On the first day of Algebra 2 class, students reviewed modeling data with linear functions as they derived the formula to convert from degrees Celsius to degrees Fahrenheit in order to better understand the chilly temperatures reported here at our temporary home in the mountains outside of Quito. In subsequent classes, students created a library of basic functions, including linear, quadratic, cubic, square root, and absolute value functions and investigated how changes to the equations transformed the graphs. Grace, Anne, Caroline, and Lena color-coded graphs to observe patterns and wrote equations to describe functions after transformations were applied. Charlotte, Allie, Maise, and Kate looked deeper into the connections between horizontal and vertical stretching and compression of graphs. On a visit to the Capilla del Hombre museum in Quito, students observed Guayasamin's famous painting, Los Mutilados, which consists of six separate movable panels. After the tour guide's claim that there were more than two million possible configurations for the painting, girls from all math classes worked together to calculate the exact number of possible configurations, agreeing on a total of (6!)(4^6) = 2,949,120 possibilities.
During the first weeks of precalculus, students have worked on individualized plans to meet their needs based on their work done in their first semester. Hannah built upon her previous knowledge of solving systems of linear equations to interpret graphical repsenentations of systems in two and three variables and to solve systems of non-linear equations. She created sketches to illustrate possibilities for solutions to systems of three linear equations in three variables. [[insert images of Hannah's sketches here]] Sophie recalled right triangle trigonometry and applied her knowledge to derive the unit circle definitions of trigonometric functions. The unit circle definitions will provide a foundation for her further study of trigonometry. Erin and Rebecca are developing their mathematical reasoning through investigations requiring them to consider and generate examples of polynomials, observe patterns, and predict behavior of polynomial equations.
The girls of the beginning Spanish class have quickly moved past "Hola" and "Buenos dias" to constructing dialogues to introduce themselves and ask basic questions. In addition to practicing numbers, pronunciation, greetings, and basic expressions in class, girls collect new words in their journals that they learn through immersion experiences each day. Recently, Nancy and Kati from the hacienda's kitchen staff were kind enough to give our class a dual lesson in bread baking and Spanish, with delicious results! Hannah, Courtney, and Rebecca lingered after class to talk to the women more about their families and home towns. Girls are preparing for their upcoming group stay experiences by practicing question words and family vocabulary.
Students started their journalism careers with an assignment on what they might know best: themselves. We challenged ourselves by only having 350 words to summarize our life stories! The girls creatively approached this assignment, recalling first memories, school switches, and tough moments.
“The sunlight beams onto my face and warms my freckled cheeks. The clunky door rises and invites more light and fresh air into the garage. My feet pedal on my tricycle like there's no tomorrow. Suddenly I'm free from the musty, shady garage and the darkness is behind me. I don't know why this memory is my first. Maybe it's a metaphor, for escaping sadness and finding happiness. Maybe it's meaningless. What I do know is that this memory took place in Rhode Island, the place where my childhood took place. On October 1st, 1996, I woke up my mother in the wee hours of the morning with contractions...” - excerpt from Courtney's life story
This assignment ushered in fruitful discussions on the purpose of journalistic writing, and the power of stories that can affect a change in perspective. The essence of news and information gathering dominated our next classes; we've recently begun the process of becoming proficient interviewers. By asking effective questions throughout the semester, we will be able to garner useful information about the stories we want to cover.
Our stay at the Hacienda provided ample opportunity for students to begin mastering their cameras' settings. The girls are dedicated to practicing aesthetic picture-taking, because they are excited about putting together their photo portfolio: one of our final projects in this course.
Guachala is a brilliant location to begin our studies of Advanced Spanish. The students were nervous and excited to begin their first assignment: conversations with folks who live or work here at La Hacienda. They spoke with cooks, guides, and cleaning personnel about various topics, including the minimum wage in Ecuador and life in Cayambe. Sophie was inspired and challenged by an in-depth conversation she had about the educational opportunities available for people of varying economic means. Upon reflection on their preliminary experiences, the girls were bursting with topics to cover in our class this semester: from specific vocabulary to complicated grammar. The girls are dutifully bringing at least three new words to each class, and we are currently jumping into a critical review of past tense verbs.
Julieta, a seven year old girl, was kind enough to teach our class two important lessons. Firstly, she instructed us on a wide array of vocabulary. Secondly, the girls learned how helpful children can be in becoming comfortable with a foreign language! In addition, the lovely women in the Hacienda kitchen were kind enough to teach our class how to cook “tortillas de quinoa,” delicious patties made of quinoa, green peppers, carrots, oatmeal, flour, eggs, cheese, and spices. I am excited to observe how my students' skills and confidence increase during the homestay and immersion experiences that are coming up!