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TEACHING SIMILARITIES AND DIFFERENCES

Teaching Similarities and Differences Utilizing a Compare and Contrast Strategy: Alexander the Great: Hero or Villain? Robert Murdzev EDU 600 Teacher as Leader 09/13/11

TEACHING SIMILARITIES AND DIFFERENCES

In a recent lesson, which was done as part of a co-teaching assignment, Ms. F and I wanted students to gain a deeper understanding of one of the greatest warriors in human history by elaborating, or adding to their knowledge (Pressley,1988) as cited in Marzano (2001), of Alexander the Great. The assignment was to compare and contrast the two prevailing perceptions of Alexander The Great, whether he was genuinely a Hero, or more of a Villain. The students presented with prior knowledge of Alexander, which they had just finished studying from the week before. This lesson was introduced to further extend their knowledge of Alexander The Great.

The lesson began as a whole group discussion after reading a pro hero statement. Next, the class continued the discussion for a pro villain statement. We displayed an already filled graphic organizer focusing on four main topics of each perception and divided the class into four groups. Care was taken to match certain students according to their strengths and weaknesses in order to try and maximize their learning. Each group was charged with formulating an argument for their particular chosen perception using the already filled graphic organizer and research that was done in the library that afternoon. The following day was reserved for each group to present their arguments to the rest of the class. Willoughby (1997), as cited in Marzano (2001), explains that, elaboration can be enhanced by asking students to explain and justify their elaborations. (p. 74-75). During this process, some students used graphic organizers themselves to help argue their point of view.

This lesson was intended to introduce the process of comparison by presenting

TEACHING SIMILARITIES AND DIFFERENCES

students with highly structured tasks. (Marzano, 2001, p. 17). In retrospect, the students could have been a little tighter with their presentations. They seemed to be all over the place with their ideas and a little vague with their examples. I believe that this was due in part to us, the teachers, not fully identifying the characteristics on which they were to base their comparisons, as Marzano (2001) suggests. (p. 17). We should have maintained the structure throughout the lesson and not confined it only to the beginning of the lesson. The presentations were adequate and the students all took significant risks, considering theyre still getting to know each other and settling in to the new school year. Also, I would have liked to follow up with Ms. F to review the experience and see how we could have improved the process for subsequent lessons. In hindsight, a mini lesson on the use of graphic organizers could have possibly helped the students focus more on the objective. Overall, I believe this was a positive learning experience for the students and the teachers!

References

TEACHING SIMILARITIES AND DIFFERENCES

Marzano, R.J., Pickering, D.J., & Pollock, J.E. (2001). Classroom instruction that works: Research-based strategies for increasing student achievement. Upper Saddle River, N.J.: Pearson Education, Inc.