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A Venn diagram is a useful tool to help students analyze information.  Students who have adequate knowledge of any two concepts, items, or topics can compare items using a Venn diagram format with 3 essential questions which reflect unique aspects of an overall BIG IDEA (Essential Question). 



The Venn is a helpful strategy whenever students must make a comparison. 

As seen on the graphic organizer as presented, application to comparing TWO of anything is easy. 

The graphic organizer itself:

  • may be altered to specify what elements are to be used in the comparison—the sub-essential questions or the rows.   By adding rows it is possible to look at more attributes of comparison. 
  • may be altered to compare MORE THAN TWO objects, characters or concepts by adding columns.  In this case, BOTH would be changed to ALL and moved to the last column. 

When the graphic organizer is altered, the writer must make appropriate changes to the written extrapolation.  



Pre-Assessment:  In order to make the lessons we teach appropriate, we must measure the prior knowledge each student has of the content vocabulary being studied.  The Venn Strategy and graphic organizer are uniquely equipped to do this because of the ease of

Formative assessment:  It is important to evaluate, measure and monitor each student’s comprehension and his/her application of new content/vocabulary on a daily basis for intervention purposes.   Using the chart as a collecting point for new information the students may address only 1 sub-essential question on a given day.  On sequential days, they may add to or clarify the vocabulary used, before proceeding to additional questions. 

Teachers have the opportunity for formative assessment of individual students by observing the use and clarification of the new higher level vocabulary.   Feedback may be provided to students either through written comments/questions directly on the charts, or via conversations between teachers and students as the charts are returned.  One means of intervention might be to highlight student responses on the board and discuss possible improved answers as a class. 

Summative assessment is a way of measuring students’ comprehension of new material, usually limited to a specific unit of study.  Work with the Venn graphic organizer allows for focusing on parts of the topic being studied.   The second part of the Venn Strategy works very well to summarize the new material and simultaneously provide a sophisticated written summative assessment—a final grade.



While the Venn has multiple elements and applications, the new skill most strongly supported by this strategy are thinking skills—Comparing and Contrasting.  The most effective way to teach thinking is not necessarily via written comments and suggestions for improvement.  As the product of Formative Assessment—i.e., the Chart of Sub Essential Questions—is evaluated, the teacher may consider forming small groups of students with similar difficulties and pull those students aside for mini-lessons to provide further instruction.  The teacher’s continued formative assessment at this point would be direct observation and would drive the development of new mini-lessons.

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