Using Comparative Thinking for Phoneme Mastery



We practice SO much on letters, sounds, phonemes everyday. Why is it that some of our kids still struggle after so many exposures? We know some of them just aren't ready yet. For some developmental reason, it's not clicking... yet. But it will. For others, the reason can be SO simple. They need opportunities to compare and sort sounds. I have found this to be the most solidifying experience for my littles to really master their sounds. Even those who aren't showing they're quite ready yet, may really benefit from this approach.

Let's take a look at the research. Based on the 2007 work of Robert Marzano he "reconfirmed earlier research that asking students to identify similarities and differences through comparative analysis leads to eye-opening gains in student achievement." (Harvey Silver, ASCD)

Although much research has been done on older students, why not use Comparative Thinking Strategies for the littles? It only makes sense. It is such a natural and early function of the brain...
We compare almost from birth, we know our mother/father, vs. not... As we grow we use more and more complex comparative thinking on a daily basis, dozens of times each day.

As Harry Silver's ASCD article outlines, even though our brains are used to making comparisons in our daily life, making the transition to using this type of thinking in school is not always the most natural for most of our kids. If we start early, it can lead not only to letter mastery as were referring to here, but actual pathways and greater metacognition and analytical skills for our learners to use throughout their lives.

I have taught Comparative Thinking practices to my kinder kids for many, many years. Being intentional about it will grow complex thinkers! Silver's article suggests setting distinct instructional goals such as strengthening memory, developing higher order thinking skills as well as other goals.

I find this research fascinating because I feel that it really brings validity to what we teachers already know. When kids compare, they learn. When we use the power of comparison in our classroom instruction, we bring an enriched experience to our learners that equips them well beyond the content we are currently trying to inform.

I have used Comparative Thinking strategies in every content area. Math, reading, writing, science and social studies, in my opinion, there is no more powerful strategy. Although I have been using them I my own classroom for years, I had never made a resource that was quite pretty enough to put in my store until now. Because I feel so strongly about using comparison when teaching sounds, I created a couple of resources that make this an easy, time-saving and super high yield resource that puts into practice the Comparative Thinking strategy for our littles to master sounds. Although what I exposed my littles to wasn't quite as pretty as these, I know they were able to benefit from the proficiency that resulted from comparison as a means of learning. I hope you'll give it a try too!
(I even use this strategy for teaching high frequency sight words, see below!)
*If you use McGraw Hill Wonders, I have created Compare & Sort Resources formatted for Wonders too!

Letter Sounds Compare & Sort Big Review




Fry's First 100 Sight Words Write the Room


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