For example, the Common Core State Standards for Mathematics call for kindergartners to learn to “analyze and compare two- and three-dimensional shapes, in different sizes and orientations, using informal language to describe their similarities, differences, [and] parts.” By third grade, students should be able to “understand that shapes in different categories … may share attributes … and that the shared attributes can define a larger category.”
Explicit instruction of making comparisons involves calling attention to the steps of noticing similarities and differences and identifying key attributes that might be useful in classification.
Consider these examples:
- “What makes this circle different from this square?”
- “You can tie a bow or take a bow. Both words are spelled the same, but they sound different and have different meanings. Who can think of some other words like this, and can anyone tell us what these words are called?”
- “How can we use what we know about these animals to figure out their classification in the animal kingdom?”
- “What is different about the time and place where these characters live compared to your life? What is the same?”