Identifying Similarities and Differences is a teaching strategy that uses the concepts of comparing and contrasting knowledge so that students can better understand the subject matter. The specific strategies inside this category are comparing, classifying, creating metaphors and creating analogies (Dean et al, 2012). Comparing is when students differentiate subjects based on their similarities and differences. Classifying is when students divide the subject matter into categories based on their similarities. Creating metaphors is when students can find patterns among the subject matter and relate them to similar patterns that they are aware of. Creating analogies is when students pair together concepts to better understand the components of the knowledge (Dean et al, 2012). The main recommendations for implementing the strategy of Indentifying Similarities and Differences is to first show students how to correctly use this approach, then allow time for them to practice while also guiding them through the process with cues and questions (Dean et al, 2012).
Key Research Findings:
- With curriculum that is constantly changing and growing, this is a flexible approach that allows students to make connections with what they are learning in the classroom to the world around them (Dean et al, 2012).
- This approach can be useful in teaching students with learning disabilities because it helps them categorize the world around them (Tarver, 1986).
- Teachers can utilize technological resources that allow students to visually identify similarities and differences through computer software programs (Pitler et al, 2007).
- Guide students through this approach by first modeling what you would like students to do. Do this with different examples until students feel confident to utilize the strategy themselves.
- Provide students with visual organizers such as Venn diagrams or charts so that they can see the relationships that the information creates.
- Allow students to identify similarities and differences in collaborative small groups while giving them corrective feedback.
- When possible, ask students to summarize information so that they can draw conclusions from this strategy’s outcomes.
- Use student directed tasks and teacher directed tasks so that students can practice both elements of this approach.
- Use this strategy when introducing concepts that may be foreign to students and allow them to apply a creative process to it. An example from Video Production classes that I have taught is applying this strategy when teaching students the difference between good and bad cinematography.
- For descriptions of teacher directed and student directed tasks, go to http://www.pavilioncsd.org/webpages/mnoble/research-based.cfm?subpage=1250793
- The process of Identifying Similarities and Differences can be a visual process where students divide their thoughts through the medium of a chart or diagram. To download blank templates that can be utilized in classrooms, go to http://edweb.tusd.k12.az.us/Templates/similarities_differences.htm
- This strategy gives room for students to contemplate key knowledge while also applying their unique views and creativity. An example of this can be seen in my graphic design students’ work where they were asked to pick an everyday word or phrase, which contains different components and then making a visual representation of it (see examples below).