Four Keys to Teaching Students How to Analyze

This week I’m presenting at the national AMLE conference (middle level education) in Portland Ore. Quite nice since I live here!

My session
Thursday Nov 8 at 8AM
#1111 – Teaching Students to Analyze? Motivate with Skills, Choice and Reflection.
Here’s a preview

True analysis is messy work, but that’s where the learning takes place.

My talk has two themes – first, it’s a reflection on how analysis is taught in the classroom. Too often teachers give students a Venn Diagram and ask them to compare. What looks like analysis on the surface is often no more than re-filling information from the source material into the Venn. Graphic organizer are great to help students understand a variety of analytic models, but they often constrain students into someone else’s analytic framework. 

Summarizing and comparisons are powerful ways to build content knowledge and critical thinking. But if students are going to master CCSS skills they need to design the model, find a way to express it to others, and have the opportunity self reflect on their product and feedback from peers. Get them started with graphic organizers, then show some courage and be less helpful. True analysis is messy work, but that’s where the learning takes place.

My session will utilize audience responders to first evaluate sample lessons in summarizing and comparing, then collectively develop critical benchmarks. Teachers will next be given frameworks for designing lessons which enable students to think like designers, to apply their learning strategies, share their conclusions and set the stage for self-reflection.

FlipNLearn: a foldable that students design, print and share.

Next, I will demonstrate how to meet these four keys to teaching analysis with FlipNLearn, a foldable that students design, print and share. It’s an innovative learning tool that students design on a computer, then print on special pre-formatted paper. The result – a clever foldable that flips through four faces of student selected text and images. FlipNLearn is a great way to give students a manageable design challenge that promotes teamwork, self-assessment and reflection. In 30 minutes, or less, they can produce tangible product that blends the best of PBL and CCSS skills in communication. If you can’t make my session, look for me at the IMCOM vendor booth #819 for free tips on Portland’s best pubs and grub.

8 Replies to “Four Keys to Teaching Students How to Analyze”

  1. Yes, comparison is not analysis. As a performance auditor, for each analysis (or audit) I work on, I have to develop the following elements: Criteria, Condition, Effect and Cause. We call them ‘the elements of a finding’ or one could call them elements of an analysis. Using these elements, we then develop recommendations for improvement (basically addressing the cause). It would be a great project for students to develop the ‘elements of analysis’ for a problem or issue they select to analyze.

  2. I love the idea of teaching students to do true analysis. It goes along with teaching them to ask authentic, clear questions and effectively research using multiple sources.

    I have worked through inquiry and research with 5th graders (at least the fundamental, beginning stages). I’m wondering how student-initiate or student-designed analysis would begin. How might it be scaffolded?

    I can’t come to the conference, so any information here would be helpful. :).

    1. Hi Janet,
      As I noted in another post “Develop a classification system – analyze patterns, create a schema, evaluate where specific elements belong. Sounds like a very sophisticated exercise. Not really, young toddlers do it all the time – sorting out their toys and household stuff into groups of their own design. They may not be able to explain their thinking, but hand them another item and watch them purposely place it into one of their groups. They have designed a system.”

      Of course, students do need proper scaffolding. Opportunities to learn different analytic models – cause / effect, problem / solution, sequencing, continuity / change. It makes sense to provide them some graphic organizers to help master the models. But at some point, you must turn them loose and give them the chance to explore, discover, create. Put another way, if your entire class comes back with the same comparative analysis – you did the thinking, they didn’t.

      Here’s a project I did with the Smithsonian that would be great for your students. A chance to develop their own analysis of the history of the bicycle. No graphic organizer – they get to do the thinking and uncover patterns of continuity and change in the development of the bicycle.

      Have fun and let me know how they do with it.

  3. Alexandra,
    Thanks for taking this outside the the confines of the classroom and into the real world. Students need a chance to work as professionals do, using similar strategies and goals. You add a valuable perspective to planning those real-world learning experiences.
    ~ Peter

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