Last month, I saw a post about TED-Ed Clubs on Richard Byrne’s blog, Free Technology 4 Teachers. Hoping to host such a club next year, I applied. (According to the TED-Ed Clubs site, you may still apply.)
This post isn’t actually about TED-Ed Clubs, since Richard and the TED-Ed site have that pretty well handled. I thought I would share with you a weekly tip that I got through their newsletter about a site called, “Diffen,” which allows you to compare and contrast two topics. In their words, “Use Diffen to get your students talking and thinking about the overlaps and differences of various topics, and spark ideas they are passionate about!”
I decided to take a look.
The site is fairly simple. Just type in a word into each blank, and choose “Go.” It is certainly not perfect, but can definitely generate some interesting conversations!
My 1st grade class is doing a Mystery Twitter Chat with a class in Illinois today (thanks, Matt Gomez, for inspiring me!), so I thought I would do a comparison of Illinois to Texas. Here is a partial screen shot of the results:
It seems fairly objective, so it could be helpful for research. In fact, according to the site creators, “When you are faced with choices, you are looking for unbiased information. Diffen makes it a goal to clearly delineate facts and opinions. The community keeps content unbiased and fact-oriented. The ratings and comments provide outlets for opinions.”
TED-Ed suggested searching for a comparison between empathy and sympathy.
This is actually common question in my classroom, so using Diffen might be a good foundation for that conversation.
I did some other comparisons that were not quite as fruitful – such as “truth” and “beauty” (this year’s Philosophy Slam topic).
Interestingly, just as on Wikipedia, you can add your own information to the tables. Of course, the source of the information on the site could generate some great discussions in your classroom as well – about the reliability of crowd-sourced reference sites, for example.
So far I have not seen anything objectionable that appears on the site accidentally. However, you should definitely check it out for yourself before sending younger students to this resource. I would probably recommend that you use it for writing or discussion prompts, and that students know that it is essential to use several sources if they are doing research.