Tall, Dark, and Mysterious


I thought about creating a drinking game, but I can’t very well go to class hung over

File under: 1000 Words, Those Who Can't, Queen of Sciences. Posted by Moebius Stripper at 11:07 am.

Following the emotional turmoil that was marking the precalculus tests, I decided that what I needed was to turn grading predictably miserably-done tests into a fun game.

And so, ladies and gentlemen, I hereby present - precalculus bingo:

Now, even if I lose, I win. I’m almost looking forward to next month’s test!

Update, Feb 16: Someone’s written Calculus Bingo. I’m grading calc tests today, so maybe I’ll play.


  1. Space below question contains nothing but massive question mark

    hahaha! my favourite!!

    closely followed by:
    “i meant to revise this… sorry”

    - Ronald — 2/14/2005 @ 11:26 am

  2. student plugs isolated var. back into same equation

    … They could just be checking their work, you know. :)

    And I’ve gotten calculus students maximizing profits by selling at a negative price. (Because that’s where they sold the most units, you know.)

    But I’m not sure I know what you mean by “flagrant abuse of cross-multiplication privileges”. Are they trying to do that before adding fractions, or what exactly?

    - tabstop — 2/14/2005 @ 1:52 pm

  3. No, plugging the isolated variable back into that equation is no way to check work. All it gives is some variation of 0=0.

    And [above] is exactly what I meant about violation of cross-mult principles.

    - Moebius Stripper — 2/14/2005 @ 5:08 pm

  4. this is too funny.

    i think w/ some nice packaging and marketing, you could sell this game.

    - DisinfectedSoapDish — 2/14/2005 @ 5:49 pm

  5. Well, of course it just gives 0=0. I didn’t say it was a good way of checking work. But at least it’s in some (large) neighborhood of the right way to check work (assuming they get to some numerical answer, and not just a=3b-4 or whatever)…. And for all I know, they were just desperately trying to think of anything to do.

    - tabstop — 2/14/2005 @ 6:21 pm

  6. Well, of course it just gives 0=0. I didn’t say it was a good way of checking work.

    This brings up the question, what do you all think are good ways of checking work? The main principle (verifying your answer in a way that’s independent of the calculations you’ve previously performed, to reduce your error probability by a factor of a square or similar) isn’t too complicated, but I have good students who understand this principle, understand the concepts tested on quizzes and exams, and make a point of checking their answers… but the “check” nevertheless frequently manages to repeat the mistake. This may sometimes be a symptom of insufficient practice, but I’m wondering if there are any good tips I can teach that I’m missing.

    - Dog of Justice — 2/15/2005 @ 3:01 am

  7. Very funny indeed!

    A thought occurs to me: have you ever tried to get them to mark their own work? Sit them in class, swap all the papers, provide worked answers projected on the wall?

    P.S. Your “Add ‘em up: 5 + 9″ didn’t accept “59 of course :-) ” which for *this* post, maybe it should have done :-)

    Maybe they would learn from the mistakes of others…

    - Sharon — 2/15/2005 @ 6:19 am

  8. This reminds me…
    I had some “intelligent” students solving quadratics by factorising… giving them two answers, which they invariably managed to find correctly.
    They then plugged those answers back into the original unfactorised quadratic equation, and - on the basis of mistakes in their checks - rejected one of the correct answers.

    - Ronald — 2/15/2005 @ 7:31 am

  9. I’ve got a few more squares you can throw in there to randomize and make multiple boards..

    “Student gives multiple answers”

    “Unreadable eraser smear”

    “Test page full of doodling”

    “Arithmetic mistake”

    “Student gives answer that makes grader cry” (This could replace the “free” box in your case, I think)

    oh and one you may have a hard time getting:

    “Answer completely correct”

    - Moses — 2/15/2005 @ 1:03 pm

  10. DoJ - I’m not a big fan of rules of thumb in math, but when it comes to checking work, I just tell students to see if their answers satisfy the original question. (So many of them just plug in the values into the third or fourth line, “because it’s easier”. Easier, yes; more reliable, um, no.) But I always get some students who check their correct answers and do the checking incorrectly.

    Sharon - nope, never tried to get them to correct their own work, and I can’t imagine that being anything other than a nightmare: “Teacher, I wrote 2(x+3) and the answer says 2x+6, so I musta gotten it wrong…” Either that, or the alternative - the last bulletted point.

    Moses, I actually do have a lot of students who get answers completely correct. I don’t know if any of them, though, were educated in this hemisphere.

    - Moebius Stripper — 2/15/2005 @ 4:01 pm

  11. I am muchly amused.

    How do you do the “add ‘em up” thing below? (I’m assuming it’s there for the sake of spam filtering.) I have a blog (see link above), I use WordPress, and I have the comment spam from hell. I’d really appreciate it if you could let me know — email to izzycat at gmail dot com.

    - Isabel — 2/15/2005 @ 5:37 pm

  12. I used to play drinking games while grading Computer Science students’ programs. Drink for every infinite loop, etc.

    - David Barzelay — 2/15/2005 @ 11:45 pm

  13. Drink for every infinite loop, etc.

    As an ex-Computer Science student, I think there has been at least one infinite loop in every program I ever wrote.

    - Ronald — 2/16/2005 @ 6:39 am

  14. Well then Ronald, you should take some time and right some code to verify your statement…….. ;-)

    - Marc — 2/17/2005 @ 5:54 am

  15. The Carnival Of Education: Week 3
    We are pleased to present the third edition of The Carnival Of Education. What we have done is assemble a variety of interesting and informative posts from around….

    - The Education Wonks — 2/23/2005 @ 2:29 am

  16. […] topic of teaching intro college math, none has attracted as much sympathy and laughter as precalculus bin […]

RSS feed for comments on this post.

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.