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Be a Strategic Teacher!

Compare and Contrast

Marzano, Pickering and Pollock found that teaching students how to identify similarities and differences is the single most effective way to raise achievement. One reason that comparison strategies yield such high levels of achievement is that the human ability to compare is one of our cognitive endowments. Humans love putting things in pairs - pass us a fork and we look for a knife, show us a setting sun and we'll try to find the rising moon. This tendency to see the universe in sets of matching pairs has several advantages.


  1. It increases our memory capacity. Two ideas linked together last longer than two ideas standing alone.
  2. It lets us use old knowledge to make sense of new knowledge. For example, one way to figure out how the atmosphere works is to make a comparison by asking, "How is the atmosphere like a blanket of air?"
  3. It helps us find connections and create new ideas.
  4. It makes the invisible (or abstract) visible, the confusable (or easily mixed up with other content) clear, and the neglectable (or easily overlooked) unavoidable.

How to Use the Strategy

Page 75 - 81 of The Strategic Teacher

How to Use the Strategy

Planning a Compare and Contrast Lesson

Why Strategies Fail...and What We Can Do About It

Organizers for Compare and Contrast

Variations and Extension

Questions to Spark My Creativity

?1. How would I classify myself when it comes to my current use of the Compare and Contrast strategy? (frequent - occasional - rarely - never)

?2. Have I done something in the past or present that looks similar to what I see in the videos?

?3. Can I embed this strategy into next week's lesson? How? What would be my measure of a successful attempt at this strategy?

Compare and Contrast Key Features of Functions - Kara Leaman, Unity High School
Compare & Contrast Strategy
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SAT Critical Reading: How to Answer Questions on Paired Passages | Kaplan Test Prep