OpenLab #4: Reflecting on the Class

Every college class is planned with certain goals in mind Рto convey ideas, to encourage certain kinds of thinking, to provide opportunities for learning, for exploration, for practice.  A typical plan consists of a mix of different activities, both in and out of class, and hopefully each activity contributes to achieving the goals of the class.  In this assignment, I am going to ask you to think about some of the different things you have done for this class and reflect on their effectiveness.

Some of the activities that make up this class are listed below.  This list is not comprehensive (it may be missing things!), and includes both in-class and out-of-class activities.

Partial list of activities:

  • lectures
  • webwork assignments
  • openlab assignments
  • exams
  • answering questions at the board (often at the start of class)
  • doing examples on the board (often during the course of a lecture)
  • working on problems individually during class
  • group work during class
  • asking/answering questions by email
  • office hours
  • working on your own outside of class (doing homework, review problems, studying, etc)
  • working with one or more fellow students outside of class (doing homework, review problems, studying, etc.)

Assignment (Due Tuesday, July 2nd).  Respond to at least two of the following questions (1 or 2 sentences each).  Feel free to discuss activities that are not listed above, if you wish.

  1. What activities have been most useful to you in preparing for exams? Why?
  2. What activities have been most useful to you in making connections between the class material and other areas of your life? Why?
  3. What activities have been most useful in building community in our class (creating a comfortable atmosphere, getting to know your fellow students, building trust)? Why?
  4. Are there any activities that you wish you had spent more time on (this includes activities that are not on the list, but you think should be included)? Explain.

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.

Topics.

  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.