Robert Marzano in A Handbook for Classroom Instruction That Works had identified that, of all classroom activities, the students benefit most from finding similarities and differences. When the students find similarites and differences, they are using higher level thinking skills.
So how can we use this to make students’ learning more powerful?
In Social Studies, students can compare two countries in terms of their future potential as a world power in a PowerPoint. The students go beyond just copying facts to looking for the different components of a world power.
In English, students can show how the same theme is in two different works of literature through a PowerPoint. They begin to analyze how each theme is presented in the different works and see the variety of ways of expressing this theme.
In Science, students can compare the health of two streams through a PowerPoint. The ph of one stream is a static fact but when it is compared to the ph of another stream, students begin to generate many questions.
In Math, students can show the similarities and differences between various geometric shapes through PowerPoint. When students put a square next to a rectangle, the differences become apparent.
In languages such as Spanish, students can compare the uses of estar and ser through a PowerPoint. By having to contrast these two, they come to see when each should be used.
Students can use the many features of PowerPoint such as arrows, text blocks, colored fonts, and shapes to accentuate the similarties and differences between two concepts. As they dramatically illustrate the similarities and differences, they demonstrate their higher level thinking.
The students’ PowerPoints are robust learning experiences that maximize their learning since the students compare and contrast.
So what similiarities/differences types of PowerPoints have your students done?
© Harry Grover Tuttle, 2007