Teacher resources and professional development across the curriculum

Teacher professional development and classroom resources across the curriculum

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IntroductionLogic PatternsNumber PatternsWord Patterns


Sorting and classifying are important developmental tasks appropriate to students of all ages, beginning as early as kindergarten.

Guess My Button is a classification activity. Students have to identify which buttons have which attributes. As the activity is presented here, students do not necessarily see how the attributes overlap. In the classroom, however, you can show them how the attributes overlap by using Venn diagrams or two-by-two tables.

In addition, students have to choose which question to ask to find the secret button. This engages them in using the process of elimination to keep track of their progress—an important problem-solving strategy.

With reading help provided as needed, this activity is accessible to anyone who can point and click a mouse. The youngest children may not have the experience, or the desire, to try to ask fewer questions. This is irrelevant.

You can also think of this activity as an exercise in taxonomy. You are teaching a classification scheme, specifically for buttons. If you have a biology or outdoor education program in which students use a "tree finder" or a similar classification guide, you can point out its similarities to this activity. You can even have students name the "species" of buttons and make a classification guide of their own. Students will find that different groups can make distinct but equally valid schemes for classifying buttons.

See the overview to Logic Patterns.

Videotape 16 in the Teaching Math K-4 series shows Vivian Gayles's K–1 class in Bakersfield, California, working with buttons. You can find a description of the lesson and additional information on page H-7 of the Teaching Math guidebook.

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