Building Academic Language w/ a Desmos Box & Whisker Polygraph

Before school ended, I had the pleasure of running a Box & Whisker PolygrapCaptureh created by 2 colleagues, Tim Rochester and J.J. Martinez in Carmen’s 6th grade classes.  She had not yet introduced Box & Whisker Plots.  Afterwards, I brought the activity to Peytra’s 6th grade classes. The following is a summary of what happened in both classes.

Round 1:

Word Bank: Box, Whisker

To introduce the activity (& topic), I drew a box & whisker plot on the board and labeled the box and whiskers.  Carmen and I then required students to use the vocabulary of box & whisker within their questions.

We circulated the room, monitoring students, reading  questions and pointing out opportunities into integrate vocabulary. When students were comfortable using the given word bank, we introduced more vocabulary.  First, by adding labels to the box and whisker diagram that was on the board.  Second, by requiring them to use the new words within their questions. 

Below is a color coded box and whisker plot diagram.  Each color represents another vocabulary round.

Screen Shot 2016-06-14 at 2.38.29 PM.png

Round 2:

Work Bank:  Median,  Box, Whisker

Screen Shot 2016-06-14 at 2.47.24 PM.png

Round 3:

Word Bank:  Median, Maximum, Minimum, Box, Whisker

Round 4:

Word Bank:  Lower & Upper Quartile, Median, Maximum, Minimum, Box, Whisker


Closing Thoughts

We did have a student who only spoke Spanish.  Many of the students in this class are bilingual, therefore Leo was able to fully participate.

Screen Shot 2016-06-14 at 2.45.08 PM

Day 1:  Box and whisker plot vocabulary was discussed.

Day 2: Carmen expanded the discussion to include finding the value of each vocabulary word.

Carmen and Peytra’s students were fully engaged in playing Polygraph.  

Time well spent!!


  • Click here for other Polygraphs
  • Click here for Desmos’ Ploygraph site

About jgvadnais

Instructional Technology Coach. Desmos Fellow. Google Level 1 Certified. SoCal transplant. New Englander at heart. Lover of yoga, dogs, green smoothies and coffee creamer
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6 Responses to Building Academic Language w/ a Desmos Box & Whisker Polygraph

  1. Pingback: Duluth Desmos Training – saravanderwerfdotcom

  2. Thanks for the great teaching technique! It’s crazy that you’re going over this in 6th grade, because I taught it more recently to high school students.


    • jgvadnais says:

      Thank you for reading! Yes, in 6th grade box and whisker plots are part of our statistics and probability domains. They used to help students understand the measure of center and variability within a set of data.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. ekabekeko says:

    Boxplots my favorite subject :)))
    jenn with you are students usually fully engaged. Really cool!
    It’s very interesant with Spanish students. How do you do that actually in such cases? It would be hard to translate all the lessons .


    • jgvadnais says:

      Always fully engaged? Being a math coach, the goal is to work with teachers to create and run lessons that engage all students. We are constantly reflecting and adapting to reach that goal. Lessons don’t always flow as planned. 🙂 They’re always a work in progress. By the time I get to the blogging point, we’ve ironed out most of the kinks.

      A common practice is to pair up a Spanish only speaking student with a bilingual student.


  4. Pingback: Desmos Polygraph Extension Task | Communicating Mathematically

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