Good Listening: Shape Spiel

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Students will be able to analyze an image and use geometric terms precisely to describe it.

Big Idea

Students will practice "good listening" as they describe geometric images to their partners.

Good Listening

15 minutes

Because the Common Core mathematical practices require students to construct viable arguments and critique the reasoning of others (MP3), it is important that students learn how to listen to each other.  


    1. Give students silent, individual writing time to reflect on a time when they were NOT being listened to, as well as a time when they did not listen to someone else. 
    2. Ask students to share out stories in groups in a round-robin style
    3. Facilitate a whole class discussion

After students have had a chance to reflect on these moments, they will see that NOT being listened to can be hurtful, making people feel invisible, unimportant, or de-valued.  Additionally, since they themselves have not listened to others at times, they can understand the hurt feelings were often unintended.  The goal is to ensure that all students will try, through their listening skills and body language, to communicate their interest in others' ideas.

During the whole class discussion, I have found it helpful to make a poster of what "good listening" looks like and sounds like.  I also think it's important to share with students the idea of SLANT (sit up, lean forward, ask questions/attentive listening/act interested, nod, track the speaker) so they have tangible ways to think about their body language.

Shape Spiel

20 minutes

In this part of the lesson, students get to practice good listening skills in addition to using geometry terms precisely.  


    1. Pair students up and pass out one image to one partner and another image to the other partner
    2. Give both students 8 minutes of silent writing to describe the image using as much Four-Triangle vocabulary as possible
    3. Have one partner read the description out loud while the other partner tries to draw what they hear.
    4. Repeat the process, switching reading and drawing roles.


    1. The reader cannot answer questions
    2. The reader can only repeat sentences or phrases
    3. When the partner finishes the drawing, both partners should compare the drawing to the given image

While partners are engaging in this activity, I like to circulate the room, taking note of specific examples of descriptions that are helpful to the listener--things like the size and orientation of the image are often quite helpful for the drawer! 



10 minutes

To model what my expectations are I have pairs of students who were able to successfully draw the original image share out about what their partners did to describe the images well enough and precisely enough so the listening partner could draw.  Ideally these successful students mention key points--that they were attentive (not distracted, not zoning out, not talking over their partner) fully engaged, and asked clarifying questions when confused.  If these students do not mention these key points, I highlight these behaviors, which are critical to building our classroom environment.


5 minutes

The homework assignment has a dual purpose. The last problem, plotting points and finding the area of a rectangle, provides students with a connection between Algebra and Geometry and overall the assignment informs me, “like a pre-assessment” about my students’ Algebra 1 skills.