Reflection: Planning/Time Management

As a Teacher

  • Pre-Calculus
    • Lesson Planning is taking a lot less time this time around, since I spent a lot of time documenting the lessons from last year. Over-planning was actually an issue last semeseter; I would never actually complete everything I planned, and that was mildly frustrating. Also, there’s an element of improvisation that happens depending on the mood of the classroom, which means that scripting every sentence is simply not possible anyway.
  • Calculus II
    • The first two weeks I only prepared by rereading the text on the sections that the lead professor went over, but on the second week students asked me questions that definitely stomped me because I had not seen the problem before hand. Now, I ask students to email me their questions before the TA session, so that I can prepare with care. Planning short lectures on Calculus II material has been easier after that change in preparation, especially with access to great tools.

As a Student

  • Algebra
    • I’m really glad to be practicing with SAGE, but I’ve honed in on specific problems and end up spending significant time cleaning up code instead of doing proofs. I need to find a balance in what I’m focusing on when learning.
  • Real Analysis II
    • I should really be spending more time on this course. The lectures in this cource has been a blessing for preparing for Calculus II TA sessions, since it helps get me into the “mood” to do Calculus. ūüôā
  • Combinatorics
    • Obsessing over the details in this class takes too long. I’m in a similar situation with Algebra, but there’s this one is more like I spend 4-5 hours on one proof and run out of time for the other problems.

There’s a lot of juggling, and I have to get better at this soon before the midterm season.

Precalculus Resources: Spring 2017 Midterm I Review (Section 0.1 – 2.2)

I have gathered quizzes that relate directly to the upcoming midterm, as well as included a sample midterm. Please feel free to use these for practice! If you have trouble with the material, visit this page for additional resources. Don’t forget to grab a free version of¬†wolfram alpha pro to help you if you’re enrolled at San Francisco State University!

Quizzes #1 – #4:

Practice Midterm:

Notes: Modern Algebra II

I took Modern Algebra II with Professor Matthias Beck in Spring 2016. These comprehensive notes were compiled using lecture notes and the textbook, David S. Dummit & Richard M. Foote, Abstract Algebra (3rd edition), Wiley 2004. [errata]

Please feel free to download and print these notes for your convenience.

Featured Image: Icosahedron and dodecahedron Duality
Credit: Images from Algebra: Abstract and Concrete by Frederick M. Goodman

Disclaimer: my notes are meant to be a toolbox while doing proofs and studying/practicing the course in general. There may contain typos or mistakes. Please feel free to let me know if you find any errors!

Topics Covered:

  • Review of basic properties of groups and rings and their quotient structures and homomorphisms,
  • group actions,
  • Sylow’s theorems,
  • principal ideal domains,
  • unique factorization,
  • Euclidean domains,
  • polynomial rings,
  • modules,
  • field extensions,
  • primitive roots,
  • finite fields.

San Francisco State University Math Resources: Mathematica & Wolfram Alpha Pro

SF State has a site license for Mathematica. Under this site license, Mathematica can be installed without further cost on any computer owned by San Francisco State University, by SF State faculty, or by SF State students. This software works on Windows, Macintosh, and Unix.

Under the terms of the site license negotiated by CSU, free WolframAlpha Pro accounts are also now available to our faculty, students, and staff.

If you are an SFSU student, click here for a free WolframAlpha Pro account.


If you are a SFSU student and you want to download the Mathematica software to your computers, then follow the instructions below:

    1. Create an account (New users only):
      1. Go to and click “Create Account”
      2. Fill out form using a email, and click “Create Wolfram ID”
      3. Check your email and click the link to validate your Wolfram ID
    2. Request the download and key:
      1. Fill out this form to request an Activation Key
      2. Click the “Product Summary page” link to access your license
      3. Click “Get Downloads” and select “Download” next to your platform
      4. Run the installer on your machine, and enter Activation Key at prompt

For both Mathematica and WolframAlpha Pro requests on the links above, it is important that only email addresses be used. Requests from other email addresses will be rejected.

Precalculus Resources: Intro & Review of Functions

In the first couple of chapters, Dr. Axler covers the properties of real numbers, and gives a throughout exploration of functions in his textbook for Math 199 (Precalculus at SFSU).


You can take the file to a print shop to have directly printed and cut for you, or print it double sided on regular paper and cut + paste onto index cards. Get creative!

Helpful Khan Academy Videos:

More resources to come!

Reflection- Group Work: Size & Clarity

I’m wondering how group activities can be done with 40+ students; I often give short, paired activities during lecture, which (hopefully) helps with engagement, but if I want to give a longer “exploration” activity in class, there are challenges.

Group Size

Checking in with each group is takes a significant amount of time, scaling linearly. I tried to keep group size to 3-4 students, but dividing students into groups of 4-5 lead to having about 8-10 groups. The down time caused some groups to finish faster than others. There must be an optimal ratio for the number of students to square foot of classroom. I currently have 40 students, but the rooms are a lot smaller than the previous semester, I must alter the group activity plans. I also had 80 minutes sessions on Tues/Thurs instead of 50 and a much larger classroom for discussions/group work in the 4th hour. My lesson plans will require more adjustments, I suspect.

Some groups had members forging ahead before everyone understood, and that’s always a challenge as well. I wonder if larger groups are a good idea, because conversations between more than 5 students often turn to a few pairs and few solo working in parallel…

Clarity: Instruction and Feedback

This time around, when I lead the group activity I focused on the clarity of my instructions, and I’m trying a different approach this semester compared to last. Previously, I gave handouts with specific procedure, but it was confusing for some students. This time, I tried a different approach, where I  verbally and visually give instructions on the board and forgo all printed handouts in order to allow for students to make their own notes instead of using data sheets. I think I might bring back the data sheet for the later activities, so that the students can know what I specifically expect from them. I should specify that students should use technology to assist in graphing and calculations.

In terms of feedback, I tried to ask questions and check for understanding, but the number of groups is high, which means I must spend less time per group, or make the group size larger. If I maintain that the groups have no more than 5 people, then I will have at least 8 groups – which can cause my feedback to the students to be less precise and more brief. Perhaps I can take a vote with my students, to see if they prefer trying larger groups, given the challenges above?

Looking back, I admire my high school teachers who managed to deal with 30 students at a time, and were able to conduct experiments in labs, with open flames, too.