Last week my class and I spent time learning about the amazing women of Hidden Figures. We began by watching the movie, and followed up with this lesson I borrowed and adapted from the amazing Max Ray. Hidden Figures is one of my favorite movies of all times. I have watched it countless times, and each time I laugh, I cry, and I am filled with a deep and palpable love and admiration for Katherine Johnson, Dorothy Vaughn, and Mary Jackson.
Each class period our discussions took us in a variety of directions. Each group however, asked why did we treat people different just because of their skin color? We talked about history, we talked about values, and we talked about how things are still not the way they should be. Each day we start class with a spotlight on a famous failure a growth mind-set quote and a character quote. I was proud that my students brought those quotes and ideals into our conversations and collectively decided that if the world is going to change it has to start with us. We know that we must be the change we want to see in the world, and that a smile is the closest distance between any two people. I was heart broken when students shared stories about barriers that they face due to their disabilities, dysfunctional families and just being an adolescent. I was encouraged that they vow that these things will not be barriers in achieving their dreams.
Following our discussions, we engaged in the Mission Control Activity and I mingled and observed. I was pleased to hear most students using the language of mathematicians when instructing their “John Glenn” how to build their control panel. I was also pleased when some did not use this language that others kindly reminded them of the proper way mathematicians speak. I utilized this activity as a formative assessment into my students’ spatial ability, ability to communicate mathematically, and to utilize the vocabulary and ideas of transformations we have been exploring. I noticed that students who struggled the most are the ones who struggle with spatial sense and orientation. I love formative assessments like these that give me usable insight into student thinking and their placement on the learning trajectory while also providing a fun and memorable experience for students! Thursday evening, we had parent teacher conferences, and I had Mission Control and Moon Math set up in my room. It was enjoyable watching students give their parents instructions on how to draw an angle and calculate missing angle measurements. It was also hilarious watching them teach their parents how to talk like a mathematician!
Mission Control in Action: