I was first introduced to the mnemonic acronym, S.C.U.M.P.S., in 2003, when I was teaching a Stage 3 (Years 5 and 6) class. Presented in a matrix, students can use the attributes of Size, Colour, Use, Materials, Parts and Shape, for describing, comparing and contrasting objects. (The SCUMPS model can be found in Teaching complex thinking #6122, Hawker Brownlow Education, 2000, and has been used in HSC online activities.)

S.C.U.M.P.S. encourages and supports students, especially when working in cooperative learning groups, to record their topical field knowledge, show gaps in their research or sources, and can scaffold talking, listening, reading and writing.

Today, after demonstrating to the first Stage 2 class for the week how to use a S.C.U.M.P.S. proforma to compare and contrast a gluestick and a picture book, the class teacher and I sent the students off, in groups of three, to begin recording their comparisons between two distinctly different bridges of their choice. The proforma was used to compare a selection of the online Bridges photographs from the Flickr slideshow I set up for them two weeks ago.

The students were actively engaged in their task, and I noted a maximising of time spent on practical issues, and talking, listening and cooperation.