Identifying Similarities & Differences
Generating & Testing Hypotheses
Being able to identify the similarities and differences within your content area helps your students to move "from existing knowledge to new knowledge", from "concrete ideas to abstract ideas", from "separate concepts to connected concepts".
Word Processing Applications
communication and collaboration Software
If you don't have the software necessary to create graphic organizers, which are great for representing similarities & differences within content, you may use Microsoft Word's SmartArt, Word processors, or Google Docs.
A major part of our students becoming competitive in a 21st century global market is being able to collaborate with others. Some communication and collaboration software include Google Docs, Blogspot, Twitter chats, or iAnnotate. These are just a few ideas your students can use that are interactive, efficient, and fun! (Xtranormal also a great tool!)
Data Collection and Analysis Tools
InspireData and other spreadsheet software builds data literacy skills and engages students by exploring and analyze data. With InspireData, students can create Venn, bar, stack, pie, and access plots to interpret information and draw conclusions in science, mathematics, and social studies. Spreadsheets can also be used to generate and test hypotheses as students must collect data and analyze that data for patterns. InspireData: There is a free 30-day trial for educators!
Organizing and Brainstorming Software
Being able to organize and compartmentalize information into their respective categories is paramount to comparing and contrasting conceptual ideas. Besides The Brain, other software you may use include Kidspiration for students in PreK-5th grade and Inspiration for your middle and high school students. Organizing and brainstorming software can also be used to generate and test hypotheses as they can help to organize our students organize higher-level cognitive tasks. Popplet is another great mind-mapping tool your students can use!
Database and Reference Tools
One great tool for comparison and an example of a database and reference tool is www.wolframalpha.com. In the text for instance, a high school student is searching for colleges and wants to compare her top 3. When she entered the 3 universities into the search bar of Wolfram Alpha, the website had generated a side-by-side comparison including yearly tuition, campus size, number of in-state students versus out-of-state students, plus more. Overwhelming in depth of information available.
Educational simulations and games, which would be considered instructional interactives, allow students to apply their background knowledge to make predictions, receive immediate feedback, and see the outcomes of their hypotheses in an engaging environment.