Mike Pierce

Precalculus: Symmetry and Transformations

My email address is . Feel free to email me any questions you have, but please be thoughtful with your emails. My office hours will be held directly after each discussion section.

You can also get help at Math Emporium located in room Surge 347:


We’ll do a worksheet every Thursday in discussion. The worksheets are intended to be either a challenging extension of what you’ve been covering in lecture, or a useful aside from the main material covered in the course. The questions are meant to feel very different from the exercises in your homework. Please collaborate with everyone at your table; working as a group is fundamental learning anything in depth. And don’t worry so much about “getting it done”, but instead focus on understanding what the questions on the worksheet are trying to teach you. The purpose of each question is to make you struggle to come up with a response. If you feel frustrated when struggling with questions, it is important that you try to overcome this feeling of frustration. Struggling is the essence of learning, and it just means that your brain is working to internalize something new.

One   Two   Three   Four   Five   Six   Seven   Eight   Nine   Ten

I only need a single worksheet from each group in the discussion. I recommend you designate a writer in your groups. As for me grading the worksheets, I’ll be looking for explanations for each question as evidence that you learned something. Seeing just calculations is rarely convincing that you really understand the mathematics. And really, each question on the worksheets is asking you for a response, not just some numerical answer. If you really want something concrete to keep in mind while doing them, after each discussion where you have a worksheet I’m gonna look at them and make sure you (1) made a reasonable amount of progress, (2) thought about and applied the guidance and hints I gave during the discussion, and (3) didn’t have any obvious questions or misunderstandings that could have been remedied simply by asking me. And then of course, you can do the worksheets up perfectly and show it to me in my office hours within like a couple weeks for 1.3% credit. But, like, it’s gotta be perfect. I’m gonna have you talk me through the worksheet in office hours.

Discussion Homework

For discussion on Tuesdays, you’ll need to know how to do every problem from the homework that is due that day. I realize that this is a rather tough expectation, but between my office hours and Dave’s office hours and Math Emporium and the help of your peers, you have ample opportunities to get help to understand every homework problem. At the very beginning of discussion I’ll float around and take attendance and ask you if you’ve finished your homework, probably asking about a few questions in particular, and give you credit accordingly. Then for the rest of class we’ll work through a few of the tougher problems. I’ll call out a few students who told me that they did their homework to go to the board to present the problems to the class. It’s okay to struggle a little bit at the board while presenting a problem, but I’ll definitely be thinking about whether you were honest with me when I asked you if you did all your homework.

Well-Written Homework

Please use a paper-clip to secure multiple pages of your homework together, and please don’t use a coversheet. This homework is due each Tuesday in discussion. I’ll give you some feedback on your write-ups, and hand them back to you in discussion on Thursday. Then you’ll revise your write-ups according to my feedback, and hand in a final version of your homework on the following Tuesday. The first version of the homework you hand to me will not be graded, but will only be marked up with feedback. So in the sense of your grade, doing the rough draft is optional. The final draft, on the other hand, will be graded firmly. Your responses to the questions must be correct and thoroughly explained, and it certainly must take into account all the feedback I gave on the rough draft. The actual document you hand me must be presentable: it must have good penmanship, coherent organization, and it must be paper-clipped together (read David’s bit about Homework Quality in his syllabus). Here are the problems in each homework I’m expecting to be carefully written:

And here are the explicit due dates for this homework:

This format for math homework might feel very new to you and take some getting used to. For the problems in each section that have little boxes around the problem-number (there are about two per section) you are to write up very thorough and complete solutions. When writing up responses to the questions, you should imagine that you are explaining the mathematics in your response to a student who is just now starting this precalculus class. Some details they will already know, like how to solve an equation for x, or how to simplify an expression, so you don’t need to explain that. But there are certain details that a beginning precalculus student may not know, and that you should explain. So any beginning precalculus student should be able to easily read your homework and understand how to respond to the questions based on what you’ve written. For concrete examples of what I’m talking about, carefully watch when either David or I work out some example problem in class. Notice that not only are we writing down calculations and math-ish stuff on the whiteboard, but we are also verbally explaining what we are doing and why we’re doing it. I’m expecting to see explanations like these written down for the exercise on this homework.

Personal ToDo for Next Quarte

Here are a few things I'd like to fix or focus on for next quarter.