Making Connections with Analogies

May 29, 2015

Over the past six or seven years, Robert and I practiced analogies. At the beginning, my rationale for practicing simple analogies on the 1-3 grade level was not exactly benign. In case Robert was subjected to IQ test, I  wanted Robert not to do very bad. Well, Robert was subjected to such test in the process of qualifying for services from DDS and he did bad enough to be accepted without any doubts.

Even after the testing,  we kept returning to practicing analogies.  I found them in the series  Take It to Your Seat, in two  Steck-Vaughn Analogies  workbooks (for grades 2-3 and 4-5) and in Analogy Challenges by Mindware.

I work with Robert on analogies not to prepare Robert for SAT, which, by the way, got away with that part of the testing.  I do that because analogies offer great opportunity to work on connecting different aspects of concepts.  That might lead to a better understanding of links between words and between the items which the words represent. Of course, over the years the emphasis has changed to involve more talking on part of Robert.

Analogies offer an opportunity to practice language as not just communication device, but also as a tool for thinking and recreating the structure of the world surrounding Robert.

Today, as we practiced completing the sentences presented on pages 32 and 33 of Analogy Challenges, Robert was baffled by this one:

canoe is to paddle as sailboat is to ________________

He had to choose the answer out of four words: water, ropes, wind, oars. He immediately chose water as the thing that goes with the boats.  Except “water” didn’t complete this analogy.  So I presented the task in different way.  I wrote:

paddle moves the canoe, ______________moves the sailboat. This time, Robert chose wind.

Luckily, most of the analogies were much easier for Robert to decipher the kind of connection they presented. I asked Robert not to just complete the sentence and then read it aloud, but to also (wherever it was appropriate) to change the wording in such a way as to include the nature of relationship.

First Robert read,” sled is to ______________ as  ice skates are to ice.

Next he stated, “I use sled on the snow.  I use ice skates on the ice.

Understanding the nature of the analogy would allow Robert not to go for the first word associated in his mind with sled  (which might as well be winter) but to  look for the nature of the similarities instead.

It is not so simple for Robert to find how the concepts are connected in one pair of the words and apply that connection to next pair. Finding the correct word describing the nature of relation and saying it aloud in a long sentence is still a challenge for Robert. And that is why we kept practicing.


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