When doing this activity during TeacherCon, my partner and I quickly understood that we needed to see how many different combinations we could make with the 3 shapes provided. We also quickly determined that there would be 27 possible combinations 3 to the third power). What we didn’t immediately see was the pattern in which we could begin building our combinations that would have set the ground work for verbalizing our protocol in an easy to understand manner.
I foresee that my students will stuggle with identifying that the symbols we use to represent numbers are not, in fact numbers, but just symbols and that anything could be used. In addition, I think some of my students will have the same issue I had in identifying a pattern in the combinations. I would definately prompt students to look for a systematic way to build the combinations and then use the pattern to simplify their instuctions. One thing I do when I teach this lesson is to have groups share their instructions with another group (normally across the room so there is less of a possibility of the groups to have heard each other as they worked through the combinations) and to see if the groups can follow each other’s instructions (protocol) to build the combinations (pattern).