Leading The Blind

Task 93 ... Years 2 - 8


Mathematical language and visual imagery are the foci of this task. Student A guides Student B (who is 'blind') to place a copy of a shape exactly on top of its original. Students learn that their language needs to become precise (Now turn it. ... No, no the other way!) and, through discussion with the teacher, that mathematical language has developed to add clarity and precision to the natural language that describes problem solving experiences.


  • 3 shape-slides
  • sticky tak


  • geometric language such as line, angle, vertex, rotate, slide, clockwise etc.
  • transformations - slide (translation), flip, rotation
  • development of visual imagery
  • mathematical conversation
Leading The Blind


A task is the tip of a learning iceberg. There is always more to a task than is recorded on the card.

Students will know when they have 'got it', so right and wrong are not an issue in this task. The most important aspect is the development and extension of language that makes the task easier. Teacher involvement in this process is critical and it can be guided by an overall class objective of developing 'our own' mathematical dictionary.

Calculating Changes members can access more detailed examples
in the activity Mathematics Dictionary.

A structure that works in many classrooms is:

  1. Students try one shape-slide, taking turns to be blind.
  2. They are encouraged to discuss and list the key words they needed to help them.
  3. Next they look in the class's mathematical dictionary to see if those words have been listed. If not, they look for words that have a similar meaning.
  4. Further discussion with the teacher to provide opportunity to introduce mathematical terms not yet discovered.
  5. Practise with the other two slides to make use of the language developed.
  6. If other words come up, repeat the discussion/dictionary process again.
  7. Add new words or refinements to the mathematical dictionary.
To extend further provide plastic, pens and card for the students to make a new Leading The Blind challenge for the class collection.
  • What happens if the shape-slide shows a regular polygon, an irregular polygon, a circle, an oval, the outline of a numeral...?

Whole Class Investigation

Tasks are an invitation for two students to work like a mathematician. Tasks can also be modified to become whole class investigations which model how a mathematician works.

Provide each pair with a small piece of card, a small piece of plastic (guillotine overhead transparencies), a black permanent marker from the art room, ruler and a short strip of masking tape. One child draws a shape on the card, then sticks it to the table with a loop of masking tape. The other student traces the shape. Now you have a class set of challenges and they are taped to the tables.

Place the investigation in the context of a social awareness unit of work and explain that you will be investigating two aspects of the needs of the visually impaired, two of which are 'seeing pictures in their head' and communicating using clear language.

  • Develop a whiteboard list of language to describe shapes the students have drawn.
  • Students try 'leading the blind' with their own shape.
  • Extend the language list.
  • Students move on to another pair's table and apply the language to a new situation.
  • Continue to extend the language list.
This process also opens the door to developing the class's mathematical dictionary.

Extend the unit further using your Poly Plug to explore the Braille alphabet which is developed around raised plugs arranged in three rows of 2.

At this stage, Leading The Blind does not have a matching lesson on Maths300.

Is it in Maths With Attitude?

Maths With Attitude is a set of hands-on learning kits available from Years 3-10 which structure the use of tasks and whole class investigations into a week by week planner.

The Leading The Blind task is an integral part of:

  • MWA Space & Logic Years 3 & 4
  • MWA Space & Logic Years 7 & 8

This task is also included in the Task Centre Kit for Aboriginal Students and the Primary Library Kit. Solutions for tasks in the latter kit can be found here.

Green Line
Follow this link to Task Centre Home page.