OpenLab Assignment #2: Advice From The Past

Last June I also taught this same course, MAT 1180, in summer school.  Just before the final exam, I gave my students the following assignment:

Imagine that you are invited to speak on the first day of MAT 1180, to give advice to entering students. ¬†Write a paragraph…describing what you would tell them.

To see the assignment and the students’ responses,¬†follow this link.

Your assignment, due next Thursday, June 20th, is to:

  1. Read through ALL the responses (there are 42 of them, but some are quite short).
  2. Write a reply to this post (1 paragraph) responding to all of the following:
    1. What advice seemed most relevant to you personally? Why? (you can copy/paste a short statement, or put it in your own words)
    2. Based on this advice, what changes can you make right now to help you with this course?

Extra Credit. For extra credit, write a response to one of your classmates’ comments.  Do you have any advice?  Be kind.

WeBWorK Update – a few notes

Heads up guys – If you have not entered an email address into WeBWorK, I CANNOT RESPOND to your questions sent from within the WeBWorK system – I get an email with your question, but have no way to reply. ¬†You can enter your email address by logging in to WeBWorK and selecting “Password/Email” from the menu on the left. ¬†Thanks!

Some things to be aware of:

1. ¬†Several students have run into trouble in Assignment #3 entering scientific notation, when the exponent is negative — there is an error indicating that parentheses are not allowed. ¬†If this happens to you, try entering your answer without parentheses, like this:


2.  In Assignment 4, we did not have a chance to cover problems number 4 and 5.  You are NOT responsible for these problems this week Рyou will be asked to complete them next week.

Let me know if you have any questions,

Mr. Reitz

OpenLab Assignment #1: Mathography

This assignment is due Thursday, June 13th, at the start of class.  Late submissions will receive partial credit.

Assignment. ¬†Choose ONE of the following two topics. ¬†Write a comment in reply to this post (click “Leave a Reply” below), responding to the topic in 1-2 paragraphs. ¬†Begin by telling us which topic you chose. ¬† Be sure to include your name 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, 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?  Be kind.

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‚Äôd like to talk about two activities that may NOT seem related to learning math ‚ÄĒ 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¬†‚Äď 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‚Äôt know how. ¬†The second is called¬†metacognition, or ‚Äúthinking about thinking.‚ÄĚ ¬†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‚Äôs why we‚Äôre getting started by writing a little about our past experiences with mathematics.

Getting Started with WeBWorK

WeBWorK is accessible from on and off campus (anywhere you have access to the internet).  Your first 4 assignments are due on Monday, June 10th, at midnight, and will cover the material from the first week of the course.  Here’s what you have to do:

Assignment.  To get started on your first assignment, you must complete the following three steps.

Step 1.  Log in to WeBWorK here:  I have created Usernames and Passwords for each student registered for my class.

Username. ¬†Your username for WeBWorK consists of your first initial plus your last name, all lowercase (for example, John Smith would have username ‚Äėjsmith‚Äô).

Password. ¬†Your temporary password is the same as your username (if your username is ‘jsmith’, your password is currently ‘jsmith’).

Step 2. ¬†Change your password and update your email address. ¬†To do this, select ‚ÄúPassword/Email‚ÄĚ from the main menu on the left. ¬†Use whatever email address you like (I suggest using one that you check often).

Step 3.  Complete the first assignment, titled Assignment1-WelcomeAndGettingStarted, by clicking on it in the main screen.

If you have¬†any trouble¬†‚Äď either with logging in, or with completing the assignment, post a comment here or send me an email and I will get back to you.

WeBWorK Tips:

  1. Click on a problem to see the details (the list of problems appears in the menu on the left). ¬†Enter an answer and hit ‚ÄúSubmit Answers‚ÄĚ. ¬†Don‚Äôt worry, if you get it wrong you can try it again.
  2. If the answer is a number:  you can enter it either as a decimal, like 3.57143 (round your answer), or as an exact answer, like 25/7.
  3. You can work on the problems in any order you wish.  You can do some problems now, and come back and do the rest another day (your work will be saved, as long as you submit your answers).
  4. If you want to print out a copy of the assignment, click on the assignment name in the main menu on the left, and then click the link in the main screen area that reads ‚ÄúDownload a hardcopy of this homework set.‚ÄĚ

Welcome and Getting Started

This course is MAT 1180, Mathematical Concepts and Applications, taking place in the Summer 2013 semester with Professor Reitz. ¬†We will be using this website in a variety of ways this semester ‚Äď as a central location for information about the course (assignments, review sheets, policies, and so on), a place to ask and answer questions, to post examples of our work, and to talk about mathematics, education, reality and imagination.

Getting Started on the OpenLab

Anyone on the internet can look around the site and see what we are doing, and even leave a comment on one of the pages.  However, only registered users can create new posts and participate in the discussion boards.

How do I register?

You will need to do two things:

  1. If you have not used the openlab before, you must first create an account.  You will need access to your citytech email address (LIVE@CityTech) for this.  Detailed instructions for signing up on the OpenLab can be found here.
  2. Once you have created an account on the OpenLab, log in and then join this particular course, 2013 Summer ‚Äď MAT 1180 ‚Äď Reitz. ¬†To do this, first click the ‚ÄúCourse Profile‚ÄĚ link at the top left of this page (just under the picture). ¬†Then click the “Join Now” button, which should appear just underneath the picture of the blackboard.

Problems with the OpenLab or with your CityTech email:

Please let me know if you run into any problems registering or joining our course (send me an email,  I also wanted to give you two resources to help out in the process:

1.  For problems with your citytech email account, contact the Student Computing Helpdesk, either in person, by phone, or by email:

Student Computing Helpdesk
Location: Namm First Floor ‚Äď Information Booth
Hours:¬†Monday, Wednesday & Friday: 9:00am ‚Äď 5:00pm
Tuesday & Thursday: 9:00am ‚Äď 6:00pm
Phone: 718.260.4900

2. For problems registering for the OpenLab, contact the OpenLab admin team, either by email at, or by following this link.