- Character Traits
- Compare and Contrast
- Point of View
- Read Alouds
- Reading Response Ideas
- Text Features
- Text Structures
- Research Project Ideas
- Free Activity
- Best Biographies
- No Prep Ideas
- Disclosure Policy
- Lifetime Access
Scaffolding a Compare and Contrast Essay With Frames and Templates
Writing can be hard and frustrating for upper elementary students; writing a compare and contrast essay can be even harder and more frustrating.
Often, this skill gets pushed to the back burner. It is a lot easier to practice comparing and contrasting with things that take less time - like by using a Venn Diagram.
However, teaching 3rd, 4th, and 5th grade students to compare and contrast topics within their writing is an important skill. Scaffolding student writing through sentence or paragraph frames and essay templates can minimize the frustration of students, save valuable time, and help your students become better writers. Providing structure helps focus yoru students.
Below, find ideas for scaffolding so that your 3rd, 4th, and 5th grade students can be successful with comparing and contrasting in their writing - and eventually writing a compare and contrast essay!
Start Small - With Compare and Contrast Sentence Starters or Frames
Students don't have to write an entire essay every time you want them to practice comparing and contrasting within their writing - they can practice this skill by simply writing a sentence that compares or contrasts two things.
Providing students with sentence starters is a great way to ease them into using compare and contrast language in their writing. This is especially beneficial for your ELL and low language students, but ALL of your students will benefit from this strategy.
Example Sentence Starters
1. __________ and __________ are different because __________.
2. __________ and __________ are alike because __________.
3. The most important difference between __________ and __________ is __________.
4. An important similarity between __________ and __________ is __________.
5. While __________ and __________ are alike because __________, they have different __________.
Using a Paragraph Template or Frame
After students have been successful at writing sentences that compare and contrast, expand to short paragraphs. Provide scaffolding similar to the sentence frames to help your 3rd grade, 4th grade, or 5th grade students be successful.
Using scaffolding like this will not only help them with comparing and contrasting language, but will improve their overall writing as well.
(You might find some of these other writing tips and ideas helpful.)
Example Paragraph Frames
1. __________ and __________ have many differences. The most important difference is _________________________. Another difference is _________________________. Finally, _________________________.
2. __________ and __________ are similar in many ways. For example, ____________________. Furthermore, they both ____________________. A final similarity is ____________________.
3. __________ and __________ are similar in some ways, but different in others. For example, they both ____________________. Despite this similarity, they are different because ____________________. This difference is important because ____________________.
Compare and Contrast Essay Template / Structure / Outline
Writing an essay can be overwhelming. Teachers often try to support students by modeling good essay writing - which is an essential step. But having students go straight from having a compare and contrast essay modeled for them to writing their own independently can be a huge jump for some. They are going straight from "I do" to "You do."
A scaffolded essay outline makes a good "we do" for upper elementary students. Provide students with a scaffolded template that clearly lays out the structure of a good compare and contrast essay. This helps students stay on topic and reminds them what a good compare and contrast essay should look like.
Eventually, you will take this scaffolding away. Or, you can use the scaffolding to differentiate. Provide more scaffolding for students that needed, while students have a good grasp might only have topic students scaffolded for them - or maybe even no scaffolding at all.
If you know your students would benefit from this type of scaffolding, but don’t have the time to create it yourself, check out my Compare and Contrast Writing Resource.
It walks students through the writing process with scaffolding each step of the way. This resource also provides a model essay so that you can model expectations for your students. Plus, it can be used over and over again with different topics.
You might also like these other ideas for scaffolding your instruction, or these compare and contrast activities and ideas.
Want a Compare and Contrast Freebie?
Download these reading passages with a compare and contrast activity for free and use it to today!
I will try the strategy, seems easy to follow
Leave a Reply Cancel reply
You must be logged in to post a comment.
You are using an outdated browser. Please upgrade your browser to improve your experience.
- My Playlists
- My Subscriptions
- Media Upload
- User Guides - Training
- Use Cases & Feature Tour
- News - Blog Articles
- Terms & Conditions
- Teacher Sign Up
- Student Sign Up
- User Guides & Tutorials
- Add My School
- Request Support
- Forgot Password
- Forgot Username
- Whitelist - Unblock SchoolTube
- Selfie Video App
- Linking YouTube Videos
Writing to Compare and Contrast
The video (file) shared on this page is submitted by a user who claims the right to do so and has agreed to schooltube's terms. copyright owners may claim potential violations, related media.
- Encouragement, Motivation & Inspiration
- Brain Breaks
- Music for Writing
- Scholastic Online Ordering
- Classroom Donations
- Student Binders
- About Mrs. Warner
- Unit 1.2 Experts, Inc.
- Unit 1.3 Earthquakes
- Unit 1.4 A Crash Course
- Unit 1.5 Kids in Business
- Unit 2.2 Ranita, The Frog Princess
- Unit 2.3 The Buffalo Are Back
- Unit 2.4 Spiders
- Unit 2.5 Poetry
- Unit 3.2 Alguinaldo
- Unit 3.3 Delivering Justice
- Unit 3.4 Abe's Honest Words
- Unit 3.5 A New Kind of Corn
- Unit 4.2 LaRue for Mayor
- Unit 4.3 The Moon Over Stars
- Unit 4.4 Why Does the Moon Change Shape?
- Unit 4.5 Poetry
- Unit 5.2 Apples to Oregon
- Unit 5.3 How Ben Franklin Stole the Lightning
- Unit 5.4 A Drop of Water
- Unit 5.5 Time for Kids ~ Spanish Beginnings
- Unit 6.2 The Valley of the Moon
- Unit 6.3 Energy Island
- Unit 6.4 The Big Picture of Economics
- Unit 6.5 Poetry
- Reading Bookmark Homework
- Unit 1.2 Lewis & Clark & Me
- Unit 1.3 Grandfather's Journey
- Unit 1.4 The Horned Toad Prince
- Unit 1.5 Yosemite
- Unit 2.2 Coyote School News
- Unit 2.3 Grace & the Time Machine
- Unit 2.4 Marven of the Great North Woods
- Unit 2.5 So You Want To Be President
- Unit 3.2 Adelina's Whales
- Unit 3.3 How Night Came
- Unit 3.4 Eye of the Storm
- Unit 3.5 Great Kapok Tree
- Unit 4.2 Encantado
- Unit 4.3 King in the Kitchen
- Unit 4.4 Seeker of Knowledge
- Unit 4.5 Encyclopedia Brown
- Unit 5.2 Lost City
- Unit 5.3 Amelia & Eleanor
- Unit 5.4 Antarctic Journal
- Unit 5.5 Moonwalk
- Unit 6.2 Jim Thorpe's Bright Path
- Unit 6.3 How Tia Lola Came to Stay
- Unit 6.4 To Fly
- Unit 6.5 Far Side of the Moon
- Spelling Cursive
- Author's Text Structure
- Cause & Effect
- Fact & Opinion
- Graphic Organizers
- Thinking Skills
- Making Generalizations
- Point of View
- Book Report ~ Reading Challenge
- Learning Sight Words
- Multiple Meaning Words
- Shades of Meaning
- Cinnamon Roll Synonyms Photos
- Text Feature Resources
- Parts of a Book
- Reading Videos
- Almanacs for Kids
- Thinking Like a Good Reader
- Reading Websites
- Books Online
- Family Under the Bridge
- Tiger Rising
- Tales of Famous Heroes
- Fluency Practice
- Prefixes, Suffixes, & Roots
- Language Review
- Types of Sentences
- Subject & Predicate Practice
- Clauses & Phrases Lesson
- Dialogue - Quotation Marks
- Comma Rules
- Grammar Rock Videos
- Language Videos
- Mad Libs Grammar
- Compare & Contrast Writing
- Friendly Letter Writing
- How To Writing
- Paragraph Writing
- Persuasive Writing
- P.O.V. Writing
- Veggie Adding Details Photos
- Sentence Fluency
- Show Don't Tell Mini Lesson
- Prompt Writing
- 6 Traits Trade Books
- Comic Creator
- Claymation Creation Photos
- Idiom Parade Photos
- Language Websites
- Foreign Languages
- Math Websites
- Unit 1 Geometry Review
- Unit 2 Place Value & Data Review
- Unit 3 Multiplication & Division Review
- Unit 4 Decimal Review
- Unit 5 Big Number Review
- Unit 6 Division & Measuring Angles
- Unit 7 Fraction & Probability
- Unit 8 Area & Perimeter
- Unit 9 Fractions, Decimals & Percents
- Unit 10 Reflections & Symmetry
- Marshmallow Day
- Unit 12 Rates
- Everyday Math Family Letters
- Math Homework
- Everyday Math Study Guides
- Multiplication Review
- Multiplication Stories
- Multiplication Table
- Multiplication Videos
- Schoolhouse Rock Math Videos
- Marshmallow Math
- Math Game Photos
- Geometry Class Photos
- 3D Shapes ~ Learning about Pyramids & Prisms
- Watermelon Day
- Twizzler Math
- Algebra ~ Hands-on Equations
- Challenge Math
- Math Story Problems
- Number Chart
- History Websites
- Indiana Cities
- Indiana Colleges
- Indiana Counties
- Indiana's Global Address
- Indiana Railroads
- Indiana Regions
- Indiana Resources
- Indiana Rivers
- Indiana Roads
- Indiana Symbols
- Indiana Wildlife
- Unit 1: Indiana's Land & People
- Unit 2: Early Indiana
- Unit 3: Creating a State
- Unit 4: Indiana Grows
- Unit 5: Indiana in Modern Times
- Indiana's B-day Photos
- Native American Projects
- Native American Shelter
- History of Thanksgiving
- Revolutionary War
- Harriet Tubman & Levi Coffin Speeches
- World War I
- World War II
- Uncle Tom's Cabin
- Benjamin Harrison Field Trip
- IHS Field Trip
- Learning Map Scale
- Latitude or Longitude Photos
- Wax Museum Photos
- Indiana State Fair
- Indiana Whiz Kids Quiz #1
- Indiana Whiz Kids Quiz #2
- Indiana Whiz Kids Quiz #3
- Indiana Whiz Kids Quiz #4
- Indiana Whiz Kids Quiz #5
- Famous Hoosier: Wax Museum Photos
- Wax Museum 2011
- History Videos
- Google Maps
- The Presidents
- Science Homework
- Science Websites
- Unit 1 Scientific Methods
- Heat & Electricity Experiments
- Weathering & Erosion Labs
- Rock Unit Review
- Unit 4 Adaptations & Survival
- Unit 5 Forces & Transportation
- Science Rap & Poem
- Science Videos
- Building Electric Circuits
- Praying Mantis Projects
- Rain Forest Project Photos
- Science Fair Photos
- Volcano Day
- Brain Boosters
- Inventions & Inventors
- Mexican Jumping Beans
- Praying Mantis
- Lettering & Graphics
- Quick Access Websites
- Vocabulary Enrichment
- Mrs. Warner's Indiana Whiz Kids Website
- Special Learners
- Christmas Music & Activities
- Thanksgiving Music & Activities
- Fall Music & Activities
- Spring Songs & Activities
- Fun Activities for Kids
Young Writers at Work
- Sign Up Individual School
Writing a Compare-and-Contrast Essay (Gr. 4)
Scott Foresman, an imprint of Pearson
Featured 4th grade resources.
In order to continue enjoying our site, we ask that you confirm your identity as a human. Thank you very much for your cooperation.
- Arts & Music
- English Language Arts
- World Language
- Social Studies - History
- Holidays / Seasonal
- Independent Work Packet
- Easel by TPT
- Google Apps
Interactive resources you can assign in your digital classroom from TPT.
Unlock access to 4 million resources — at no cost to you — with a school-funded subscription..
compare and contrast 4th grade
Resource types, all resource types, results for compare and contrast 4th grade.
- Price (Ascending)
- Most Recent
Compare and Contrast with Paired Text Passages for Reading and Writing
Compare and Contrast Passages, Graphic Organizers RL.4.9 4th Grade Reading RL4.9
- Easel Activity
Also included in: 4th Grade Reading Literature Text RL Bundle - Fiction Lexile Reading Activities
Firsthand and Secondhand Accounts Compare and Contrast RI.4.6 4th Grade - RI4.6
Also included in: 4th Grade Reading Informational Text RI Bundle - Nonfiction Activities, Lexile
Compare and Contrast Nonfiction Reading Response Essay Writing Unit
Also included in: Text Dependent Test Prep Writing Units BUNDLE
Paired Passages Paired Texts Compare and Contrast Passages Video Games
Also included in: Paired Passages Paired Texts Reading Comprehension Compare & Contrast Passages
Informational Text Structures Unit - Nonfiction for Third, Fourth & Fifth Grade
Text Structure in Nonfiction 4th Grade RI.4.5 - Reading Passages for RI4.5
Also included in: 4th Grade Nonfiction Reading Comprehension Bundle - Google Distance Learning
Compare & Contrast Stories - 10 Paired Passages - 4th & 5th Grade Folktales
Also included in: Comparing Folktales Around the World Unit - 4th & 5th Grade Bundle RL.4.9 RL.5.9
Compare & Contrast Point of View RL.4.6 & RL.5.6 - Lexile Reading Passages
Also included in: 4th Grade Fiction Reading Comprehension Bundle
Non-Fiction Paired Passages for Comparing and Contrasting for 4th-7th Grades
Compare & Contrast Point of View Task Cards - 4th & 5th Grade - RL.4.6 & RL.5.6
Also included in: Reading Comprehension Task Cards Bundle for 4th & 5th Grade
Compare and Contrast Digital Reading Unit for 4th Grade
Also included in: Digital Reading Bundle Nonfiction for 4th Grade - Reading Comprehension
4th Grade STAAR Reading Practice Tests, Aligned Review!
Also included in: 4th Grade STAAR Reading Test-Prep BUNDLE, PDF or Digital Option!
Compare & Contrast Nonfiction Bundle - 2nd, 3rd, 4th, & 5th Grades
Compare and Contrast Fiction Reading Unit With Centers THIRD GRADE
Also included in: Reading Units - Unit Three Bundle THIRD GRADE
Paired Passages Paired Texts | Compare and Contrast | History of Technology
Also included in: Paired Passages Paired Texts | Reading Comprehension | Compare and Contrast 3-4
No Prep Emergency Sub Plans - Substitute Activities for 3rd, 4th, & 5th Grade
Paired Passages Paired Texts | Compare and Contrast | Animal Adaptations
Compare and Contrast Test 2
Compare and Contrast Nonfiction Reading Unit With Centers THIRD GRADE
Also included in: Reading Units and Centers MEGA BUNDLE THIRD GRADE
Nonfiction Text Structures 4th Grade ELA Test Prep Game
Also included in: Reading Comprehension Reading Skills Worksheets Bundle
Compare & Contrast - 4th&5th Grade Florida BEST Standards - ELA.4.R.3.3/5.R.3.3
Also included in: 4th Grade Florida BEST Reading Comprehension Bundle FL B.E.S.T.
Character Traits and Analysis Graphic Organizers 3rd 4th and 5th Grade
Also included in: Character Graphic Organizers Bundle: Printable and Digital Versions
Reading Comprehension Passages - Compare and Contrast - DIGITAL INCLUDED!
Also included in: NO PREP Reading Comprehension Passages GROWING BUNDLE! Print AND Digital!
TPT empowers educators to teach at their best.
- We're Hiring
- Help & FAQ
- Terms of Service
- Trademark & Copyright
Keep in Touch!
Are you getting the free resources, updates, and special offers we send out every week in our teacher newsletter?
Teaching the Compare and Contrast Essay through Modeling
- Resources & Preparation
- Instructional Plan
- Related Resources
Together, students and teacher use charts and Venn diagrams to brainstorm and organize similarities and differences between two objects. The teacher then models the beginning of the first draft, inviting students to help rephrase, clarify, and revise as the draft is written. Finally, students take what they have learned to complete the draft independently.
Comparison and Contrast Guide : This student-centered online guide provides a thorough introduction to the compare and contrast essay format, including definitions, transitions, graphic organizers, checklists, and examples.
Venn Diagram : Use this online tool during prewriting to organize ideas for a compare and contrast essay.
From Theory to Practice
Rick VanDeWeghe writes of modeling: "teachers show how they go about the processes of reading and writing-drawing students' attention to the ways readers and writers think and the real decisions they make, especially when they themselves are challenged." In her book Conversations , Regie Routman explains why this modeling process is so successful: "It has always been our job to teach directly and explicitly in response to students' needs-carefully demonstrating, specifically showing how, clearly explaining. Whatever we want our students to do well, we first have to show them how. Of all the changes I have made in my teaching, adding explicit demonstration to everything I teach has been the single most important factor in increasing students' literacy" (24).
Further, writing out loud with students gives me an opportunity to show my enjoyment for the writing process. Students see that revision and editing are part of the fun, and that even teachers don't get it correct the first time. As an added bonus, students are frequently more eager to share personal writings with me for feedback once they see this process modeled.
Common Core Standards
This resource has been aligned to the Common Core State Standards for states in which they have been adopted. If a state does not appear in the drop-down, CCSS alignments are forthcoming.
This lesson has been aligned to standards in the following states. If a state does not appear in the drop-down, standard alignments are not currently available for that state.
NCTE/IRA National Standards for the English Language Arts
- 3. Students apply a wide range of strategies to comprehend, interpret, evaluate, and appreciate texts. They draw on their prior experience, their interactions with other readers and writers, their knowledge of word meaning and of other texts, their word identification strategies, and their understanding of textual features (e.g., sound-letter correspondence, sentence structure, context, graphics).
- 4. Students adjust their use of spoken, written, and visual language (e.g., conventions, style, vocabulary) to communicate effectively with a variety of audiences and for different purposes.
- 5. Students employ a wide range of strategies as they write and use different writing process elements appropriately to communicate with different audiences for a variety of purposes.
- 6. Students apply knowledge of language structure, language conventions (e.g., spelling and punctuation), media techniques, figurative language, and genre to create, critique, and discuss print and nonprint texts.
Materials and Technology
- LCD Projector hooked to a computer with a word processor, or an overhead projector
- Word processor software
- General classroom supplies (pencils, paper, etc.)
- Compare and Contrast Chart Graphic Organizer (optional)
- Comparison and Contrast Rubric (optional)
- Set the projector up so that the teacher is facing the class and able to type the text (or write easily on the overhead) and the class is able to follow along.
- Familiarize yourself with the basic commands of the word processor on the computer that you're using.
- Test the Venn Diagram student interactive, Comparison and Contrast Guide , and Compare and Contrast Map on your computers to familiarize yourself with the tools and ensure that you have the Flash plug-in installed. You can download the plug-in from the technical support page.
- Prior to this lesson, students should have learned how to write introductions and conclusions. The ReadWriteThink lesson Leading to Great Places in the Elementary Classroom can be a useful resource for exploring introductory sentences.
- (optional) For background information on the compare and contrast essay format, see Literacy Education Online's Comparison/Contrast Essays .
- define the characteristics of a comparison/contrast essay.
- generate ideas for the group composition and their own essays as the process is modeled.
- develop a final copy of a comparison/contrast paper.
- Hold up or display two different objects for students to focus on as they explore the meaning of the terms compare and contrast. You might choose two different beverage options (juice versus milk), two candy bars (Milky Way versus Reese's Cups), or two different television programs ( SpongeBob SquarePants versus The Rugrats ). Be sure to choose items which students are familiar with so that the process of comparing the objects will be clearer to them.
- Make two columns on the board or chart paper and invite students to brainstorm characteristics of first one of the objects (e.g., juice) and then the other object (e.g., milk). Invite students to add and revise information as they work, moving between the two columns.
- If students need help building the lists of characteristics, ask leading questions such as "How do you decide which beverage you want to drink?" or "How do you decide which candy bar to buy?"
- Ask students to identify characteristics that are included in both of the columns. Either mark these similarities using a different colored pen, or create a new chart with the column headings of "Comparison" and "Contrast."
- Based on the information in the lists, lead a class discussion on the definitions of the words compare and contrast . Refer to examples on the charts to clarify the difference between the two terms.
- As a class, brainstorm other ways students compare and contrast in their daily lives (sports teams, restaurants, toys, books, etc.). You can do this by pairing students in groups or 2-4 having them compose a list as a group and then as a coming together as a class to share ideas.
- From there, you will brainstorm and generate a class definition of compare and contrast making sure they understand why comparing and contrasting is important by using examples as needed.
Sessions Two and Three
- Use the Comparison and Contrast Guide to review information from the first class session as needed.
- You can decide or allow the class to help you decide two things to compare and contrast for the class essay.
- Use the "Graphic Organizer" tab on the Comparison and Contrast Guide to introduce the Venn Diagram. Alternately, you can use the Compare and Contrast Chart Graphic Organizer if you prefer.
- Open the Venn Diagram Student Interactive . Alternately, you can draw a simple graphic organizer on the chalkboard of a Venn diagram (two overlapping circles).
- Label the circles and brainstorm as a class what is different about your topics and drag the ideas to the appropriate circle and what is the same about your topic and drag those ideas to the overlapping part of the circles.
- Print out the Venn Diagram, and make copies for students to use in later sessions.
- Use the "Organizing a Paper" tab on the Comparison and Contrast Guide and the Compare and Contrast Map to introduce the Similarities-to-Differences structure.
- Open a new word processor file, where you'll compose the first sections of the essay as a group.
- Brainstorm an interesting lead with the class. Have several people give ideas and model for the class how to rearrange ideas and thoughts to come up with the best and most interesting beginning and continue writing as a class from there.
- Demonstrate cut, copy, and paste commands for your word processor software.
- As you write with your class, feel free to delete ideas and change them as better ones come up and reread what has been written before asking for the next idea to be sure that the thoughts flow nicely. Refer back to the Venn Diagram as necessary.
- Use the "Transitions" tab on the Comparison and Contrast Guide to introduce the use of transitional words to increase coherence.
- Save your class draft of the introduction and the section on similarities. If possible, share the file with students, so that they can continue writing the text in their own copy of the file. Alternately, print the file and makes copies for students.
- Ask the students to continue the essay using the beginning that you've written together. They can add the section on differences and the conclusion in class or as homework.
- Use the Comparison and Contrast Guide to review information as needed. Use the "Checklist" tab to explain the requirements for the finished essay. If desired, share the Comparison and Contrast Rubric with students as well.
- Show students how to access the Comparison and Contrast Guide so that they can refer to the resource as they like while writing.
- If students work in class, circulate among students, giving ideas and help.
- Write another comparison and contrast essay, using the whole-to-whole or point-by-point organization explained in the "Organizing a Paper" tab on the Comparison and Contrast Guide .
History historical figures, maps of different time periods, states, time periods, books on the same historical subject Science scientists, weather patterns, plants in habitats Art paintings, artists' lives, different techniques Reading two different authors, two stories by the same author, books on the same topic by different authors, a book and the movie made from it
Student Assessment / Reflections
If possible, it is great to read the essay with the student individually and provide direct feedback. When this option is not available, constructive written comments are helpful. As you read the essays, keep notes on the aspects to review and share with the class later. For more structured feedback, use the Comparison and Contrast Rubric . After you have finished responding to the essays, review them with the class, adding advice as needed. You might go back and model an area where students needed more practice. Alternately, you can use the Compare and Contrast Guide to review the area.
This interactive tool allows students to create Venn diagrams that contain two or three overlapping circles, enabling them to organize their information logically.
Add new comment
- Print this resource
Explore Resources by Grade
- Kindergarten K
How to Teach Compare and Contrast Essays
This article covers step-by-step how to teach compare and contrast essay writing to students using pictures and paired passages.
Sometimes you have to slow down to speed up. When it comes to teaching, compare and contrast essay writing to students, that saying definitely applies.
I’ve learned that spending meaningful time upfront instructing students on how to organize their thoughts and words really pays off.
Pin for later!
Explicitly teach writing
Students can verbally explain how two objects are alike and different fairly easily. However, writing is often a struggle for these same students.
I can tell you that simply assigning more and more writing practice is not the answer.
Instead, students need:
- each step explained clearly
- a way to organize their thoughts
- a structure to guide them
- examples of essays – the good and the bad – to model their writing on and provide direction.
Here are the steps and scaffolding that I use when teaching students to write compare and contrast essays.
Explain the definitions to ensure understanding
First, students need to understand what the words compare and contrast mean.
Compare means to recognize and examine how two things are similar.
Contrast means to recognize and examine how two things are different.
Compare and contrast familiar objects and pictures
I plan at least two days for this activity.
On the first day, practice by comparing two similar items that are familiar to students. Use items they can see and touch, such as earbuds vs. headphones or markers vs. crayons. You can also use pictures of two items, such as a bus vs. a car or a cardinal vs. an eagle.
At this point, comparing and contrasting should be intentionally easy in order to build students’ confidence and skills.
Students should identify important points or characteristics of each item or picture. Depending on your students’ abilities, this can be done together as a group or individually with sticky notes.
Next, use an interactive whiteboard or create a big Venn diagram using chart paper or the chalkboard. Discuss the important points that students identified and decide where on a Venn diagram they should be categorized. Try to find at least three similarities and three differences for each section of the organizer.
On the second day, follow the same plan, but scaffold the activities to provide more independent practice. For example, students can practice comparing and contrasting independently by completing a Venn diagram by themselves. For students who might struggle with independent work, meet with a small group while the others work independently.
Compare and contrast text
The next step is to compare and contrast text, such as stories and passages. Choose two texts that are related in some way, such as similar topics, genres, subject matter, etc.
Moving from comparing and contrasting objects or pictures to paired passages is a big step. This move generally takes a few practice sessions before students feel ready to begin writing an essay. They’ll need more time to compare and contrast the passages and to learn to balance the differences between the passages.
Important Point – Many students tell only how the two things are the same or only how they’re different. Students need to explain both similarities and differences. They also need to balance the differences. For example, if students are comparing animals and a key point from passage A is size, then size should also be listed for passage B on the Venn diagram as a point being contrasted.
For beginners, the general plan for comparing and contrasting paired readings is:
- Read the two texts together as a group.
- Compare and contrast together as a group or individually.
- Finally, model and write the paragraph or essay together as a group the first time through.
Begin scaffolding the lessons by providing opportunities for independent work. Begin doing a bit less as a group and allow students to take on more steps by themselves.
For example, read the texts together but allow students to explore and identify similar and different points from the texts independently.
Continue to use gradual release until students are completing the work independently.
Worth trying – Consider choosing passages right at students’ ability levels or slightly below their ability levels for the first independent practice.
Step-by-step plan to compare and contrast text
The following steps outline the plan I use each year to successfully teach students to compare and contrast using paired passages. I typically introduce the process in January and continue to fine-tune it through the spring.
1. Break down questions and prompts
Model reading and rereading the question or prompt several times. Students must understand exactly what the question is asking them to do.
Take the time to break down every word. Explicitly teach the meanings of words like evaluate , list , explore , explain , etc.
Students should highlight, underline, or circle important keywords from the question. Use those keywords to turn the question into a statement. The statement becomes our topic sentence for writing the essay.
2. Highlight the passages
I instruct students to read paired passages through the first time without marking them up. The second reading is the time is for highlighting, underlining, and circling.
As you begin scaffolding, students can experiment with using one color to highlight similarities and another color for differences.
Advanced students can try marking each important point in a different color. For example, if students are comparing and contrasting two animals, they might underline the size of the animals in pink. They can underline the prey in yellow, etc.
3. Organizing students’ thinking
Now that students have identified the important details, they need to organize them.
Organizers are perfect for compare and contrast questions. Students can practice with Venn diagrams, lists, or other types of organizers.
I’ve debated with other teachers about the merits of having students write complete sentences on organizers vs jotting notes, abbreviations, and ideas. Some teachers feel that students need to get their ideas down on paper quickly and that complete sentences can wait. Other teachers want the organizers to include the hard part of developing complete sentences.
Think it over and decide what’s best for your class based on your students and their abilities.
4. Developing sentences with sentence starters
The topic sentence can and should be developed by using the keywords from the question or writing prompt.
The body sentences can follow a basic formula or recipe. I model writing the body sentences using sentence starters or sentence stems.
Point out to students that everyone’s writing will be worded differently, and that’s perfectly fine. With writing, there are many ways their thoughts can be expressed.
Here are some basic sentence starters:
The first way ___________ and ____________ are alike is ________________________ .
Another similarity between ___________ and ____________ is ___________________________ .
However, a difference between ___________ and ____________ is ___________________________ .
Important Point – In the beginning, students will rely heavily on these sentence stems. With practice, they’ll gradually begin to trust themselves and their own way of expressing ideas. The sentence stems are an important scaffold for beginning and struggling writers. They may need help understanding how to fill in the blanks and with wording their sentences.
5. Developing paragraphs
I’ve found that beginning and struggling writers have an easier time writing separate paragraphs for similarities and differences. For example, after the introduction, focus on a paragraph describing similarities followed by a paragraph or two focusing on differences. This structure is called a block format.
Here’s a typical block format:
- Introduction to items being compared/contrasted
- Body paragraph #1: similarities of items/topics being compared
- Body paragraph #2: differences of item/topic #1
- Body paragraph #3: differences of item/topic #2
- Closing/Conclusion paragraph
The other structure is to compare and contrast the details by alternating point-by-point.
Here’s a typical alternating format:
- Body paragraph #1: similarities and differences of point #1
- Body paragraph #2: similarities and differences of point #2
- Body paragraph #3: similarities and differences of point #3
Decide how you want the paragraphs structured and teach students to follow that structure each and every time. Less sophisticated writers may become confused if you try teaching both structures or if you give them a choice.
6. Remember to use transitions
Finally, I encourage students to use transitions to move from one sentence or point to another.
Transition words help the essay flow and signal to the reader the direction the essay is heading.
Discuss the meanings of transition words with students. I’ve found that many students don’t fully grasp the connotation of transitions. Students also need to learn why one particular transition word may be better suited for a sentence than another.
Final thoughts about comparing and contrasting
Remember – practice makes permanent! The more students practice these skills, the better they’ll become. The gradual release method works very well for this type of writing.
Looking for compare and contrast activities?
Would your students benefit from practicing these skills? You can save yourself time by using my Compare and Contrast Paired Passages Set. This bundle is geared towards grades 2-5 and will save you time spent planning. It includes both printable and digital versions!
Compare and Contrast Paired Passages and Writing Set – Students learn and practice comparing and contrasting informational texts through pictures and paired text passages with posters for support. These passages can be printed or assigned through Google Drive or Google Classroom.
Sentence Starters for Writing and Citing Text Evidence – Sentence stems are the beginnings of sentences. They help students develop high-quality answers when responding to text questions. This mini-poster set is a terrific reference as a bulletin board in classrooms.
Related articles to learn more:
Prepare for Testing with Writing Stems – Writing stems help students answer constructed response questions as they cite evidence from the text. Learn how to use writing stems in your classroom.
How to Teach Students to Cite Text Evidence – This article offers a step-by-step guide for teaching students to identify textual evidence and support answers to text-based questions with text evidence from passages.
You might like this article
If you found this article useful, please follow me at my Teachers Pay Teachers Store , Pinterest , and Facebook ! I’d LOVE to hear from you!
blog article topics:
- Back to School (8)
- Career Exploration (3)
- Classroom Management (11)
- Differentiation (18)
- Digital Learning (3)
- End of the School Year (3)
- Happy Holidays (4)
- Language Arts (12)
- Leadership (2)
- Long Division (7)
- Middle School Math (3)
- Multiplication (11)
- Organization (18)
- Reading (5)
- Student Supports (8)
- Task Cards (3)
- Teacher Binders (2)
- Teaching Tips (35)
- Writing (14)
FIND ME ON TPT!
COPYRIGHT © 2023 · VIEW FULL TERMS · CAFFEINE QUEEN TEACHER
However, teaching 3rd, 4th, and 5th grade students to compare and contrast topics within their writing is an important skill. Scaffolding student writing
Ask: How did I write my compare and contrast essay? Students should respond that you first used the information from your Venn Diagram to write an introduction
Hey, fourth grade. >> This is your fifth and final video lesson of the week. Make sure that you're watching and completing your assignments
The resources below will provide our students many strategies to structure this type of writing. Students will learn that writing a compare and contrast essay
Students are introduced to comparing and contrasting through this writing process teaching model. It includes a sample compare-and-contrast chart
The first sentence in your second paragraph should tell readers how the two things you are comparing are the same. Include specific examples from the two
Teach your students how to write a compare and contrast informative writing essay with this 6-week 4th-grade writing unit.
Describes how to write a compare and contrast essay for my fourth graders. For their assignment, they have to compare and contrast two
Together, students and teacher use charts and Venn diagrams to brainstorm and organize similarities and differences between two objects.
Explicitly teach writing · Explain the definitions to ensure understanding · Compare and contrast familiar objects and pictures · Compare and contrast text · Step-