Top Ten SOS for Comparing and Contrasting

Welcome to our special SOS Top Ten series. In this edition, we highlight some of the most popular ways to use Spotlight on Strategies (CDN Version) to help students identify similarities and differences by comparing and contrasting concepts they are studying.

Identifying similarities and differences through comparison is a hallmark of deep understanding. The ability to compare and contrast requires not only the taking in of information, but making sense of it and organizing it into categories that show relationships.

Compare and contrast is a skill that can be developed at any grade level and used in any subject area: it is seen in literary devices like simile and metaphor, is a strategy employed as students investigate geometric shapes, and it helps inform us about themes found in human conflicts through the ages. 

The instructional strategies below provide opportunities for students to use Discovery Education media resources to practice comparing and contrasting.  

We hope you’ll try one or more of these strategies and share your experience with us, either in the comments or in the DEN Online Community!


Figure It Out Together (CDN Version) asks students to use video and images to practice their ability to make and express figurative comparisons. With a focus on using literary devices such as metaphor, simile, hyperbole, etc., students select an image to connect to the video to express the literary device.


Would You Rather (CDN Version) prompts students with the question “Would you rather…?” and then asks them to choose one of two options and justify their choices with evidence. The process of selecting requires a careful comparison of the two. This could be the first step in setting up an opportunity for debate based on the justifications students provide.


Picture It! (CDN Version) asks students to analyze and classify images related to the unit of study. They compare and contrast what they see in the images before performing additional research to validate or learn more about the content.


4 Cs (CDN Version) is used to help students develop synthesizing and organizational skills by guiding students to make connections, ask questions, identify key concepts, and contemplate changes/consider the application of what they’ve learned.


Who Are You? (CDN Version) gives students an opportunity to express how they are feeling by looking at pairs of contrasting images and selecting the one that best represents their perspective and feelings.


Take a Walk (CDN Version) helps students process new information from a piece of digital media and share their reactions to it by walking while they talk about it. This strategy could easily be focused on comparison & contrast by asking students to specifically discuss the similarities and differences they noticed in a piece of media.


Eye Spy (CDN Version) helps students develop visual literacy skills by giving them structured opportunities to revisit an image multiple times, each time carefully analyzing it to notice details and nuances.  This scaffolded image analysis could be followed by partner or group comparison of what each person saw which would deepen the comprehension and sharpen students’ focus on lesser-noticed details in the images.


PMI (CDN Version) helps students categorize their reactions to a piece of media to make decisions about important elements it contains. Student to student comparison of PMI responses could enhance the outcome by encouraging students to recognize multiple sides to an issue.


Get VENN-y With It (CDN Version) uses the classic compare/contrast tool, a Venn diagram. Students use this graphic organizer to identify similarities and differences in digital media.


Now Screening (CDN Version) encourages students to make connections at the beginning of a unit of study by focusing them on images that relate to the topic. Opportunities for comparison and contrast could easily be built into this immersive experience with the content.


Related posts


  1. Denise Henry Orndorff said:

    You can use these SOS strategies for any grade level. If you are a tech coach like me try using the same strategy at an elementary, middle, and high school. It is very interesting to see how different students react to them but one thing is guaranteed – THEY WILL BE ENGAGED!!!

  2. Traci said:

    Comparing and contrasting is often a skill my students struggle with. Utilizing these strategies definitely help with the process of grasping this skill. I have not yet used Eye Spy, but plan to incorporate it next school year!

  3. Jerry Scoppa said:

    Love it. It is amazing to have a curated group of strategies to help you out. The full SOS can be difficult to maneuver and overwhelming. Thanks for this resource!

Comments are closed.