Are you using workshop-style lessons in your middle school math classroom? If you're not you should: they are easy to prep for, allow for differentiated learning, and instant assessment.
If we want our students to actually learn the facts, concepts, and ideas we’re trying to teach them, they have to experience those things in some way that rises above abstract symbols on paper. They have to process them. Manipulate them.
To really learn in a way that will stick, they have to DO something. Workshop-style lessons facilitate this for all types of learners.
Describing patterns is part of many states math standards. This Hands-on activity uses Cuisenaire Rods to make learning meaningful. This exploration can be adapted for grades 6 - 8 with optional extensions for added flexibility and differentiation. This lesson takes approximately 1 class period to complete. It may be extended into 2 class periods with extension topics and further discussion.
The problem in this exploration is intended to encourage student' to explore a recursive pattern and to introduces middle school students to the concept of representing patterns using a general form (using variables) which lays the foundation for algebraic thinking. This lesson plan begins with a hands-on exploration and uses the concrete-pictorial-abstract learning progression to use a pattern to make and justify mathematical predictions.
This lesson also lays the foundations for recursive patterns which are introduced in later grades.
The Lesson Plan includes "Questions to Encourage Thinking" and opportunity for Student Reflection for all you Bloom's and DOK fans.
* Apply mathematical problem-solving techniques to recognize patterns
* Describe relationships within the pattern using general rules
* Use the pattern to draw conclusions or justify predictions
Satisfies Common Core Standards
Write, Read, and evaluate expressions in
which letters stand for numbers
Understand that rewriting an expression in
different forms in a problem context can
shed light on the problem and how the
quantities in it are related.
Describe qualitatively the functional
relationship between two quantities by
analyzing a graph (e.g., where the function is
increasing or decreasing, linear or nonlinear).
Sketch a graph that exhibits the qualitative
features of a function that has been
This activity was also designed to assess MYP Criterion B: Investigating Patterns and Criterion C: Communication of Mathematics.
To adapt for 8th Grade I recommend pairing this with 4 Tools to Describe a Pattern.