Using Playdoh to Teach Synthesis

file_000Synthesis is difficult… many students don’t understand how carefully they need to review, select, and assemble their research into something which is a unique argument to support their thesis. Yes, this is silly. Deliberately so. We’re writing – how BORING is that?! The kinesthetic act of blending playdoh is far more fun and meaningful than a powerpoint slide. The novelty is also a nice break from monotonous writing. file_008

We have three components of research analysis so far: RCFs, Mind Maps, and Argumentation Plans. Students often think they can just lift writing from one of them and drop it into a label. That’s like dumping playdoh from a container and calling it “your artwork.”

So we take three different colors to demonstrate the analytical tools we must access.

Simply stacked, they are meaningless. But after mixing them together, or synthesizing the colors, we’re able to create something unique. Something which is ours. If our analysis is “examining and understanding how something is important,” synthesis is blending those observations into an interpretation. That’s what we did with our playdoh colors. I guess you could infer the better you mix the colors, the better your analysis. That’s probably advanced for many History Fair students at this stage, but a goal we’ll approach over the next 32 days.

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