Thursday, March 9, 2017

Out with Venn Diagrams! In with Comparison Tables!

I have a problem with Venn diagrams. 

Not only do they not translate very well in a digital classroom, but they are also hard to use! 

I remember in my classroom I'd ask for students to create a two circle Venn diagram in their notebooks. Some of my more careful students would ask me to borrow something round so they could make perfectly linked circles while other, less careful students would create something that looked like two linked circles...

The intersection of the two circles of a Venn diagram, the almond-shaped vesica piscis, arguably is the most important part because this is where students would find similarities between the two concepts. Regardless of how the student created their Venn diagram, they often made this area too small to write in.

"There has to be a better way?!" you ask yourself.

"There is," I reply.

Enter the comparison table.

The comparison table allows students to easily compare and contrast two concepts without having to know what a vesica piscis is. Even more, the comparison table is a perfect digital replacement for the Venn diagram when teachers use Google Docs to create them. And since Docs can be shared between students, comparison tables increase collaboration and communication, both 21st century skills we should be incorporating more of into our lessons.

Open this comparison table that describes the similarities and differences between plant and animal cells. Note how students are asked to identify the general similarity between the two cell types like "organelles," and explain how they are similar: "both types of cells have ribosomes, mitochondria, ER, Golgi, and nucleus." Likewise for the differences. Students differentiate in what regard plant and animal cells are different and explain their reasoning. 

Make a copy of the comparison table and start identifying similarities and differences with your students today!