Tag Archives: openlab

OpenLab #10: Vi Hart

Vi Hart describes herself as a “recreational mathemusician” – she has a unique approach to mathematics and its connections to the world. ¬†In this assignment you’ll be exploring some of her videos (she has a YouTube channel here), and using them as a basis for creating a new blog post.

Assignment (Due November 20, 2014).  Create a new blog post responding to the instructions below. Creating a new blog post allows you more flexibility than simply leaving a comment. You have the ability to edit your work after you submit it, and to include photos, videos and other media. It also allows you to contribute to the public content of our course website.

You can get started by clicking the plus sign at the very top of our site¬†(if you don’t see it, make sure you are logged in to the OpenLab). Detailed instructions on creating a new blog post can be found here¬†(see “Writing a Post” in the middle of the page). You should create a new post including the following:

  • The title should include the word “Videos” and also your name.
  • Your post should include responses to all three parts of the assignment described¬†below.
  • Under “Category,” select “OpenLab Assignment” (you will see this on the right side of the screen)
  • Under tags, enter “OpenLab 10”, “Vi Hart”, and any¬†other tags you think¬†describe the videos you watched (for example, you might choose “pi” if it’s a video about pi). ¬†Don’t forget to click “Add” after entering your tags in the box.
  • When you’re done, click “Publish” (the blue button towards the top right on the screen).


Watch at least three different videos by Vi Hart from  https://www.youtube.com/user/Vihart/ .  You should:

  • choose videos at least 2 minutes in length
  • choose¬†videos that are related to¬†math in some way
  • choose three videos, at least two of which should not appear on her front page (older or less popular videos). ¬†For a full list of her videos, click the “Videos” button near the top of her page – or click here. ¬†Scroll to the bottom and click “Load more” to see older videos.

In your post, include a response to each of the following three Parts:

Part 1. Include a link to each video you watched (3 minimum), the title, and a one or two sentence description of what the video was about.

Now choose one video to focus on.  You MUST watch it 3 times. Use it as the basis for parts 2 and 3.

Part 2.  Write one paragraph discussing the contents of the video:

  • How did you feel watching it? Did you like it, or not? Were you confused? Inspired? Bored? Excited? Bewildered? ¬†Why?
  • What is one thing you learned¬†from the video?
  • What is one question you¬†have after watching it?

Part 3. ¬†Write a one-paragraph reflection discussing what the video could mean to your own math teaching. ¬†Is it math? Is it teaching? Is it relevant to the work you will be doing in the classroom?¬†Is there¬†any connection to last week’s assigned reading (Lockhart’s Lament)? ¬†Any other thoughts?

Extra Credit. ¬†You can earn extra credit by responding to one of your classmates’ posts. ¬†As always, be kind, be respectful, be honest.

Week 9 Assignments

Written work, Due Tuesday, November 4th, in class:
Chapter 7 p129: 5, 9, 10, 12
**Chapter 8 p143: 3, 7, 18, 19
      **Chapter 8 has been extended to Tuesday, November 11th
OpenLab¬†–¬†OpenLab #8 due Thursday, November 6th¬†at the start of class

Class work: There will be group & individual work completed & submitted in class on Thursday 10/30/14, which will count towards your “Project” grade.

OpenLab #7: Let the games begin

Hi everyone,

Based on your responses to OpenLab #6,¬†I have assigned each of you a game to work on (everyone got their first or second choice). ¬†Check the “Who is doing what” list below to see which game you will be working on. ¬†Then follow the appropriate link from the list below to view your assignment (detailed instructions are provided for each game).

Prof. Reitz

Links to assignments (Due TUESDAY, OCTOBER 28th – end of day):

Who is doing what:

Chiu,SinFong Bridges and Walking Tours
Conyers,Sarah Bridges and Walking Tours
Felamon,Marina MIU Game
Garcia,Yanira Bridges and Walking Tours
Hamza,Syed Mutilated Checkerboards
Jones,Stacy Mutilated Checkerboards
Kamath, Neil Bridges and Walking Tours
Laing,Latina Mutilated Checkerboards
Lee,Victor MIU Game
M Rafeek, Rushdha Mutilated Checkerboards
Mongo,Joseph Mutilated Checkerboards
Perez,Leonardo MIU Game
Rivera,Julia Mutilated Checkerboards
Ruiz,Joseph Mutilated Checkerboards
Sao,Sidney Mutilated Checkerboards
Shati,Farjana MIU Game
Sun,Jian Mutilated Checkerboards

Week 5 Assignments

Week 5 Assignments

** EXTENSION: WeBWorK Assignment #4 (due last week) has been re-opened and extended to Tuesday, October 7th, if you wish to continue working on it  (this was done because the final problem has some material on negating statements that we will cover early this week)

Written work¬†‚Ästnone
WeBWorK¬†–¬†Assignments #4** and #5, due Tuesday, October 7th, at midnight.
OpenLab РOpenLab #5, due Thursday, October 9th (at start of class).

OpenLab #4: The importance of “Why?”

Kids love to ask “Why?”

If you’re like most people who attended public school in the U.S., most of the math you‚Äôve done in your life has been primarily¬†computational, or algorithmic – you learn a kind of problem, you learn a method to solve it, you practice it a few times, and you demonstrate that you’ve learned it by solving a problem on an exam. ¬†Maybe the solution involves memorizing a formula, or a set of steps (an algorithm). ¬†Very seldom are you asked to consider the reasons¬†behind the method – what I call the “why” questions. ¬†And if you ever asked these kind of questions, there is a good chance that you were not often given a very satisfying answer.

Questions you may not have spent much time on in math class:

  • Why does the formula look like¬†this,¬†instead of something else?
  • Why do we do these steps, in this order? How do we know this method actually works? ¬†Why does it work?
  • Why is this fact (“theorem”) true? ¬†I don’t believe it – can you convince me?
  • What’s the big deal about this fact (or formula)? ¬†Why is it important?

To begin¬†this¬†assignment, I’d like you to spend some time thinking about the different kinds of math you’ve learned in your life. ¬†Look at math textbooks or class notes from past and current classes. ¬†Think about the ¬†math skills you learned at different ages – from early experiences with counting, up through things like algebra or geometry, and on to Calculus or Linear Algebra or other recent courses. ¬† If you still have some old math work from your high school, middle school, or elementary school years that might help too (maybe your parents kept some of your childhood work?). ¬†If you’re in the Math Ed program, you can think about the math that you are working on¬†in your MEDU courses. ¬†As you consider these topics, think about the “why” questions – when you were learning this topic, did you spend time in¬†class talking about “why?” ¬†¬†Did you do activities or other work that helped you understand the reasons for the formulas and methods that you learned?

Assignment (due Thursday 10/2/14). The assignment consists of two parts.  Be sure to answer each part completely (they are equally important).

1. ¬†Describe a time that you DID learn about the “why” behind a mathematical idea (why something works, or where it came from, etc.). ¬†Tell us about it –¬†how old were you, what was the class (or did it happen outside of class?), what was the topic, and what did you learn?

One example that came up in a class discussion was the activity introducing the number \pi by having students measure the diameter and circumference of various circular objects, and showing that the ratio was always a little more than 3.

2. ¬†State¬†three questions about math that you do not¬†know the answer to (but would like¬†to!). ¬†For each question, tell us why you find it interesting. ¬†The questions…

  • …should involve¬†“why” or “how”
  • …should be about math topics that you are already familiar with – things you’ve studied (you need not be an expert)
  • …should come from different math topics, at different levels (some examples: ¬†arithmetic, fractions, algebra, geometry, functions, calculus, probability, … )

Some examples of “why” questions.¬†

  1. Why does a \times b equal b \times a?
  2. Why do we need a common denominator when we add fractions?
  3. How do we know that \sqrt{2} is irrational (not equal to a fraction)?
  4. Where does the quadratic formula come from?  How do we know it always works?
  5. The fundamental theorem of calculus gives us a way to evaluate an integral Рfor example, to find the area under a curve.  How do we know this actually works, and gives the correct answer?


Week 4 Assignments

Week 4 Assignments

HEADS UP: Next week Tuesday 9/23 is on a Friday schedule (so we do NOT meet), and next week Thursday 9/25 there are no classes.

Written work¬†‚Ästnone
WeBWorK¬†–¬†Assignments #3 and #4, due Tuesday, September 23th*, at midnight.
*NOTE: we do NOT have class this day!
OpenLab РOpenLab #4, due Thursday, October 2nd (at start of class).

Week 3 Assignments

Week 3 Assignments

UPDATE: WeBWorK #3 will be due Tuesday, September 23 (not September 16 as originally indicated)

Written work¬†‚Äď Sec 1.8*: 3, 5, 6, 8, due Tuesday, September 16th, in class.
* GRADING: odd-numbered problems worth 3 points, even problems 5 points.

WeBWorK¬†–¬†Assignment #3, due Tuesday, September 23th, at midnight.
OpenLab РOpenLab #3, due Thursday, Sept 18th (at start of class).

OpenLab #2: Mathography

This assignment is due Thursday, September 11, at the start of class.

Assignment.  Choose ONE of the following two topics.  Write a reply to this post, responding to the topic.  Begin by telling us which topic you chose. (1-2 paragraphs).


  1. 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 to you, tell us about it.
  2. Choose an experience you had in which you suddenly understood a math concept (it could be any kind of math, from elementary school up through college).  Describe what happened.  Do you think you could explain it to others in a way that they could have the same flash of understanding?

Extra Credit. ¬†For extra credit, write a response to one of your classmates’ comments. ¬†Do you feel the same, or different? ¬†Did you learn anything? ¬†Did you get any ideas about teaching, or about learning?

Why are we doing this, anyway?¬† We are following two ideas that have come up already in class — things 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¬†‚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.