Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Using analogies to promote critical thinking

Over the summer I had the opportunity to attend the AVID Summer Institute.  It was by far the best and most beneficial professional development workshop I have ever attended.  With that being said, I have tried to implement some of the strategies that I learned at the Summer Institute.  One of the strategies that I really liked and knew that I could use immediately is called "Synectic Analogous".  The basic premise of this idea is to have students create analogies.  I tried this activity in class yesterday.  It was amazing how quickly I could distinguish my literal thinkers from my "outside of the box" thinkers.  Anyway here's the basic gist of how to use this activity.

  1. Give your students four random categories.  (I used type of food, type of clothing, type of electronic, and type of furniture.)  
  2. Have the students list one answer for each of the four categories.  (I had the students work in groups of 3-4 and gave them less than five minutes to complete this portion of the assignment.)
  3. Explain to the students that they must compare the items they listed to the main character in the text.  (We were reading "My Favorite Chaperone" by Jean Davies Okimoto.)
  4. My students used the RACE strategy (R-restate the question, A- answer the question, C- cite textual evidence, E- explain the evidence) to complete step three.  
Sample Answer:

Maya, from "My Favorite Chaperone", is like a dining room table because everyone depends on her to support them.  Maya not only has to help her family by watching out for her brother she also has to translate for her father when Nurzhan, her brother, gets in a fight and when her mom's employers call.  Maya also must give up her love of gymnastics when her mother hurts her ankle.  During this time she has to go to school, do her mother's cleaning jobs, and cook dinner for the family.  These examples prove the extent to which Maya's family places things on her shoulders and depends on her to help carry the families burdens, just as each day we depend on a dining room table to hold whatever we may place upon it.



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