In this series, I’m compiling some of the quips and one-liners that I’ll use with my students to hopefully make my lessons more memorable for them.

Every once in a while, when I’m expecting my students to use a formula which is so long that I can’t reasonably expect my students to memorize it, I’ll let my students bring a 3-by-5 card to class. When I tell them this, I tell them the ground rules:

The units of the card should be in inches (as opposed to 3 meters-by-5 meters)

The card can have handwritten notes.

No magnifying glasses.

I then related an amazing anecdote that I heard when I was a teenager: for his German final, one of my acquaintances somehow used his Apple IIe computer and his Epson printer to somehow print in microfiche font. He got all of his notes from his thick German notebook onto one side of a 3-by-5 card and half of the other side, leaving half of the back side blank.

Amazing.

Presumably he brought a scanning electron microscope to class so that he could read his notecard.

Anyway, I tell my students, no magnifying glasses are permitted on exams.

I'm a Professor of Mathematics and a University Distinguished Teaching Professor at the University of North Texas. For eight years, I was co-director of Teach North Texas, UNT's program for preparing secondary teachers of mathematics and science.
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