Strategies for Reading Comprehension
Pattern Puzzles
[also known as Mystery Pot]


What Are Pattern Puzzles?
The way pattern puzzles work is this: ideas are mixed up, and students need to sort them out. Or they are arranged one way and we ask them to arrange them another way. This is a thinking activity that combines physical manipulation of pieces with mental manipulation of concepts. It can be an activity undertaken by students individually, in pairs or small groups, or even as a whole-class activity.

How Do They Work?
Imagine small slips of paper on which key ideas on the given topic have been written. They are mixed up and put in an envelope; students are to empty the envelope and sort those ideas into a way that makes sense. Perhaps it is to put them into a hierarchy, by grouping smaller ideas into larger concepts or categories. Or students might instead need to arrange a series of events or steps into a timeline or a process. Or they might be placing individual pieces on a Venn diagram, according to whether they represent similarities or differences. Each of these is a form of organizing; the pattern puzzle activity gives students a way to sort and process, and through repeated approximations (or you might say "trial & error") they can arrive at a logical arrangement of the ideas.



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