Discussion 1: Introductions & Mathography

Your first OpenLab Discussion assignment is to introduce yourself to your classmates.  This assignment is due Tuesday, August 31st, at the start of class. Late submissions will receive partial credit.

Assignment. Add a comment in reply to this post introducing yourself to the class (click “COMMENTS” just below the title above).  Your comment should be at least 2 paragraphs in length.  In the first paragraph, introduce yourself in whatever way you wish. You could include your academic interests, why you chose your major, what you enjoy reading, listening to, watching, and doing in your spare time, or anything else you want to share (include your pronouns, if you wish).  In the second paragraph, choose ONE of the following two topics and write a response. Don’t forget to tell us which topic you chose.

Topics (choose ONE).

  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. Tell us about it.

Extra Credit. Get to know your classmates! 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.


  1. suerissberger

    Hello all – my name is Sue (she/her/hers) and I am currently taking this class for credit towards my second teaching certification (math, grades 7-12). I’m going into my 7th year teaching Geometry and Algebra in a public HS in Manhattan as a special education teacher in a general ed classroom. I originally studied psychology and sociology in undergrad, but after teaching abroad and spending time back in the city I applied for NYC Teaching Fellows. My favorite topic to teach is trigonometry, and the topic that young people are most challenged by is triangle congruency. I love photography, too!

    My opinion about math changed when I started teaching it! I didn’t like or appreciate it in HS, and felt like my teachers then looked at it more from a procedural fluency lens. I now try to embrace the creative aspect of it, focus on the art of problem solving, and help students see that math can literally change/improve the connections in your brain.

    • Jonas Reitz

      Hi Sue – thanks for being first to post! I’m also a big fan of the creative activity of “doing math” – sounds like you are doing great work in our high schools. Welcome!

      • Jaroslav E Sykora

        Actually, Sue is the second. Just to make things strait.

        • Jonas Reitz

          Actually, I *think* she might have been first — the timestamp on her post is yesterday evening, whereas yours is this morning (though please correct me if I’m wrong!). Not that it matters – thanks to both of you for your prompt responses!

          • Jaroslav E Sykora

            No, it really does not matter. I should not be so touchy. Sorry!

    • Rachel J Dawidowicz

      I was lucky to be in High School when Common Core was implemented, and remember tutoring elementary and middle school kids as a peer tutor in high school during that time. The way they teach math has changed so much from when I was doing elementary mathematics. It’s more confusing if I were to be honest

    • Nina Melendez

      WOW!!!! We are living parallel lives!!! I just read your post and it is like reading my own. We have such a similar journey, the only difference might be our undergrad(I have an undergrad in visual arts & photography). I am a 8th year (just ended my 7th year) Special Education Teacher that started through the NYC Teaching Fellows; I am currently trying to get certified as a high school math teacher. When in high school I disliked math and now through teaching it I discovered how much I love it. Wishing you the best in your journey through getting certified.

      • suerissberger

        Hi Nina! Truly parallel lives – I also did NYCTF 🙂 Let’s connect as I’d really like to hear about/share resources for Algebra I. Enjoy teaching your visual arts course and best of luck as the school year begins!

  2. Jaroslav E Sykora

    Hi All!

    My name is Jaroslav (= pronounced “Yaroslav”) and here is my story: Since we do not have a TV (intentionally), we spend the evening times by playing table games (I, my daughter and my wife). It is not to say that my daughter would not watch TikTok on her iPhone, though. The truth is she is an addict, but we still make her play with us. I recently fell in love with acrylic painting (although I had never painted with acrylic before). I guess my attitude regarding acrylic changed by the brain-tumor surgery in 2019. I heard about a case that one guy, a total homo ignoramus, developed a passion for mathematics (but I will write about it in the second paragraph). So when I speak slowly and my speech ability is delayed, please, be patient with me bc that the result of the surgery.

    I said I’ll write about an extraordinary case of Jason Padgett, the mathematical genius who developed his talent after a brain surgery. “In 2002, two men savagely attacked Jason Padgett outside a karaoke bar, leaving him with a severe concussion and post-traumatic stress disorder. But the incident also turned Padgett into a mathematical genius who sees the world through the lens of geometry.” Padgett, a furniture salesman from Tacoma, Washington, who had very little interest in academics, developed the ability to visualize complex mathematical objects and physics concepts intuitively. The injury, while devastating, seems to have unlocked part of his brain that makes everything in his world appear to have a mathematical structure.” [www.livescience.com] He wrote a book called Struck by Genius, and I plan to read it.

    • Jonas Reitz

      Hi Jaroslav – wow, you have had quite a couple of years, as the pandemic must have hit while you were recovering from your surgery! “Getting back to normal” is one of those things we talk about happening in the future, but I don’t think there’s any normal that we’re getting back to – we just keep evolving, I think. You probably know this better than most. I’m very interested in Jason Padgett – I’ll check out “Struck by Genius”. Thanks!

  3. Rachel J Dawidowicz

    I am Rachel (She/Her). I always loved math, because math is [for the most part] predictable and logical. I am a lifelong epileptic, so when my seizures were uncontrolled, when the next episode would occur.. is well, unpredictable. Math has always given me that sense of control. I also love math because I love art. As a musician, I am subconsciously using math to subdivide (For those who are nonmusical- where you divide each beat by two. a quarter not becomes an eighth, and eight a sixteenth, etc..) all while keeping my eyes on the conductor to match the ever-changing tempos (I also have the reed of my instrument with a standing wave/wave equation along it to depict the coexistence of math and music). As far as art, you look at Kandinsky, Piccaso, Brock, and many more who used geometric shapes in their work. I love the art that’s caused by math (take the Mandelbrot set or the Newton Fractal). And finally (I promise) the math that’s found in nature (patterns on insect wings and hexagons being the optimal shape for honeycomb).

    • Jonas Reitz

      Hi Rachel – I’m also really drawn to the structure and predictability of math – which makes it all the more unsettling when you discover something unpredictable or counterintuitive. I love both art & music (great respect to those who make either or both) and they are great areas to explore patterns! Last night I happened upon this video (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JiNKlhspdKg) by Adam Neely which, despite the title, is about much more than polyrhythms – he gives a cool explanation that pitch and rhythm are really the same phenomenon at different speeds, and does awesome comparison of pitch combination and how they are related to polyrhythms. He then takes it another step and compares these to colors and color combos, looking at light frequency. Really fascinating and inspirational! He talks about Kandinsky as well. Good stuff! Thanks for sharing.

  4. Angie

    Hi everyone! My name is Angie Zumba and I am Ecuadorian. I am currently 19 years old turning 20 in less than a month. In the fall of 2019 I began my first semester at Queens College as a mathematics major, however when the pandemic hit and online classes began, school became much harder. It was much harder to focus, therefore I decided to transfer to City Tech fall of 2020 as an architecture major. Unfortunately, that did not work out either, it was very difficult to not have someone walking around the classroom checking if your plans were okay. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed drawing the plans and building my models but it was too much to keep up with. After spring 2021, I felt completely lost with what path to take. Then I remembered how much I love children and love math so I decided to follow the path of math education. Despite changing my mind multiple times, I realized there is nothing wrong with that, as long as you are happy. In my free time I enjoy playing soccer, going to the gym and just going out with my friends. I currently have two jobs, so time management is something I am still working on.
    Topic 2 : When I was in 6th grade I remember hating math so much but then I realized it was only because of the teacher. When I began 8th grade, I took algebra and it was crazy how much I loved solving math problems. All you really had to do was memorize the process, and you would be able to solve any problem, which in a way made me have power. Going in as a freshman in high school , I took geometry which wasn’t really my favorite, I really disliked dealing with shapes. Moving forward, I took trigonometry in 10th grade, pre-calculus in 11th, and calculus my senior year. I always found myself enjoying every year and looking forward to class.

    • suerissberger

      Hi Angie! I enjoyed reading your post and the paths you’ve taken which have led you to math education! I just want to offer that you still never know where life will take you. I currently teach at a HS where the focus is architecture, so perhaps that interest will find it’s way back to you as a teacher in the future 🙂 Feel free to reach out if you ever have any questions.

    • Norman Moncrieffe

      I agree! Geometry is the worst!

    • Jonas Reitz

      I agree with Sue – it’s great to hear the path you’ve followed that brought you to this point, and it’s a really good reminder to stay flexible and open while pursuing your dreams. I also love solving problems (I think I get some of that same dopamine reward that gamblers get when they win – it’s so satisfying!)

  5. Nina Melendez

    My name is Nina Melendez(she/her/hers) I am pursuing my second degree in Math Education; I currently hold a Masters in Special Education with a Bilingual Extension. I chose this degree to become fully certified as a high school math teacher(a role I have been in for 7 years). I hold an undergrad in Visual Arts, specifically Painting, Photography and Art History. Additionally, as personal interests go I spend a lot of time gardening and when possible traveling.

    Ironically Math was not my least favorite subject in school(high school), although I always performed well, my focus was towards the arts. I was most active in art(visual arts) and drama class. I think my interest in Math spiked when I had to teach it. When I was hired as a public school teacher they needed someone to teach Algebra (I originally wanted to be an ELA teacher), since I always did well I offered to teach the Algebra 1 curriculum in both a Stand alone and co-taught classroom. In the past 7 years I have had the opportunity to teach Algebra 1, Algebra 2, Geometry, Algebra Tech & Financial Literacy. This school year I will teach Bilingual Algebra 1, Bilingual Algebra Tech, & am the content teacher in an ICT Algebra Classroom. Additionally this upcoming school year I am going to have the opportunity to teach a visual arts course. So it is fair to say math is NOT my least favorite subject anymore.

    • Jonas Reitz

      I think your experience in the Visual Arts could be a real strength in your math teaching – first, because there is so much awesome math in art, but also because your connection to “non-STEM” fields can help bridge the gap for students that don’t like math.

  6. stripes

    Hi everyone – I’m Kim and I’ve always enjoyed math. I studied economics in undergrad and took statistics and calculus I but never thought to continue studying the topic. I took the philosophy course propositional logic as an elective and had a nearly 100 average but at the time didn’t realize it was actually somewhat of a math course until I saw this class! About two years ago, I decided to take a math class each semester to see how far I could go with it so I re-enrolled in probability + statistics, pre-calculus and calculus I, and am now taking this class and calculus II. I don’t remember much of what I learned in undergrad but I find that I’m more critically understanding the material now beyond just the numbers and appreciating it much more.

    I think what I like about math is the challenge of critical thinking and the satisfaction of figuring things out. Even with my greater appreciation for math lately, I hadn’t thought about it as an art form until reading some of these comments! I like modern minimalist art, especially stripes, and perhaps its because of the more predictable pattern. Thanks for mentioning this to us!

    • Jonas Reitz

      We will definitely be talking about propositional logic in this course (next up, after set theory) – you’ll have a head start on that part! Math + Art is one of my favorite combinations (I like those stripey paintings, too)

  7. Norman Moncrieffe

    My name is Norman Moncrieffe. I was born and raised in Queens, NY. I am a US Navy veteran who served in the submarine force for 5 years. My major is Electronic Engineering Technology. I chose this major because it involves a lot of math and that is my best subject that I am proficient in. I also like to fix problems. In my spare time, I like to do bodybuilding, martial arts, watching movies and videos on YouTube, reading books and listening to music.
    Math has been my favorite subject since the 6th grade. My math teacher would get mad when students didn’t do his homework or pass his tests. So what he loved to do the most was call their parents. I was so fed up with him calling my parents to the point that math became my main priority. I would try my best to do whatever it took to for him to not call my house that my grades improved but I was still failing science and social studies, which was my worst subjects. From then, I started to see math a little different and easier because it doesn’t involve a lot of reading like science, social studies and English would. You just have to be good with numbers. The only thing I hate about math is geometry.

    • Jonas Reitz

      I love that you served on submarines (wow) – I’m sure you have some stories… (I’m also tempted by this idea of calling my students’ parents, like your 6th grade teacher did – probably not really appropriate at the college level, I guess)

  8. Marielys Bueno

    Hey everyone my name is Marielys Bueno, I am from the Dominican Republic and I am currently a mathematics education major. I would love to share my love for math with the future generation. I am 20 years old about to turn 21 in a month so happy about that :). I just recently received my associates in Science last semester and I knew mathematics education was the right choice for my bachelors. After coming to the US when I was eight years old, school became more difficult because of the language barrier. However, my progress in mathematics never stopped. Knowing I was behind on many subjects due to the language, I started to excel in mathematics to show that I am putting in the effort. After those years, I grew a love for mathematics, and that’s when I decided that mathematics education was the major for me. I feel like the teachers that impacted my decision into this major were the teachers that genuinely love what they do for a living. I would love to share the passion I have for this subject with students and help them become math geniuses.

    • setsandstripes

      That is SUCH an incredible story, Marielys! Your experiences make me feel inspired to keep learning math :). Do you know what grades you want to teach?


      • Marielys Bueno

        Hey Kim,
        Yes math is very important in our everyday life, keep learning one day you will be a mathematician who knows right 🙂 . I would like to teach grades 6-12 i feel those are the years students really need to understand the importance of math. My favorite subjects as well are Algebra, Trigonometry, Statitics and Calculus. Those are the main subjects I would love to teach.

    • Jonas Reitz

      Looking back, it was definitely teachers that loved what they were doing that inspired me to pursue math. Teachers can make such a difference! I hope you can bring that joy of math to your students 🙂

  9. Fatima Calderon

    HI. I’m Fatima Calderon, a third year student at City Tech and I am majoring in Applied Computational Physics. My pronouns are she/they and I have interests in digital art, video games, and anime. With my interests in video games, I also work at GameStop part-time as a Game Advisor and hope to move up the more I work there. I can honestly say that math has been my favorite subject since around middle school. I always found that it was my strongest suit, with science being very close behind. Those two being very close together kind of paved the way for my interest in Physics. I think the thing i love most about mathematics is that it can be connected to everything in big ways, small ways, and every way in between. The concepts of mathematics help piece together so many things for me. With math being one of my strongest skills, I find that connecting it to everything helps me understand what exactly is needed in any sort of situation.

  10. Anik

    Hi, my name is Anik and I am from Bangladesh. My major is mathematics education but I also have taken other classes like physics, chemistry, biology, and philosophy. My future goal is to become a mathematics teacher in high school/college. In my free time ( I am free 24 hours btw) I love to play sports, video games or watch random videos.
    When I was really young My favourite subject was science but as we know science and math are closely related to each other. ( which make me focus more and more on mathematics ) As I grow up I realize math is crucial for our cognitive development which continuously helping me to develop my logical thinking skills. Moreover, math teaches me how I can think outside of the box to solve any real-life problems or how to have some really deep thinking.

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