What is Compare & Contrast?

Compare and Contrast is used to highlight similarities and differences between to things. It is a process where the act of classification is practiced. It is effectively used in conjunction with indirect instructional methods, but can also be used directly to teach vocabulary signals, classification, nomenclature and key characteristics. It is often presented in either written text paragraphs or a chart. Its most common use is as a graphic organizer of content.

What is its purpose?

Compare and Contrast is used to help students distinguish between types of ideas or group like ideas. It can be used to help students identify language cues, clarify thinking and define ideas.
It can also be used to facilitate indirect instruction through concept formation or concept attainment.

How can I do it?

The most common form of comparison and contrast is a chart. The paper is divided down the middle and the two columns have specific functions. The comparison side is used to list similarities between two things, and the differences are listed in the contrast column. The student typically completes the chart after a form of direct instruction such as reading, listening or viewing. Following the completion of the chart, some form of debriefing is used to help student make generalizations based on the items that fall into each category or column. This debriefing might be discussion, journaling, or any other form of reflective thinking.

How can I adapt it?

Comparison and contrast is a useful method for improving reading skills and listening skills. When students are struggling with finding meaning in either the spoken or written word, a comparison and contrast for specific language tools is a powerful tool. Specific words signal comparative ideas in language. For example in comparison, at the same time, or similarly signal sameness and on the other hand, but, nevertheless yet, however, and in contrast show that things are in opposition. Students can be given a list of words and then use them as cues to pull ideas out a passage. This is a decoding tool that can be adapted across grade and subject.

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