One of my 8th graders grabbed a calculator and sat back down at his desk. A moment later I hear, “This calculator smells weird.” I turned to see another 8th grader at his table smelling it to confirm. Made me shake my head and laugh.
So I’ve decided to try some mini 20% Time projects with my 8th graders. We are going to work on them for the month of February, and if they go well, we will do a more large scale version during trimester 3. To start, I had students go online and do a little research as to what a 20 Time project actually is. After a couple minutes one of my boys, who often looks for any excuse to get out of writing anything down, asked me, “Can I take notes?” When I called the class back together he had taken about a half page of notes on what he had learned and shared them with the class. He’s really excited about the project. It’s awesome!
We continued our investigation today about the cost of cloth diapers vs. disposable diapers. As they were calculating prices, one of the students said, “Wow, babies are REALLY expensive! I never want kids!” It made me laugh.
My wife and I are having a baby in less than 2 months, so today with my 8th graders we investigated disposable vs. reusable diapers, to see which one was cheaper over the long run, and when it became a better deal. While they were working, one of my students asked, “Can we write a function for each one and graph it with Desmos?” I replied, “Absolutely!” They love using Desmos whenever possible. It’s very cool that it has become one of their go-to resources.
In 8th grade we’re practicing solving systems of equations. One of my students, who has been struggling the last two weeks and asking a ton of questions, had one of those days where it just “clicked.” She is an incredibly hard worker and her questions and perseverance is paying off big time. She was cruising through problems today, and when I commented on how proud I was of the hard work she’s been putting in, she said, “Thanks, these are easy now. Well, easy-ish.” It was so great to be able to clearly see her progress and how proud she was of herself.
I literally had to stop the students in my 7th period class from shouting at each other as they were debating whether 0 is odd or even. Everyone fully engaged and thinking very critically. Then I told them I’d give them the answer tomorrow. They freaked out. A cliffhanger in math class…awesome!
Today at the beginning of our class, one of my 8th graders, in typical 8th grade fashion, asked me a completely random question. She asked, “Mr. Mahlstedt, do you think you spend more time here or at home?” I replied with, “Well, I sleep at home, so I definitely spend more time at home.” To which she thought for a moment and then replied, “Yeah…but you spend a LOT of time here so I’m not so sure.” I guess they’re starting to notice.
In my 8th grade class we’re working on solving systems of equations. So far they’ve solved them with graphing and guess-and-check, but now we’re moving into solving them algebraically. Today we worked on Andrew Stadel’s “Basketball Shots” problem. Students watched Act 1, then I had them try to solve it with guess-and-check. After a few minutes, when they were plenty frustrated, we created our two equations, and they subtracted one from the other to solve the problem. They all thought they had the correct answer, but just to be sure we graphed it on Desmos. Our answers matched! Finally, we watched Act 3 and saw that we were indeed correct! The algebra, graph, and video all matched up and all was right with the universe. The students were very excited and incredibly proud of themselves for being able to use algebra to solve the problem. It was really great.