Identifying similarities and differences are basic to human thought. They might be considered to be the “core” of all learning. Graphic and symbolic representations of similarities and differences enhance students’ understanding of content. Comparing, classifying, creating metaphors, and creating analogies are highly effective in helping students identify (and understand) similarities and differences.
Understand different types of student critical thinking skills: comparing, classifying, creating metaphors, creating analogies Identify and practice effective strategies to directly instruct students using similarities and differences. Teacher-directed tasks Student-directed tasks
1. Presenting students with explicit guidance in identifying similarities and differences enhances students’ understanding of and ability to use knowledge. 2. Asking students to independently identify similarities and differences enhances students’ understanding of and ability to use knowledge. 3. Representing similarities and differences in graphic or symbolic form enhances students’ understanding of and ability to use knowledge. 4. Identification of similarities and differences can be accomplished in a variety of ways. The identification of similarities and differences is a highly robust activity.
“The key to an effective comparison is the identification of important characteristics. These characteristics are then used as the basis for which similarities and differences are identified.” --Marzano, p. 17
Teach comparison and contrast context clues. Comparison context clues use words such as— similar to like, alike akin analogous to comparable Contrast context clues use words such as— in contrast to, contrary to which is different from in opposition to, the opposite of unlike on the other hand
Use a modified INSERT strategy. Have students highlight elements of TOPIC A in one color and highlight elements of TOPIC B in a second. Use a particular symbol to identify similarities and a different one for differences. Have students write margin notes. Model, model, model, model--The use of short passages that students can practice with under teacher guidance during a mini-lesson is very effective.
Activity #1 Locate the article from Educational Leadership “Wired for Reflection” Read the first two sections (introduction and “Putting It into Practice”) You will be comparing paper portfolios and digital portfolios. Complete the graphic organizer in your packet on page 1.
Similarities between paper portfolios and digital portfolios include: paper portfolios The differences between them are: digital portfolios use of technology ease of storage accessibility to a wide audience collections of student work
Activity #2 Locate the article from Educational Leadership “Wired for Reflection” Read the sections “What They Learned About Learning” and “Deep Thinking in the Digital Age” You will be comparing the levels of student reflection available in paper portfolios and digital portfolios. Complete the graphic organizer in your packet on page 2.
Similarities between in the levels of student reflection available in paper portfolios and digital portfolios include: paper portfolios The differences between them are: digital portfolios
“Classifying involves organizing elements into groups based on their similarities. One of the critical elements of classifying is identifying the rules that govern class or category membership.” --Marzano, p. 20
Teacher-Directed Classification Task: The teacher gives the students the elements to classify and the categories into which the elements should be classified. Many of our social studies textbook “concept map” worksheets would fall into this category. Student-Directed Classification Task: The teacher gives the students the items to classify, but they must form the categories themselves. This is more open-ended and is especially good with gifted students. To up the rigor level, have students write out an explanation for why they chose certain categories, what are the “rules” of the category, and why certain items fit where they do. Recommendation: Tell students to stay away from obvious categories such as gender, part of speech, etc.
The key to constructing metaphors is to realize that the two terms in the metaphor are connected by an abstract or non-literal relationship. For example, “Love is a rose” is a metaphor. On the surface, love and a rose have no obvious relationship. At an abstract level, however, they do: LiteralAbstractLiteral Rose: The blossom is sweet to smell and pleasant to touch, but if you touch the thorns, they can stick you. Something is wonderful and you want to go near it, but if you get too close, you might get hurt. Love: Makes you feel happy, but the person you love can end up hurting you.
Element #1 Literal Pattern #1 Abstract Literal Pattern #2 Element #2 The key aspect of this graphic organizer is that it depicts the fact that two elements might have somewhat different literal patterns, but share a common abstract pattern. Using the graphic organizer, students can fill in the elements of a metaphor, the literal pattern for each element, and the abstract pattern that connects them.
Activity #3 Using the graphic organizer in your packet, create a metaphor for any of the following: Choice A: Element #1 = SOL remediation Element #2 = Emergency Room Choice B: Element #1 = Student reflection on work Element #2 = Carnival fun-house mirror Choice C: Element #1 = A blind date your Aunt Edna set up Element #2 = Clearance day at Filene’s Basement
Like metaphors, analogies help students see how seemingly dissimilar things are similar, increasing their understanding of new information. Typically, analogies take the form A:B :: C:D. Analogies are probably the most complex format for identifying similarities and differences in that they deal with relationships between relationships. Examples: Mark Twain : Tom Sawyer :: ___________ : _________ multiplication : division :: ______________ : _________
Directions: Choose a picture from the synectics pile. Find an element of the picture that shares the same relationship as the choices below. Complete the graphic organizer. Choice A: Middle schooler is to hormones as.... Choice B: Middle-aged woman is to personal tropical vacations as... Choice C: Middle-aged man is to red Corvette as... Choice D: Middle child is to attention-getting behaviors as... Choice E: Middle Ages is to Code of Chivalry as...
Ticket Out of the Room: Reflection on Learning Teacher Name: _____________________________________________________ Session: Identifying Similarities and Differences Date: ____________________________________________________________ With respect to our work today, please reflect on the following: 1. What changes might I make in my classroom related to teaching similarities and differences? 2. What support from colleagues, administrators, or resource specialists might I need to make these changes? 3. What was an important “a-ha” from today’s seminar that resonated with me? Why? 4. What questions do I still have about the direct teaching of similarities and differences and its effect on student learning?