Strategies for Empowering Students


  • To encourage students to use their knowledge and experiences
  • To use mathematical concepts to encourage students to use their higher-order thinking skills
  • To help students develop their concept of size

  • Use of higher-order thinking skills
  • Use of knowledge
  • Use of mathematical skills
Integration of Content/Subject Areas

  • Integration of Content/Subject Areas
  • Language Arts
  • Social Studies
  • Mathematics
  • Character Building

Arrange the students in teams. Write the following words on the board:

small large tall smart
smaller larger taller smarter
smallest largest tallest smartest

Discuss the comparative qualities of each with the students. Ask what the difference is between the words in each set. Have them demonstrate their understanding by first creating some type of drawing or picture that depicts the difference in the degree of words. After they have completed their drawings or representations, have them write their descriptions or explanations.

long, longer, longest


Lina has long black hair, but Sue's hair is longer. Jennifer has the longest hair of all the girls in our room.

Encourage the students to be as creative as they can as they think of ways to describe the comparisons. Have each team share how they described each set of words. Ask whether they can think of other words to compare. Students may contribute other words, such as:

  • big, bigger, biggest
  • bright, brighter, brightest
  • white, whiter, whitest
  • black, blacker, blackest
  • mad, madder, maddest
  • narrow, narrower, narrowest
  • wise, wiser, wisest
  • neat, neater, neatest

  • How did students use their critical thinking skills?

  • Did students demonstrate an understanding of comparisons? How?

  • Were students' writing skills enhanced? How?

  • Were students able to distinguish words that could be used for comparisons from those that would not fit into this category? How did they demonstrate this knowledge?


Excerpted from Beyond Rhetoric and Rainbows: A Journey to the Place Where Learning Lives ©1996 University of Illinois Extension.