Additional Worksheet


Last year when my students worked on this lesson, I found that there were some who ‘got it’ and others who didn’t. Generally, they didn’t do a great job of reading through the activity guide or really have any idea where to start in terms of breaking down larger images. I created an alternative worksheet/guided notes for a 8 minute lecture that I gave to some groups prior to launching on their own top down design development which seemed to work pretty well. Thought I’d share it here!

Top Down Design Worksheet
Slides to go with it

Did anyone else see anything similar in their classes? What else worked for you?


Thanks for the resources!

I feel the more I teach something, the more I realize my students don’t get something. In a good way, I’m becoming less oblivious to what my students aren’t understanding. This year I started noticing some of my students really don’t get top down design. I haven’t thought of much to explain it to them other than frantically waving my arms and going “…but… but… drawDiamond!.. and… drawSide!.. drawStep!.. what more do you need???”

What I would try is to give them more examples and more concrete examples, but I can’t come up with any off the top of my head that students might relate to. Anyone have any “real-life”/everyday examples?

Also as a side note, many (if not most) of my students initially break down the “snowflake” into a 2 parts - the large “+” in the center and the short lines on each spoke of the “+”. I feel like I need to nudge (shove) them in the right direction by telling them to look for any repetition in the pattern (still nothing) then basically telling them to break it down into the four crosses sticking out in four different directions. I feel like I’m removing the creative thinking process, but I can’t see how their original method helps them in terms of drawing the figure or in terms of achieving our learning objective of learning top down design (or am I wrong about their approach not being top down design?).


This is awesome @madeline_r_burton thanks for sharing. I’m wondering if one of the challenges of working with these puzzles is that we’re asking students to recognize a wide variety of visual patterns. In particular I’m recognizing that “rotational symmetry” is cropping up a lot in the original examples we wrote here. For example, you need to be able to recognize that the sides of the diamond are identical though rotated. The same is true for the snowflake. Do you think this is part of the challenge? That might help brainstorm new and better examples.