I begin today by drawing a series of pictures on the Smart Board. I draw a kite, a balloon, a hot air balloon, an airplane, a smiley face and a sun. (I am no artist but I draw my outlines enough that students know what I am drawing.) I ask the children what the pictures have in common. I tell students that they can group just 2 things together, or 3 or all. A child might group the balloon, sun and smiley face because they are all round. I take 5 or 6 explanations of what students see as commonalities. I expect that students will notice function of the objects, similar shapes, beginning letters of the names of the objects, etc. . I have them point out the things they notice. I am hoping that students can think flexibly and notice more than one way to group the objects and explain why they grouped those objects together (construct a viable argument for why certain things can go together - MP3)
I tell students that today they will be looking at several shapes and each person will have a turn to group some of the shapes based on a single attribute. The rest of their group will try to figure out that attribute.
I pass out 9 shapes to each group. The shapes include regular squares, rectangles and triangles, some shapes colored in and others that are plain, and a series of shapes that are similar to squares, triangles or rectangles but have at least one curved edge.
I circulate around the room during the activity to listen to the kinds of classifications that students are using.
I give students old magazines and a large piece of paper. I ask them to draw 3 large circles on the paper. I show them how the 3 circles will overlap to make a Venn diagram. I tell students to pick 3 attributes such as a color, a shape, a size or a purpose (something to write with, etc.). I ask students to cut out pictures that have some of attributes they have labeled.. If the picture they cut out has all 3 attributes, they would place it in the middle where the circles overlap, if it only has one of the attributes it would go in that circle only. If it has 2 of the attributes it would go in the overlap of those 2 circles.
I demonstrate this and then when students have no more questions I let them begin their own attribute pages. I circulate around listening to the kinds of attributes that the students are finding and to watch how they are sorting their pictures.