The repeating part of a pattern
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Overview
Using this Resource
Connecting to the Curriculum
Marking Student Responses
Working with Students
Further Resources
This task is about finding the repeating part of a pattern.
Task administration:
This task can be completed online or with pencil and paper. If completed online, some automarking will be displayed to students.
Level:
2
Curriculum info:
Keywords:
Description of task:
Students identify the repeating part of patterns.
Learning Progression Frameworks
This resource can provide evidence of learning associated with within the Mathematics Learning Progressions Frameworks.
Read more about the Learning Progressions Frameworks.Answers/responses:
Y4/5 (03/2017)  
a) 
Explanations that show an understanding of the minimum repeating unit of the pattern, e.g.
There were four parts in the pattern before it repeated.

difficult 
b) 
Explanations that show an understanding of the minimum repeating unit of the pattern, e.g.
The pattern stops there and starts again.

difficult 
c) 
Explanations should include a reference to extrapolating the pattern beyond what is presented in order to work out what the minimum repeating unit of the pattern is.

very difficult 
2 questions correct
All 3 questions correct

very difficult
very difficult

Based on an online sample of 30 students.
Teaching and learning:
This resource is about recognising the minimum repeating unit of a pattern.
All three patterns have two attributes to consider  type of shape and type of shading.
Using patterns with two attributes begins at early Level 2 and by the end of Level 2 students should be able to use two attributes in a range of different scenarios (patterns, sorting attribute blocks, sorting geometric shapes, etc.). What underlies these attributes is whether students can identify a more complex minimum repeating unit of the pattern.
In the first and second patterns the minimum repeating unit of the pattern is given whereas the third pattern needs to be continued in order to work out the minimum repeating unit.
Diagnostic and formative information:
Common error  Likely misconception 
a)
b)
With an accompanying explanation such as Its the same pattern or it looks the same or because we can see it is the same pattern as the top

Students select the pattern that is closest in length to the one given in the question rather than identifying the minimum repeating unit from within the pattern.

c)
With an accompanying explanation such as That's the whole pattern or that what it shows on top (sic) or it matches the pattern or it has the same shapes and it is as long as the pattern up the top 
Students select the pattern shown in the question rather than extending the pattern to find the minimum repeating unit. 
Next steps:
Students select the longest pattern
To help students discover what the minimum repeating unit is, ask them to continue the pattern and get them to state each time how they know what the next shape will be. Encourage them to identify when the pattern starts again and to circle the part of the pattern that is being repeated.
Describing the shapes aloud as they continue the pattern can help students recognise when the pattern starts again, especially when a shape alternates between being white and being shaded.
Students select the given pattern
In order to work out the minimum repeating pattern for part c) students must continue the pattern beyond what is shown to work out when it starts again.
Students can use attribute blocks or other similar physical objects to practise repeating patterns with two attributes (shape, size, colour etc).
The resources Repeating patterns (Level 1, 2), Shape patterns (Level 1, 2) and Bag of shapes (Level 2) provide opportunities for students to explore simpler repeating patterns.
Continue the patterns (Level 2, 3) is a task requiring students to identify two attributes in repeating patterns.
The Level 3 resources Repeating bead patterns and Repeating bead patterns II explore how the understanding of the minimum repeating unit (or 'set' or 'chunk' as it is referred to in these resources) leads to developing rules for patterns and using those rules to find the shape in a given ordinal position.