OpenLab #1: Advice from the Past

For the past several years I have taught this same course in the Fall semester.   At the end of each course, I give my students the following assignment:

Imagine that you are invited to speak on the first day of MAT 2071, to give advice to entering students.  Write at least three sentences … describing what you would tell them.

To see the assignment and the students’ responses, follow this link for Fall 2017 and  this link for Fall 2016.

Your assignment, due at the beginning of class on Thursday, September 6th, is to:

  1. Read through ALL the responses (there are 25 of them altogether).
  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 succeed in this course?

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


  1. Danping Zhong

    It’s beneficial to read all the advises from previous students at the beginning of this course . Yasmine said, “since you will start this class with sets, you may not take it seriously, but you have to take it seriously from day one because it is going to be more challenging later on.” This advisement causes my attention. Because in the first week, we learned about the basic concept sets that seems easy to me, and makes me feel very relax. Base on this advice, I need to take it seriously and think deeper every class from now on. Because it’s going to be challenging later, and the fundamental concepts are very important.

    • Jonas Reitz

      Dear Danping,
      Thanks for being first-to-respond – and welcome to our OpenLab site! You are absolutely right about fundamental concepts – if you can absorb them deeply, they will serve you very well in the rest of the course. Good luck!
      – Prof. Reitz

    • jesstopal

      Dear Dan,
      Thank you for sharing your thoughts. I agree with you that we should think deeper and take things more seriously at the beginning of the semester before it’s too late, as you mentioned, that it is going to be challenging later on. For this, we should practice every day, which will help us to understand the fundamental concepts.

  2. jesstopal

    Professor Reitz gives us homework on paper and on Webwork. I think these assignments would help us to practice and give us change to review what we learn in the class. One of the students said that we should not miss any classes because this class is building us up and making connections. I agree with this student because everything seems to connect with each other. My advice is also not to miss any classes, and practice, practice, practice, which is precious advice that students have given us. I think if we take this class very seriously at the beginning of the semester, we will learn and have victory at the end of the semester. The keys are practicing, asking questions, studying as soon as possible, and finishing homework on time. Of course, nothing is easy; sometimes we will walk down a road with dangerous rocks, and sometimes, we might fall down or give up; however, we should never give up our hope and keep learning new things. Learning new things makes us more incredible and stronger. We should always remember that “a rolling stone gathers no moss.”

    • Junior

      I agree with you Jess. There is never too much practice and in the end it will all be beneficial. Always stay on top of your work!!

    • Aleks

      I agree Jess, the more practice we do the more easier time we will have

    • Jonas Reitz

      Thanks, Jess – I like the rock analogy, and how you tie this analogy into the saying at the end. Nice writing!

  3. Junior

    What do you wish that you had been told at the start of this class, to help you succeed?

    I am lazy and get distracted very easily. Luckily Professor Reitz keeps the class entertaining. That being said the most important thing I must tell you is to do your homework. Professor Reitz gives a set of textbook, and webwork homework. It may seem like too much but honestly don’t be afraid of it. Just make sure you give yourself enough time to be able to complete it. What i like to do is do a couple questions a day over the week. That way its not overwhelming. Best of luck to everyone.

    • Junior

      By the way professor this is Federico Chavez.

    • Jessie

      Great advice on completing the homework. I will be using your methods.

    • Jonas Reitz

      The strategy of working a little bit every day can be really useful – so if you get stuck on a problem, you can think about it some and come back to it another day (sometimes things just have to mix around in your head a bit). Great!

  4. Silvana

    ” Remember to just enjoy the class, ask for help, practice and participate, and also do the extra credit.” She stated many things we must remember, one is to enjoy the class. Of course we must take class very serious, but if we can enjoy it, I believe we would have even a better and easier time. A lot of the responses emphasized to keep track of homework and to always ask for help. Sometimes I do not like to speak up, however I know if I am not sure of something it is important I ask for help.

    • Rachel

      This is something I forgot to mention in my post, but I so agree with you about enjoying the class! Obviously we’re here to learn, but that doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy the material. I think we’ll all be more likely to show up every class and really put in effort if we like what we are doing. I’m not too keen on speaking up in class either, but I agree that when a topic is difficult we must ask questions.

    • Jonas Reitz

      You are so right – the emotional experience has a huge effect on how much you can learn, how much you’re willing to work, and so much more. I enjoy this class a lot, and it makes this part of my job a pleasure! I love questions, too – even though speaking up is not always easy, you will look back and thank yourself (and other folks will thank you too).

  5. Aleks

    ‘Reading each chapter and attempting to do some of the problems BEFORE the subject are discussed in class.’ This statement stood out to me most because to prepare prior to the class starting has been challenging but I understand the benefits in doing so and have to learn to change my habits. In making a change I should probably look over the lesson prior to class and most important of all to ask questions!

    • Jonas Reitz

      Working ahead is incredibly helpful (but also difficult to maintain the discipline to do, in the face of so many demands on your time). Great advice!

  6. Samantha.C

    Reading all of the prior students advices from the previous class actually gave me a better aspect of what Ive to be prepared for further on in to the semester. Evelin, advices stood out to me mostly. She stated “In order to do well in this class I recommend you to do the two P’s. The two P’s stand for practice and participate.” I feel like this is great advice, practicing your craft is the most important thing to do with what ever your doing. Participating helps you build your confidence in your self and your work. I just know I have to work hard and not to forget when things are due. I have a very busy life, work 2 jobs and have a 4 year old child so things can get hectic for me but I do stay on top of my work and get things done. I attended to work hard to achieve my goal, which is earning the grade I desire. Im looking forward for this semester I’m ready to learn and grow more.

  7. Jessie

    Stephanie Cuate’s saod
    “Don’t forget to do your homework!
    Homework helps you practices more especially for the exams. And try doing all the problems, don’t leave anything blank. It’s for your own good” This piece of advice really hit home because I FORGOT TO FINISH MY HOMEWORK!! Maybe if I would have read the advices first I would have remembered. The actions I actually began to take so this wouldn’t happen again is that I printed out a homework planner template online So I can be more organized . I plan to make multiple copies and list all my homework due for each class on all of them and put each one in a notebook so that I can have an actual schedule and plan for completing all my homework in a timely matter. That way I already know the assignment without having to search through pages as a reminder.

    • Samantha.C

      Jessie, YOUR NOT THE ONLY ONE THAT FORGOT TO FINISH YOUR HOMEWORK! I started to panic when I read the advice from the previous students that took the class, and I’m like oh not I messed up already. But Im very aware now that its 3 homework assignments that needs to be done once a week. Im more prepared and organized now that I messed up. Now that I read the other students advice, I WILL NOT MISS ANOTHER HOMEWORK AGAIN! LOL

  8. Jessie

    I know Armando Cosme and I trust him when it comes to anything related to my major and classes. His advice from Fall 2016 was “One piece of advice for this class, LEARN THE TERMS!!! TATTOO THEM INTO YOUR BRAIN!!!! They show up so much in this class. You need to know them WORD FOR WORD.” A classmate followed up with “keep a Notebook of definitions to keep every time a new term pops up!” My advice to everyone is that maybe we should keep their advice in mind.

    • Jonas Reitz

      Armando was a great student – definitely worth listening to his advice!

  9. Rachel

    The advice that seemed most repeated, and that I feel to be very relevant to me, was to practice the material as much as possible. It sounds like proofs are difficult to get the hang of, and several students remarked that the only way to get good at them is to do as many as you can. I’m not the best at studying, but to succeed in this course I will definitely put in the extra time and effort! Especially relevant to me is the comments about completing the extra credit, as often times I miss chances to improve my grades. It sounds like some students were kicking themselves for not taking advantage of all the opportunities to improve their grades by commenting on others’ posts or completing the entire set of homework problems. I’ll be sure to heed their advice and do all the extra credit I can! In order to be successful in this course I could also set aside a chunk of time on my calendar each week specifically for studying for this course and completing the homework assignments, and remember to ask more questions during class.

  10. Franklin Ajisogun

    To the new students who are preparing to take Professor Reitz – Proof & Logic class in the fall 2019, rest assure you in a safe hand. Professor Reitz is an amazing professor, who is great in explaining his class material.
    In class, there are three type of homework assignments- the openlab, the written homework and the online homework which is webwork. At first, you may think it’s a lot for only one class, but it will all play out well. The homework assignments will give you a better understanding about the class materials and help prepare you for the exams.
    To do well in this class, you must dedicate time to practice the exercises in the book and do the homework. This will give you a better chance of getting an A in his class.
    Professor Reitz is always happy when students ask him questions from the homework assignments and previous class materials so ask lots of questions. Professor Reitz always finds a way to relate his class materials to real life experiences as well. Professor Reitz always has excellent energy while he’s teaching and prepare for his dad jokes.

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