To reveal a “missing piece.” A missing piece can be an unanswered questions, areas of
confusion, wonderings about a topic, preferred topics to study. Most commonly
used to deepen understanding.


  1. Cut colored construction paper into pieces to create puzzles. Make sure that
    for each puzzle you have enough pieces that you can hold back one piece (the
    “missing piece”). For example, a group of 4 works with a 5-piece puzzle, but
    they start with only 4 of the pieces. Distribute puzzle pieces to students (all
    but one piece in each puzzle).
  2. Thinking about a topic of study, students write on their puzzle pieces a
    question, concept, or fact they do not understand, or something they find
  3. Students form with others in color-alike groups (e.g., all yellow
    puzzle-piece holders form one group). Group members then respond to each other’s
    questions or statements.
  4. To elicit remaining questions, hand each group their missing puzzle piece
    and ask them to write on it questions their group hasn’t answered.
  5. Teacher, with help from students, addresses the missing pieces with the
    whole group.

Questions to elicit the missing piece:

  • What questions do you have about the test topics?
  • What do you still need to know about geometric shapes?
  • What do you want to know about the planets?


  • Students write on the missing puzzle pieces information or ideas that
    they do understand or find interesting and the class discusses.
  • Students choose topics they know, and teach others.
  • Students research a topic and report back to class.

Puzzle pieces cut from colored construction

20-40 minutes