Introduce Yourself: Welcome to Math 121 Precalculus 1

Please use the discussion forum in D2L to introduce yourself to the class.  Please tell us where you are from city, state, country, your experience with mathematics and critical thinking, writing about thinking.  Tell us anything you would like us to know about you.


Habits of the Mind

This is a short post about habits of the mind.  These are useful strategies for life that you were born with and did without thinking but now probably have forgotten.

It is natural to question and be curious about how things work.   But often students are reluctant to ask questions feeling they should already know answers to certain questions.   Restoring you natural curiosity will lead you further than almost anything you could do in school or in life.

  1. Curiosity  improves learning
  2. Openness – stay open to new ideas, new ways of thinking, listen to feedback feedback from your classmates and others.
  3. Engagement: Be on the D2L, Khan Academy, and WebAssign sites each day, stay on top of it to master it.
  4. Creativity: Look for new ways to solve problems.  Watch videos and take notes in class.
  5. Responsibility: Each week earn your full points.  Don’t be afraid of taking credit for your hard work.  Acknowledge your success.  But also acknowledge when you are unsuccessful.  Take responsibility for it. Decide what can be done better next time.
  6. Flexibility: Use Openness and creativity.  Try to do things differently if you haven’t had success with your method.   Success takes lots of practice. So make sure you put in the necessary time.  This usually means lots of small sessions not all-nighters.
  7. MetaCognition: Think about learning as you learn.   Be aware as you solve problems that you are learning a deeper method that just the one problem you are working on.   As you write, show that you are aware of this.
  8. Reflection: Daily/Weekly try to summarize what you are learning and accomplishing.

Tips for Success in STEM Math Classes


  1. This class requires a time commitment of approximately 8 hours per week of outside class time. Plan on distributing this time throughout the week – If you can do a bit of work every day, you will feel much less overwhelmed.
  2. Be proactive about time management in your course. You may have significant obligations with your family, job, and other activities (not to mention important sleep requirements).  Create a plan for getting the work done, and be sure to make use of each weeks activities checklist.  Schedule your course work around your personal, professional, and other commitments, and stick to it.  This course goes by very quickly.  In addition to using the course tools, use reminders on your cellphone or use an old fashioned paper calendar to remind yourself about due dates and to set a schedule to work on assignments.  Plan sufficient time for completing multiple drafts of each math writing project as well as the WebAssign and Khan Academy problems.
  3. Log into D2L , WebAssign , Khan Academy Daily to complete problems and check the weeks activities list. Check your email regularly for communication from your instructor, course announcements and discussion posts daily.  Clear out and delete old emails if necessary.  Don’t use the “My mailbox is full I didn’t know excuse”.
  4. Familiarize yourself with the course syllabus and the class calendar. I will be adding information on the writing assignments and their due dates to the calendar.  Carefully, read the directions for all the major assignments, study the assignment rubrics, and follow submission guidelines for all assignments.
  5. If you have questions or need help, post a question to the discussion forums and mark it as “Question.” This alerts fellow students and your professor to your question and ensures you will get a response. Please allow time for your peers and your instructor to respond to any questions, and keep working on your assignments while waiting for any answers.
  6. Participate actively in the Discussions and in peer reviews. Be thorough in the feedback you provide to others.  By providing suggestions to other mathematicians about their work, you will find that you notice areas in your own work that can be improved.  In this way you will find that you sometimes benefit event more by giving feedback than receiving it.
  7. Make the most of each task and assignment. Even if you encounter an assignment you do not particularly care for, try to find a connection to the project or problem that makes it meaningful to you.  Use the experience as an opportunity to show how you can produce something meaningful to others with your words and your mathematics.
  8. Writing to Learn: 1st pass of writing. When you first write about a concept don’t worry about punctuation or complete sentences or concepts. Do worry about structure: I want to start with this … I want to conclude with this.   In order to get from start to finish you will need some evidence or proof of process (the work of a math problem).   Sometimes we solve math problems by imagining the conclusion and working backwards until we get to the initial given information, and then we write it up backwards, as if we knew the route to the solution all the time.   So when we write to learn sloppiness is o.k.