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'What Shape?' printed from http://nrich.maths.org/
Why do this problem?
This task combines developing geometric understanding with speaking and and listening skills. It supports the development of basic geometric language encouraging children to talk about shapes using the correct mathematical language and accurate descriptions.
also aims to encourage learners to develop their ability to communicate their reasoning and to frame and ask questions. This task requires learners to make sense of their own understanding, be concise and listen and reflect on what has been said. (This is one of a series of problems designed to develop learners' team-working
skills. Other tasks in the series can be found by going to this article
The task is designed to work with teams of four with one chosen, in turns, to find the unknown.
Using a fifth person as an observer means that feedback can be very specific and works well either using another learner or an adult.
are the shape cards.
Allow the teams plenty of time to do the task, allowing every member of the team to take the role of trying to find the unknown.
The observer's role should include checking discussion takes place before an answer is given and keeping track of the number of questions.
When teams have finished working on the task it is important that they spend time discussing in groups, and then as a whole class, how well they worked as a team. They can consider what they have learned from the experience and what they would do differently next time, particularly in terms of how to listen to each other and ensure that all members of the team participate. Your own observations,
as well as those of observers might inform the discussions.
Finish the session by listing the key words associated with shape and space that arose whilst learners did the task.
Why not let us know how the children have got on with their group-working skills by clicking on the 'Submit a solution' link?
- Was there a question that proved really useful in identifying the shape?
- What kinds of questions helped you to identify the shapes most quickly?
- How well did you listen to each other in your team?
- How did you ensure that everyone had a chance to contribute?
You may wish to keep the shape cards hidden from the person trying to find the rule. Learners may like to try one of the other 'What am I?' tasks, which can be found by going to this article.
You may wish to give a copy of the shape cards to the person trying to find the unknown shape so that they have a sense of what they are aiming for. It is also possible to reduce the number of cards, perhaps focussing on polygons. Other team-building tasks can be found by going to this article