Compare and Contrast

April 9, 2011

I watched  a live stream from the 2011 ASCD conference that really inspired me in the classroom. It was presented by Harvey Silver of Silver, Strong and Associates, and it is well worth watching.  The title of his presentation was the Strategic Teacher.

The presentation consisted of two parts, the first on using the strategy of compare and contrast. Powerful is a mediocore adjective to describe  it.  It made so much sense that I couldn’t wait to apply it.  I took his principles and applied to the NYS ELA test coming up in May.  In Book 3 they present two related readings to the kids coupled with a graphic organizer, two short response and an extended response.  Quite often the extended has presented the similarity of the two and gives them the task of which would they prefer, a lifestyle, a way of helping, a lesson etc.  So, what I did was take the c/c strategy and applied to the persuasive/opinion part of the test.

Often, myself included, we make a quick a decision without analysis.  My task was for students to recommend either the story of “Perseus” from Bernard Evslin’s Heroes, Gods and Monsters or the movie version Clash of the Titans also about Perseus.  The results were remarkable.  Probably these were the best 5 paragraph essays I have read consistently in years.  Not only were they great, but the percentage of students completing the assignment blew me away.  It made sense to them.

Next Step:  I am going to do it again this week on the topic of Heroes.  Also, I am going to explore how to use this strategy in multiple choice questions.


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