Develop an Analogy

My biology students have asked for me to develop an activity to get them outside this week. Unfortunately, we only expect one day without rain this week! I thought about several options for them to get outside, but not know what “outside” is available to them, I developed an activity to have them outside thinking 🙂

After sitting outside observing and thinking about evolution and their environment, students are asked to develop an analogy. This assignment requires the use of an online discussion board. I hope some of you might find it (or parts of it) useful. If you don’t have a discussion board, you can modify your expectations.

Here are the directions:

Go Outside! While there, sit and think about what you understand about the theory of evolution. Look around you and think about these questions:

  • How did the environment influence the success of the organisms you see?
  • How has this environment changed over the past 100 million years? What organisms may have lived where you are in the past?
  • The success of an organism can depend on its ability to avoid predators. How does the environment impact an organism’s ability to avoid predation? How does it help predators?

As you sit and think, develop an analogy of evolution. Your analogy should compare something your audience (your classmates and me) is familiar with to the theory of evolution, or an aspect of the theory of evolution. It should also relate to your time spent outside thinking and observing. The analogy must be at least three complete sentences and clearly suggest the connection in your analogy. Feel free to add more sentences if your analogy requires an elaboration in order to understand it.

Next, read the analogies of at least 3 classmates. Analogies are never perfect matches; analogies always fall apart at some point. After reading the analogy, write a two part comment: 1. Praise the analogy and identify its strongest component. 2. Determine where the analogy falls apart – or does not work to explain the concepts.

Finally, after classmates have commented on your analogy, respond to their comments. Remember, critiques are not meant to be taken personally! The comments are a critique of the analogy, not of you as a person. Respond to those critiques with either ideas of how to expand your analogy to overcome the critique, or acknowledgement of its faults.

I expect you to spend some time working on your analogy, as well as thinking about those of your classmates. Should you need assistance in learning how to write an analogy, visit one of the websites below.

“The Value of Analogies in Writing and Speech”:

“What is an Analogy?”:

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