This month for Thursday Tool School, I am featuring graphic organizers. Last week, I introduced how Venn diagrams can be used to encourage critical thinking. Missed this fun post? Check it out here!
This week, I want to continue with the theme of graphic organizers. However, today’s activity involves using Venn diagrams to discriminate and analyze the features of shapes. I’ve written about this activity before because it’s my favorite way to use Venn diagrams and it creates a fun and engaging way to use this versatile graphic organizer. This activity can be used year round and makes a great starter activity, especially during your geometry unit. The only prerequisite skills needed are some basic vocabulary terms related to shapes, i.e. sides, angles, congruent, equal, parallel, perpendicular, etc.
Here’s how the activity works:
1. Display a Venn diagram on a white board or wall programmed with shapes. Note: Pattern blocks work great for this activity and are generally an
accessible resource for most teachers. Want to make it even more content specific? If you’re curriculum requires a focus on specific shapes, include them. See the example to the right for a Venn diagram programmed to help Texas fifth graders differentiate between quadrilaterals.
2. Ask the students, “What’s the common attribute?”
3. Provide think time.
4. Ask students to “turn and talk” to a shoulder partner, face partner, neighbor, or classmate to discuss the answer.
5. Have students share their responses with the class.
Important questions to ask:
a. What vocabulary is important here?
b. What’s the common attribute of the left side?
c. What’s the common attribute of the right side?
d. What’s the common attribute of the shapes in the middle, or the intersection, of the two circles?
e. Why is there a shape on the outside of both circles? What does this mean? (It is a part of the set but does not meet the inclusion criteria for either circle.)
Once students get the hang of the activity, have them create their own puzzlers– great menu activity. Using their creations, you validate your students as mathematicians and sense makers and expand your pool of puzzlers.
Sound Off! How might you use Venn diagrams to challenge your students?