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Comparing and Contrasting

Description 

In order to understand, remember, and retrieve information, students need to be able to organize the information in their minds. Students need to put information into categories, and in order to do so they need to recognize what defines each category, what differentiates one category from another, and what differentiates items within a category. Comparing and contrasting leads students to think deeply about the many facets of a subject, so that they can identify which facets are similar to other subjects, and which facets are unusual or distinguishing.

Benefits 

Through the act of comparing and contrasting, learners are pushed to examine subjects with greater detail and greater subtlety. By drawing connections between subjects, students are able to draw broad conclusions, and also to store information more efficiently and accessibly in their minds. By contrasting similar subjects, learners come to appreciate what makes individual subjects unique or important, and this identification of defining features helps students to remember and recall these subjects more accurately and efficiently.

Content Area Adaptations 

Comparing and contrasting is equally applicable across all content areas. Students can compare and contrast any entities that are related but different: historical figures, mathematical operations, organisms, political movements, poems, paintings, or sports games.

Learning Strategies 

  • Connecting
  • Inferring
  • Predicting
  • Visualizing

Common Core Standards 

  • CCRA.R.1
  • CCRA.R.2
  • CCRA.R.3
  • CCRA.R.6
  • CCRA.R.7
  • CCRA.R.9
  • CCRA.SL.1
  • CCRA.SL.2
  • CCRA.W.1
  • CCRA.W.8

Content Areas 

  • ELA
  • Math
  • Science
  • Social Studies

Learning Strands 

  • Reading

Newspaper Connection

In this activity, inspired by Burke’s The English Teacher’s Companion (1998), students will bring in articles (newspaper, magazine, blog posts) that relate to issues or ideas in the unit of study. Students will work in groups to compare and contrast their articles. The purpose of this activity is to push students to examine content in greater...

Lesson Plan Stages 

  • Reflection
  • Synthesis

Poetry Connection

In this activity, inspired by Burke’s The English Teacher’s Companion (1998), students will bring in a poem that relates to issues or ideas in the unit of study. Students will work in groups to compare and contrast their poems. The purpose of this activity is to push students to examine content in greater detail. When students compare and...

Lesson Plan Stages 

  • Reflection
  • Synthesis

Connection Graphic Organizer

This activity provides a highly structured way for students to identify, organize, and process the connections they make with a text. Students are able to recognize and then categorize different types of connections: to their personal experience, to texts, and to the world.

Lesson Plan Stages 

  • Investigation
  • Launching Into New Content
  • Reflection
  • Synthesis