LinkLog: Venn Diagrams and Higher Order Thinking

This is an amazing article worth reading.  I have taken the liberty to take a fragment and give you taste.  A couple of quotes from the article.

The classic Venn diagram, with three circles, was invented by the English philosopher and mathematician John Venn in 1881. His goal was to find symmetrical figures that were elegant and attractive, and he was never satisfied with his attempts to find figures for mapping four, five, and more sets. But a hundred years later, Anthony Edwards, a statistician, geneticist, and evolutionary biologist at Cambridge University, thought of a way to do it.

Here are some rules for using them.

Four rules for using Venn diagrams

To sum up, here are four rules for using Venn (and Venn-like) diagrams to encourage higher-order thinking in your classroom.

  1. Use diagrams for classification, not just comparison.
    By using circles to represent sets and placing the elements within them, you can classify large numbers of things rather than simply comparing two or three.
  2. Draw diagrams to meet your needs.
    Circles don’t have to be the same size, and they don’t have to overlap — you don’t even have to use circles! By drawing custom diagrams for each topic, you can correctly represent relationships among sets or characteristics.
  3. Draw the universal set.
    Draw and label the universal set — the set of everything you might be discussing. That keeps the discussion within reasonable bounds, and makes a place for everything in it.
  4. Scaffold students up to using progressively more complicated diagrams.
    If you work your way up slowly, students will learn to use graphic organizers not simply to keep track of knowledge they’ve already learned, but to push themselves to think about that knowledge in new ways and to learn more.