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Comparison strategies are strategies for analyzing and comparing texts, including recognizing similar document structures and identifying common and contrasting themes and topics. It includes the kinds of strategies needed to keep track of multiple outlines of multiple documents and identify where the contents of specific parts are mutually relevant (including not only where they make similar points, but also where they handle similar ideas differently). The hypothesized development of these skills is presented in Development Table 26.

This class of strategies and related abilities supports Reading Standard 9 from the Common Core State Standards.

Literature Note - Comparison

Development Table 26. Hypothesized Development of Comparison Skills

Level
Interpretation
Deliberation
Expression
Preliminary
(oral to sentence)
After reading two texts, can decide whether they are very similar, somewhat alike, or different.
Can deploy sorting strategies in which they place similar material together and generate simple descriptions for each category.
Can list similarities and differences between the content described in a pair of texts, as long as the features are salient for the text type (events and characters for stories; major topics, key illustrations, or salient organizing information in informational text).
Foundational
(sentence to paragraph)
Can integrate information from multiple texts on the same topic or theme and map out shared and distinguishing features that capture how each text is related to the others.
Can deploy hierarchical sorting strategies in which they decide not only how texts agree or differ, but also distinguish between major and minor features and give priority to major features as they create groups and subgroups of similar texts.
Can create elaborated (complete-sentence) descriptions of similarities and differences between texts written on the same topic (or which present the same story), highlighting similarities and differences in their treatment of common plots or themes.
Basic
(paragraph to text)
Can integrate information and identify similarities and differences among texts with major surface differences, such as texts from different genres, texts written from different viewpoints, or texts that derive from fundamentally different cultures or time periods.
Can develop classification strategies for texts that focus on features that are important for an extrinsic purpose (such as defending a particular thesis or exploring a particular theme) even if the features in question are not primary organizing elements in the texts being analyzed.
Can use comparison and contrast as the fundamental organizing principle of an extended text and develop a comparison at length, considering multiple dimensions of similarity and difference.
Intermediate
(text to context)
Can analyze similarities and differences among texts that require multiple levels of analysis (e.g., analyzing how a theme or a topic is treated both in primary and secondary sources, or how an idea is transformed when it is transferred between media or is reworked by another author for another purpose).
Can interpret texts using mapping strategies in which one classification scheme is overlaid on another (e.g., a classification of how sources differ in their treatment of a theme is mapped onto a classification of how later works transform that theme for particular purposes).
Can effectively embed extended comparisons as elaborating elements within a longer text, selecting the comparison and its details to maximize its effectiveness given the purpose and audience.
Advanced
(text and context to discourse)
Can analyze similarities and differences among texts in which one text can be viewed as the analogical key to another, as in cases of allegory and symbolism.
Can interpret texts using analogical strategies in which structures derived from one domain are used as a key to elucidate another, less clearly understood set of concepts.
Can make effective use of implied comparisons, such as allusions, and of framing elements, where the comparison is woven as a background element into an extended exposition organized on some other principle.




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