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Math OER
 Start of Term Reflection 

Logic moves in one direction, the direction of clarity, coherence and structure.

Ambiguity moves in the other direction, that of fluidity, openness, and release.

Mathematics moves back and forth between these two poles...It is the interaction between these different aspects that gives mathematics its power.

- William Byers

lake scene from Hero film Numerous studies have shown that people who pause to think about their learning will learn better. Mindfulness works. Clarity helps.

The questions below are only suggestions. You do not need to answer all of them. There might be other issues you want to write about instead.

movie travel transition scene map Think of this reflection like getting a car a tune-up and looking at maps before starting a road trip. The purpose is to "check in" with yourself, and to take a moment to notice how your learning styles and personal math history fit into this class.

lion jumping through hoop You can instead treat answering these questions like a performing circus lion jumping through hoops. That will change this assignment from a reflection into a chore, and get the chore done. But you will not be as ready. No one wants to go on a road trip with a circus lion.


Our class allows you to use carefully prepared notes on assessment. How will you condense your class notes, online material, thoughts, homework, favorite textbook example problems, and other resources into a manageable and organized aid? What do you imagine your carefully prepared notes will look like?

Will you be able to enjoy study groups? What will that look like this term?

Have you looked at the distance learning tips closely enough?

Is anything in the syllabus surprising?

walking barefoot at the beach For most students, the biggest danger in a math class is making things harder than they need to be. This is true at the small level of mistakes on tests. It is true on the big level of studying, homework, and grading. What can you do to avoid making things harder than they need to be?

Another big danger is jerky pacing. Each term I see students who are surprised and thrilled at how well they do...when they finally start studying seriously. The entire term would have been more enjoyable if they had spread out those hours of studying week by week, instead of a few bouts of panic before tests. They would have felt so much less stress if they had mastered the math topics as each was taught, instead of waiting until the very end. Which of the study skills will be most important for you? What will you do before the term begins to begin the term with some forward momentum? What will you do during the term to help with time management? What will you do to become the main character in your math class story?

What do you expect will be the biggest academic challenge you face while in this class? The biggest non-academic challenge? How might your classmates, instructor, or other resources minimize these challenges?

The syllabus describes responsibilities. Which of the student responsibilities is most helpful for you to succeed this term? Which of the instructor responsibilities will help you the most? Did you have past math instructors who neglected their instructor responsibilities to your detriment? Are you starting the class with hopeful or fearful expectations that relate to the responsibilities?

Have you looked at the college calendar closely enough? When is the deadline for a tuition refund? When is the last day for schedule changes, including grade options? When and where is our final exam? What situations always allow an LCC student to ask for a final exam to be rescheduled?

What letter grade are you aiming for? Are you aiming for a +, −, or plain letter grade? How many achievements are needed to reach those goals?

How does learning math relate to dignity? Are you already comfortable in a math class standing on your own two feet? How might distance learning help or hinder standing as part of something bigger than yourself? Do the math topics themselves relate to dignity? Or any elements of how the class is structured?

Give an example of some math baggage you are carrying because of the past. How could this class help you deal with it? How could you help classmates deal with theirs?

mountain-top meditation After pondering all the above issues, and reading once more the syllabus section entitled Truth, Wisdom, and Encouragement, write a mentoring letter to a friend (real or imaginary). Has this reflection been helpful? How can you encourage another math student?