Parabolas in Math

This week in math we are working on graphing parabolas and learning about quadratic equations. Today, students played a game called Polygraph Parabola on Desmos, which is similar to the the game “Guess Who?” from my childhood.  Students notice and name important features of parabolas by playing a game with a classmate. One student picks a parabola from a set of 16; the other asks YES/No questions to try to narrow the pool down to one.

It was amazing to see the student’s vocabulary grow and watch as the questions evolved to be more specific using math language such as vertex, x and y axes, and symmetry. Here’s a screen shot of the types of questions that were asking. Students had to identify important features of the graph and then describe these features. Some of the descriptions were in their questions and others got physical and were gesturing across the room to their guesser, using arms and body language to help each other.  It was not only hilarious, but they were also talking and motioning about math! They loved it!

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Mission Challenge #4

Mission teams completed their team challenge #4 today. They were given a set of 20 questions to complete in 30 minutes. They had to decide how they would divide up roles and tasks and then tackle those tasks in the best way possible. For example, in one of the questions they had to learn how to unlock a combination lock, and then decipher a Caesar cipher text to get the combination to the lock. One of the tasks asked them to complete 25 pushups as a collective team. During the debrief students said things like:

“We need to communicate better so we all know who is doing what.”

“We need to clarify roles at the beginning so everyone knows who is doing what.”

“When we were stressed and under the time pressure at the end, we started to get snippy with each other. We can’t do that. We need to stay calm.”

What great reflections on how to best collaborate as a group. This challenge was also a sneak peek at what the actual Mission will be, operating to get a lot done in a limited amount of time.

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SJCU Mockups Shoe Gallery


Yesterday in SJCU we wrapped up our Identity and Community Building Unit by sharing our Mockups Shoe Project in a Gallery Walk. Students placed their shoes around the room and received feedback about what the various symbols on their shoes might represent. All of the shoes had designs and symbols to represent the various areas we explored throughout the unit: core values, family and family history, passions and things held sacred. Last week, students wrote about their designs including examples of how they model their core values, both at school and away from school. This unit focused on understanding and getting to know each 8th grader as an individual and the experience each brings to the class to help create community and lay the foundation for going deeper into our next two units in SJCU: Inequality of Wealth and Feminism.