#SOL22: Complex?

Is it a new task? The novelty from a new task can make it complex.

Is it complicated? A lot of moving parts put together in an unusual order can make it complex.

Is it unclear? More graphics or print can often provide clarity and simplify something that looks complex.

If you saw this page, would you know what to do?


Words: background, with, color and several mixed decimals… 7 different letters serve as labels.

What would be your level of confidence that you could both accurately and efficiently complete the task? Do you know with certainty what the task is?

Let’s try another view: a model.


Could you deconstruct the block in B above and make it with 100% accuracy in 30 minutes?

Or does this page increase your confidence?


Of course, these examples are from my weekend quilting. As I studied the new block that I was to make, I thought long and hard about how the directions both contributed to my success and possibly also to my fear of failure. Which ones were helpful? Which ones were confusing? When was a picture not worth a thousand words?

As I constructed the blocks, I referred less and less to the directions and more and more to a completed model. By the fourth block, I no longer looked at any paper copies. Had I achieved automaticity? It was a fairly simple pattern: a square, three rows on two sides of the square and some flippy corners.

What’s your prediction for your automaticity if this was your task? Which would be most helpful for you: A? B? C? a combination of ABC?

Does everyone learn the same way? Does everyone need the same things? How would you connect this to “learning”? Instruction? Your own life?


Thank you, Two Writing Teachers, for this weekly forum. Check out the writers and readers here.

Screenshot 2019-01-29 at 3.12.16 AM.png

16 responses

  1. My visual spatial acuity is poor – I would get an instant headache trying to decipher the directions.
    My strategy would be to ask someone for help.
    I hope you’ll do a future slice when your quilt is completed. I’d love to see a photo.

    1. Asking for help is a great strategy! This is a KISS block. Every month it’s a different pattern for a quilt club member!

  2. I would need A,B and C. I find C assumes too much. A is detailed but fails to give the big picture. It is helpful to see what you are working toward. I think this is a really interesting exercise, to analyze learning styles through different challenges- here, quilting patterns. Hopefully, many teachers think like this as they instruct. Certainly many students feel like me, and want all the help!

    1. Fran,
      I, too, wanted to see the block or the quilt before the pieces. (whole, part, whole) But lacking that, the challenges do vary!

  3. I want to see A, B, C and to have expert Fran sitting next to me, modeling it first and then allow me to try acting as the guide on the side to step in to assist me with my success. I also want Fran to be thinking aloud during her demonstration as I need to see it and hear it. Yes, so many different ways that we learn. May I use your slice with teachers this year? I love how you broke it down into parts, asking did this help. And having it be about the task of quilting is a great metaphor of learning! So so much I like about this slice! Thanks for sharing.

    1. Sally, of course you can use the slice! And yes to all the supports possible! Missed you last week at institutes. Always learning!

  4. Whew, Fran! My hat is off to you. I love making tshirt and rag quilts because I love the margin for error they allow with all my imperfections. These instructions, even for someone with some sewing experience, look daunting and intimidating. I think what I take from this is that life is complex and things can seem impossible but with the right person to come alongside and teach and guide, it becomes doable, even enjoyable. Thanks for sharing!

    1. So many choices for “assistance” and additional information! And the difference between what I am now thinking of as drudgery vs the joy in a well-executed plan!

  5. For quilting—all three! And a coach. Always in awe of the quilting slicers. I never had the patience to sew with accuracy.

    1. Accuracy in quilting is the difference between the desired shape (square or rectangle) and what results as a parallelogram. So appreciate that there are tools to help with accuracy!

  6. This is so good. It makes me think so much about learning tasks in the classroom. It also reminds me of something Angela Duckworth said on a recent episode of no stupid questions podcast…basically that when citing sources and apa manual is way harder to use than a mentor text in the form of a works cited page from a similar paper.

    1. Thanks, Tim.
      APA – basically any ILA journal. Find something similar. Try it! Approximations unless doctorate or publication requires perfection!

  7. Fran, on many of the quilt shows we watch the experts all agree that you should make a sample block and keep it near for reference, especially if it is a complicated block. Do you by any chance follow Edyta Sitar at laundrybasketquilts.com? On her blog she is doing a mystery quilt. Every week she publishes a new block. Here is the website: https://www.laundrybasketquilts.com/blog/categories/summer-mystery-quilt-2022

    1. Ooohhh. Mystery quilt!

  8. I would need time; and patience! HA!

    I immediately saw a math problem. Give students the images; and paper/fabric. See what they cut. We could then identify and name (fractions). I would then show the quilt section, and have them go back and determine what would have been ‘easier’ — we could relate this to how we understand, really, anything we do in ‘school’. Sometimes the zoom lens has to be in, and then we zoom out. We see the bigger picture as we learn, but understand the parts that make that image.

    Thank you.

    1. So much to think about in a 3 page pattern.
      And several paths t get there.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Steph Scrap Quilts

"Our lives are connected by a thousand invisible threads..."


A meeting place for a world of reflective writers.

Tim's Teaching Thoughts

Ideas and Reflections on Teaching

Hands Down, Speak Out

Listening and Talking Across Literacy and Math

Teachers | Books | Readers

Literacy Leaders Connecting Students and Books

Dr. Carla Michelle Brown * Speaker * author * Educator

We have the perfect words. Write when you need them. www.carlambrown.com

Curriculum Coffee

A Written Shot of Espresso

Mrs. Palmer Ponders

Noticing and celebrating life's moments of any size.


Seeking Ways to Grow Proficient, Motivated, Lifelong Readers & Writers

Doing The Work That Matters

a journey of growing readers & writers


adventures in multiple tenses

The Blue Heron (Then Sings My Soul)

The oft bemused (or quite simply amused) musings of Krista Marx -- a self-professed HOPE pursuing Pollyanna

Middle English

Life as an English teacher leader

steps in the literacy journey

Walking the Path to Literacy Together


Smile! You’re at the best WordPress.com site ever

Resource - Full

Sharing Ideas, Strategies and Tools

Joel Pedersen

be that #oneperson

%d bloggers like this: