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Ana Parra Martin

MATH LESSON: Tiling a Patio
Student learning objectives:
Students will identify patterns using visual representations and/or tables.
Students will generate mathematical rules to represent relationships using order of
operations and algebraic notation by substituting variables for words.
Students will work backwards, as a strategy to solve algebraic problems.
Target age: 5th grade
Time: 90 min (maximum)
Materials: Worksheets, pencils, small and class whiteboards, markers, projector. If
available, square tiles, grid paper, colored pencils.
1. Introduce the lesson: Tell students that they will investigate patterns and
relationships and get a chance to do a little algebra! Pass out worksheets.
2. Framing of the problem: Mrs. Schmitt is designing patios. Each patio has a
rectangular garden area in the center. She uses black tiles to represent the soil of
the garden. Around each garden, she designs a border of white tiles. The
pictures below show the three smallest patios that she can design with black tiles
for the garden and white tiles for the border.
3. As a whole class: Observe and discuss how many white and black tiles there are
in patios 1, 2 and 3. Record data in a table on the whiteboard/ student handout.

Patio 1

Patio 2

Patio 3

4. Using their handouts and small individual whiteboards, students will work
independently for ~5 min to familiarize themselves with the problem.
Part a) Draw Patios 4 and 5. How many white tiles are there in each?

As a class, record this information on the board to scaffold the use of the
table. Have students come up and draw the patios to show their answer.
5. In small groups, students make observations about patterns they have noticed.
Part b) What do you notice about the patios that could help you describe
larger patios? Do you see any patterns?
As a class: Discuss student observations. Allow students from each group
to share answers and record them on the board.
6. In small groups, students continue to work on the problem.
Part c) How could you find the number of white tiles needed for patio 50?
Part d) Write a rule to find the number of white tiles needed for any patio.
Walk around, pressing them to think about what the bigger patios would
look like and how they could figure it out without drawing them all.
7. Generalization: Discuss student ideas and rules. Record on the board and
encourage students to explain their reasoning to the class, showing how their rules
relate to the visual representations of the patios (and/or the data table).
How can we find the number of white tiles needed if we know the patio
number (or number of black tiles)?
What operation(s) can we use to get from the patio number (or number of
black tiles) to the number of white tiles needed?
Can we use a rule to find the number of white tiles if we know the patio
number (or number of black tiles)?
8. Mathematical expression: How can we write these relationships mathematically?
Suggest building upon unexecuted expressions from concrete examples.
If further scaffolding is needed, suggest writing the rule as an equation,
still using words (i.e. white tiles = 2 x black tiles + 6).
Suggest replacing the words with letters to shorten the equation,
introducing algebraic notation (i.e. w = white tiles, b = black tiles,
therefore w = 2b + 6, or w = 2(b + 2) + 2, or w = 3(b + 2) - b)
Remind students of previous order of operations lesson as they write
their mathematical expressions.
9. If students have different responses, give students time to argue if each others
rules are correct or lacking some criteria. (Can all these rules be correct?)
10. Exploring the variables: What if I have n black tiles (or patio n)?
Students discuss in their small groups first, and then share responses with the
class. Record student ideas on the board.
What operations can help me find the number of white tiles?
Discuss that when working with variables (unknowns), mathematical
expressions will remain unexecuted. You can plug any value in for n
and the rule will work to give you the number of people. This is algebra!

11. Applying the function in reverse: If Mrs. Schmitt has a total of X white tiles, what
is the largest patio number she could make (number of black tiles she could use to
represent the soil of the garden)?
E.g. 276 white tiles (276 6 = 270, 270 / 2 = 135 black tiles) (276 2 =
274, 274 / 2 = 137, 137 2 = 135 black tiles)
E.g. 164 white tiles (164 6 = 158, 158 / 2 = 79 black tiles) (164 2 =
162, 162 / 2 = 81, 81 2 = 79 black tiles)

12. Wrap up: Briefly discuss how strategies used helped us solve the problem.
Drawing pictures and making a table helped us identify the pattern. It is
important to look across the table (input to output), not just down.
Working backwards helped us solve the rule-reversal problem.
Order of operations helped us write and use our rule correctly.
Adaptations: All students will be able to access the task and complete parts a) and b) of
the worksheet. Students can then solve the rest of the problem in different ways, using a
table to look for numeric patterns, or see one of the many relationships between black
and white tiles in the diagram itself. Allowing students some private thinking time will
give them a chance to familiarize themselves with the problem and the arrangement of
the tiles, before joining up for group work. If available, give students square tiles in two
different colors so tactile learners can have a real life visual representation of the
problem. As students work in small groups, walk around checking in with students who
may have a little more trouble.
Extensions: - Find a different rule for the white tiles in any patio and justify why it
works using the visual representation of the patios you have already drawn.
- We have found different ways to find the total number of white tiles in any patio. Can
they all be right? Explain your answer and justify your conclusion. (Hard)
- What about for patio n? What if I have n black tiles?
- Apply the function in reverse: If Mrs. Schmitt has a total of 276 white tiles, what is the
largest number of black tiles she could use to represent the soil of the garden? (135)
- Patios with black tile areas of >1 as their width (e.g. 2x1, 2x2, 2x3). Rule becomes:
w = 2(black length) + 2(black width) + 4
How are students attempting to solve the problem? Are they using visual representations
or tables to see the relationships between the variables? Are they able to identify the
pattern relating patio number, or black tiles, to the number of white tiles? Can they
articulate a clear rule for any patio and justify why it works? Can they express this rule
mathematically? Do they accept the use of letters as variables and can they incorporate
them to express their rule in algebraic notation? Are they able to work backwards to find
the inverse relationship and solve the problem? Walk around as students are discussing in
small groups to identify any difficulties. Collect handouts.