Comparing and Contrasting

In my writing across the curriculum class last spring, we read through Dean's Classroom Instruction That Works, 2nd Edition. Chapter 8 talks about the importance of identifying similarities and differences through comparing/contrasting, classifying, analogies, and metaphors. I do classifying through my sorting activities throughout the year so I skipped that one for today.

I started class by asking students to get in groups of 3 and then choose 3 objects. I meant to take a picture of my objects but I forgot. I used all my 3d solids, a sock, a penny, dice, eraser, screw, chalk, ruler, bean bag, etc. Just random things I found around the classroom.

Then I projected a 3-way Venn diagram and asked students to name 3 random celebrities. We went through the process of comparing each pair and then all three. I used that as a model before then asking them to do the same things with their random objects and no switching!
Also, don't forget to have students write one unique trait of each object as well.

Next I asked each group to trade with another group and check their responses for accuracy. Anyone could disagree but each group had to defend their answers.

From there, students went on to complete the analogies and metaphors section of the worksheet.

First they had to fill in the analogies based on the relationship and we discussed the relationships as well. Then they had to finish the analogy on their own that had the same relationship. Most missed was prince is to princess as hero is to heroine.

After that, students answered common metaphors and wrote the meaning behind them. This was interesting to hear everyone's different versions. Most missed was a rose between two thorns. Not the meaning, just literally students hadn't heard that metaphor although I tried to pick the most common ones I could find.

Finally, the worksheets end by asking students to develop a relationship between two seemingly unrelated objects. Definitely take the time to hear a variety of responses- it's so interesting to see how different people think. I read the first one, comparing a garden to a rainbow in the book, but the rest I made up on my own. It wasn't as easy as I thought!

I brought them back again to the question, what does this have to do with math? A few people remember my spiel from yesterday on dendrites but for the most part they seemed clueless again. I emphasized that we are always looking for way to build connections and find relationships in order to think more deeply about mathematical concepts. Again, this is a precursory introduction to a skill that will be used throughout the year. (I even made a washed out watermark of a dendrite on the worksheet!)

The activity ended with a few minutes left over so I challenged students to think of two objects that they thought had absolutely nothing in common. They tried but someone always had a quick response. Finally someone said that you could find a relationship between any two things- I definitely pounced on that remark! I said they now have no excuses during the year when we are trying to compare mathematical concepts. Classwide groan ensues.

By the end of the day, the winning two objects were whip cream and a school bus. It remains to be seen if anyone can figure out a relationship...

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