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Detect And Articulate Patterns


What can I infer about the relationship among the members of the set?

Find the similarities and extend them to other cases.

Time To Complete 

2-3 Hours

Content Areas 

  • Math

Common Core Standards 

  • CCSS.MP.6
  • CCSS.MP.7
  • CCSS.MP.8

I Can Statements 

I can:

  • Correctly identify the pattern and extend it to make predictions.
  • Quantitatively describe the pattern using appropriate and accurate mathematical language.


I will know my detection and articulation of patterns is of high quality when it:

  • Correctly identifies the pattern and extends it to make accurate predictions.
  • Quantitatively describes the pattern using appropriate and accurate mathematical language.


Suggestions for Assessing Student Readiness to Move Forward:

  • Confer with students, reviewing their pattern detection and articulation to ensure they meet the requirements of the assignment, purpose, and audience.
  • Ask students to use rubrics or checklists to self-assess their work and develop a plan for revision.
Possible Activities 
  1. Help students identify, or provide, similar, simpler problems. As they work through them, ask them to record their process, then to apply that process to the more complex problem.

  2. Pair students. One student draws the problem or data set, even if this is only a mechanical copying of what is on the page. As the student draws, they think aloud about what they notice. Their partner records, takes notes, or summarizes the think aloud.

  3. Ask students to describe the sequence of numbers, expressions, etc. verbally or in writing without using numbers or number words.

  4. Ask students to draw the data, sequence of numbers, expressions, etc. or use manipulatives (such as coins, sticky notes, or other common objects).

  5. Ask students to describe what they see without using numbers or mathematical terms, then make inferences based on their observation. They should then recast their description using mathematical language.

  6. Students can work together to complete a word or card sort: http://www.redesignu.org/design-lab/learning-activities/closed-and-open-word-sorts

  7. If two students see two seemingly different patterns, they can both be brought to the board to explain their thoughts for the rest of the class to discuss and determine whether the two patterns are different or just different ways of seeing the same pattern. 

  8. Provide students with sentence starters for exploring the problem or sets.

  9. Provide students with both examples and non-examples and ask them to sort them and record their strategies and processes as they do so. Once they are sorted, ask students to reflect on the process and strategies they used.

  10. As students come up with wrong answers or make missteps, share them with the class using ‘My Favorite No’: http://www.redesignu.org/design-lab/learning-activities/my-favorite-no

  11. Explore WolframAlpha’s Pattern Finder Widget. Ask students to generate and test their own patterns to see if it always works. (http://www.wolframalpha.com/widgets/view.jsp?id=d9976f1c2c0c972d1cee0c3647cbd194)  ​

Downloadable Resources 
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