Saturday, November 13, 2010

Compare and Contrast

We start using Venn diagrams in Kindergarten. Believe it or not, it's a very difficult concept for my rugrats to grasp. I would for example, show them a picture from the city and the countryside asking what they see that's different. Hands go up-their answers:

Student: They are different pictures.
Me: Yes, but what details are different about them?
Student: One is the city and one is the country.
Me: True... but how is the city different from the country?
Student: They are different pictures.

Whew! It's a little exhausting at first. Just because the kids are already labeled GT and have innate abilities doesn't mean they have ever been taught to think critically before. So we do activities like that often; comparing stories, comparing addition and subtraction, comparing how flowers grow to how people grow. However, my all-time favorite is comparing 2 completely unrelated things.

I ask the kids for 2 nouns and write them in either side of a Venn diagram. One we did recently was an elephant and a car. We start with what's different and work our way to what is similar (because that is usually much more challenging). It was funny in this case when they realized both things have trunks. Our class just finished an activity where they made up topics for each other. One student wrote a noun, passed the paper to another student and then the papers were distributed randomly. They had to fill out the Venn.  Some were easier than others, one had to compare a flag to ham! But it really did get them thinking critically and I was impressed at some of the things they came up with.

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