To help students better understand life's big ideas (called concepts in the PYP), we have students make comparisons in the subject areas of language, math, social studies, science, arts, personal, social, and physical education. As students examine how things are similar and different, they have to use their thinking skills of comprehension, application, analysis, synthesis, and evaluation. Thinking in this way allows students to internalize conceptual understandings that they otherwise wouldn't be able to, without making these comparisons.
A helpful tool students can use to facilitate making comparisons is a Double Bubble Thinking Map. A Double Bubble is a type of Thinking Map® which is used to compare two things. The middle "bubbles" are used to show similarities between the two things. The outside "bubbles", are connected respectively to the two things, describe their different qualities. Note, Venn Diagrams are traditionally used to make comparisons, but in my experience Double Bubbles are much easier for younger, elementary students to create on their own. All you need is a blank sheet of paper!
Recently, in first grade, students were developing their conceptual understanding on how making connections across cultures cultivates tolerance. Students studied children's lives in other countries and then were asked to use a Double Bubble Thinking Map to compare different aspects of their life to another child's life elsewhere in the world. By using the tool of the Double Bubble Thinking Map, students were able to make connections across cultures, which cultivates their tolerance towards others who might be "different".
Notice in the following examples of student work, the "differences" tend to be what H. Lynn Erickson calls specific, factual knowledge. This type of information is locked in time, place, and situation. However, the similarities listed in the middle tend to be concepts, which are timeless and universal. According to Erickson, there must be a synergy between these two levels of knowledge if students are to develop intelligence. You can't have one without the other!
|A comparison between this particular child and the Maasai people of southern Kenya.|
|A comparison of schools.|
|A comparison of houses.|
After reading about how first graders used the Double Bubble Thinking Map to make comparisons, how can you or have you used the Double Bubble to make comparisons with your students?