to get the right answers to all problems.
    In short, I think that just about any job that requires any math is going to require some algebra or percent etc. So, studying math is always advantage for all of us students. Today, I am getting Bachelor’s Degree in Hospitality and knowing basic math rules will help me on daily basis at work or anywhere else.

  12. isak says:

    Topic 1

    Math always been my favorite subject, it always been interesting ,solving and figuring it out, because i like to think, but my favorite math course is algebra and all others, but the most i hate is graphing and trigonometry i always have problem with it. No matter were you go math never changes, because i use to live in Russia, and when i came her, it also the same, the languages is not different. Also my major Accounting requires some math courses and this summer, will be my last math courses, so i will try to have fun with it.

  13. quazismom says:

    Topic 1

    Math was my favorite subject when I was in elementary school. I enjoyed adding, subtracting, multiplying and dividing. I enjoyed it probably because it was easy. I feel math problems with letters in them shouldn’t exist. I am sure they are beneficial to someone but to much thinking for me. My son, who is graduating in a couple of weeks, is very good at every math problem I’ve ever seen. Hopefully he will help me with my homework!

    • Jonas Reitz says:

      I’m glad to hear that you have a math support person at home — Having someone to turn to with your problems, whether it’s your son, or a friend, or a tutor, or someone from the class, or even me, is definitely one of the keys to success in math. Take advantage!
      -Mr. Reitz

  14. kevin says:

    I always struggles with math and every time i see a math problem it was like seeing another language.To me math is very confusing and i think thats why i don’t like it.The only way i could fully grasp a math problem is if you break it down for me.ever since elementary school i got bad grades in math.Math was the only thing that i hated about school.The thing that I hate about math is the word problems,trying to decipher and articulate is very frustrating and irritating.Hopefully after this summer session ends i can start to understand and articulate math,and maybe even start to enjoy it.

    • benjamin says:

      Hi Kevin,
      I share the same reasons as you about Math. I stop using the word hate when I am talking about Math. I look at Math now as something I have to get better at to get my college degree. I choose to take the course in the summer so that, I have more time to devote to it. Hopefully I can get an “A” grade in this course.

  15. Tash J. says:

    Topic 2: Math dramatically changed Me

    The shift occurred after a great laugh, and then I thought to myself, he is a genius. He was a young Mathematician that knew how to solve problems and create great works. He created experiments I dreamed of—what power he possessed. I wanted his smarts not his personality or looks. On the outside, he was a nerd that looked the part and lacked social skills. On the inside, he possessed the keys of the universe and created his imaginations into physical forms. I realized that Math was something I needed to learn—I desired to be a Mathematician.

    I laughed again as he said, “Did I, do that!” Watching Family Matters on television seemed like a family show filled with laughs and a young Mathematician who represented the classic nerd; however, I saw a young genius developing and evolving over time. After watching Steve Quincy Urkel, I realized that I could be greater and fulfill my dreams with the knowledge and know-how of Math.

    –Tash Joyner

  16. chimene says:

    These are all amazing stories and comments!

    Sue, I am with you girl, we have and will pass math this time around! We have an amazing teacher and wonderful resources to get the job done.

    Best of luck to all!

  17. marzone11 says:

    Math is my favorite subject. It has always been my favorite subject. Math is my favorite because it deals with facts; the answer is either true or false. there has never been a time in my life when, math wasn’t my strong point.

  18. carolisa says:

    Topic 2
    When I was in my 7th grade (Junior High School) I had one of the worst math teacher. His teaching skill was horrible that I couldn’t understand anything and I remember he ended up failing me. However, in 8th grade I had one of the best teacher for math. Her teaching skill was excellent, she made the class fun, gave motivation to every student, not only that but she also taught me so many things that in a way I started loving math. Ever since then, i loved math and always wanted to do something with math. Unfortunately, didn’t last so long because through out the period of time my belief of loving math changed when i got to trigonometry and precalculus in high school. I found out that trigonometry and precalculus was not easy as i thought back then and it was not my thing. Therefore, i started hating math so much because i remember i failed my trigonometry regent.

  19. I use to love math when I was younger ,and use to love to count and most of my classes we had fun to do basic math but as soon as they started added letter I stop loving it as much .

  20. hiutungchung says:

    Math is one of my favorite subject in High School. I like to solve those “X” problems and proofing two shape are simliar to each other or the same with each other(I forgot what the topic called). I think these questions are really fun to work on it. Everytime I saw those questions, I can finish quickly. I like to help my friends when they did not know how to solve the questions.

    However, English is not my first language. Sometime I will feel confus and getting lost when I read the “word” problems. Or sometime it is easy for me to mix up what the question actually ask about or misunderstanding the quesions. I lost confident when I saw word problems. I hope I can be easily read all the word problems in your class and do not misunderstand them! 🙂

  21. Natasha Jaikaran says:

    Topic 2
    Back in middle, this was the time when math was my favorite subject. I loved everything about math, from adding how many apples I had, to counting the number of bruises I had from playing around with my cousins. But after this phase and I entered high school, this is where my love for math diminished. I began to develop a hatred for math, basically when they decided to place numbers and letters together. In middle school I received high grades in math, but in high school it was the complete opposite. Ever since then math has been my least favorite subject but I think that this class will help me get over some of my frustrations with math.

  22. benjamin says:

    Math was never my favorite subject and still is not today. I will make a strong effort to pass the math courses as part of my major. Many people complain that math is a difficult subject. As for me, the problem I has with math is there are too many forever changing rules. Just as I think I get a rule learned, here comes another rule. I believe many of us are very skilled with our hands and others are with their brains, as math is a very brain skilled course. I can bake a good fruitcake and decorate it well with the little math skills I have. Most of us today are using calculators to compute math problems today, making it a bit easier to work out math problems. I still wish I was the best math wiz there is, but I guess that will be a long way to come.

  23. Kelly Ellis says:

    Topic 1
    1.Was math ever your favorite subject? If so, when was it? What about math made it your favorite? If math has never been your favorite subject, what about it do you not like?
    Yes I actually enjoyed math from young. Even though I liked english math had to be my favorite. Once I was introduced to chores and the counting of value with money it became a must that I needed to know how to get more money. Soon I was introduced to percentages and more which I applied to my everyday life especially when shopping, which I love, and making sure I wasn’t getting gipped right in front of my eyes. It was clear to me that it was important to apply this to my knowledge.

    I began to really love it when I was introduced to Algebra in high school. To me it is like another language that I enjoy because it is the only study I can do with my music on, and enjoy solving a problem. The reason why I also enjoy math is because I don’t have to read it in order to get how to do the problem. My friends and I use to compete with one another to make it fun or help others out who didn’t get the problems, but again only to a certain extent.


  24. lsuarez0930 says:

    Topic 1
    As a Junior High student I remember enjoying going to math class and doing my homework, but soon after maybe 10th grade started, it turned out to be a nightmare. some people blame the professors, time of day, everyday life; but for me I realized that it was more of a memory issue and perhaps lack of concentration. Most of the time I would feel really comfortable solving problems in class, but when it got down to hw or tests, I felt like I had never seen that stuff before. After HS, I tried to avoid math as much as I possibly could, but math is everywhere meaning requirements and stuff like that, so I gave it a try a few times. Though I managed to pass 2 out of 3 classes, I felt really frustrated because of my lousy grades.
    This is the last chance I had to take math since Im graduating, luckily Im very satisfied with my decision. I totally love the way Prof. Reitz breaks down things to different levels. Taking this class is finally helping me regain my confidence in math and strenghten previous basic skills.

  25. Rosa C says:

    Topic 1
    Math has never been my favorite subject, i always struggles with math. I do see the importance in having basic math skills. Math is part of our everyday lives. We simply cannot get around it. I don’t like solving fraction problems. I think fractions are difficult and confusing to solve. Also the language and rules used in math can be confusing. Because I’m not good in math i always spent more time studying and doing math homework than any other subject.

    • L Bourne says:

      Hey Rosa,
      Even though I love math, I’m not a fan of fractions either! It can be very confusing at times. And you’re absolutely right, the rules can be confusing also because it takes a lot to memorize every single math rule! But, I do have faith that you’d grow to love math, and one day everything just might come easy to you. I’m pretty sure there’s something about math you enjoy 🙂

  26. Darien says:

    Topic 2

    Math has never been my favorite subject. I have always had a problem with math. As I got older I learned to appreciate the concept of math. I realized that even though we do alot of the stuff in math class, we really don’t use it in everyday life. I know that math can be used in many different ways and even though I dont really like it, it can somehow be useful in the future.


  27. L Bourne says:

    Topic 1:

    Math has always been my favorite subject! Ever since I was a little girl. People have always found it shocking that I like math so much. Any time I put “math” and “favorite” in the same sentence, I’d get the same “wow, really?!” response, or “WHY?!”
    Even my parents aren’t too fond of math, I believe I’m the only one in my family that really enjoys it. I’m guessing the fact that math can be so challenging at times is the reason it’s my favorite subject, I love a challenge! But, there was a time in High School, that math and I wasn’t getting along. I figure it’s because I didn’t like my teacher much, nor the way she was teaching. She made the math I found fun, into something I couldn’t stand. But, other than that one semester, math and have been like best friends. I’ve always understood it, and even when I don’t, I never give up on it. I do believe that math comes in very handy in our everyday lives, especially for me, being that I am an Accounting major.
    So far, I am enjoying this math class because everything’s coming so easy to me! And, I look forward to the rest of it!

  28. I had posted this somewhere else so I am reposting it now

    Topic 2

    I chose topic two because I began to dislike Mathematics from high school, when I realized there were too many formulas to memorize and when to use it. I began college and I figured I wouldn’t need Mathematics as a Nurse, so I registered for the Nursing program. This was a huge misconception on my part, there is a course in the Nursing major called Health Mathematics and this involved dosage calculations formulas which includes calculating the amount of medicine to give the patient based on their body weight or mass which is dosage by weight, unit conversion in case the doctor prescribes medication and the medicine comes in a different unit than what the prescription prescribes you have to do the conversion, IV drop rate which is you have to be able to calculate the how much liquid to give over a period of time, and the drop factor which is how many drops per mL and of course this included converting hours to minutes and so on.
    You simply cannot add apples to oranges, which means that two quantities of different units may not be combined by addition. I decided to change my major after I read that many patients have died or suffer complications from health professionals giving them the wrong dosage in medication. I always wanted to be a Criminal Lawyer so I chose to study Legal Studies and I thought I didn’t need mathematics to be in the legal field. So not true we can never escape mathematics because it is a part of our everyday life, from calculating what time to wake up, to get to the subway, make it in time for class, watching our diet by calculating the calories, exercises even our cell phones, how long it lasts before we charge it. So I learnt to accept mathematics because of its usefulness. Mathematics is definitely needed in law, to be able to analyze data to persuade the jury, a legal professional who understands mathematics is more persuasive. I love to argue and to being able to prove my point that is when my feelings about mathematics began to change. In a traffic accidents It is needed in calculating the precise measurement of skid marks and distance from the point of impact to the final resting place of the vehicles, at a crime scene the measurements and assessments of the location of the evidence, the punishments for illegal substances is dependent on the amount of the substance in ones possession so you have to be able to differentiate between grams, kilos, ounces, pounds to be able to determine the seriousness of the crime, calculating the ballistics in crimes involving guns and the list is plenty. So I realized to say that I dislike mathematics is denying my existence in a way because biologically our bodies are all made up of 70% of water and water weighs 8.35lbs/gallon, The human genome is made up of 3 billion (3,000,000,000) bases of DNA, split into 23 chromosomes. The human body is made up of 100 trillion (100,000,000,000,000) cells. There are 1.8 meters of DNA in each of our cells. 
 if all the DNA in the 100 trillion cells of the human body was placed end to end it would reach to the sun and back over 600 times. 
The human DNA is 98 percent identical to chimpanzees. Without maths how would we be able to calculate all this. Knowledge is power.

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