Lesson: Non-fiction Text Structures: Main Idea: Compare/Contrast (Lesson 4)

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Lesson Objective

Some texts have a compare/contrast organization. Some focus on telling both how two things are the same and different. You can outline this organization in a T-chart or Venn diagram.

Lesson Plan

Lesson 4:

Standard: Identify and use knowledge of the organizational structure of a text: main idea and supporting examples (web), chronological order (chain), compare and contrast (T-chart), cause and effect (chain), problem/solution (T-chart).

Use text structure to identify the main idea and supporting details in articles.


Big Idea:  Writers help their readers understand the text by organizing their text in logical ways so readers read non-fiction texts differently, depending on their structure.

Writers write non-fiction to teach the reader about one main idea.  It is the job of a reader to figure out the main thing that the writer is trying to teach you.  You can use the organizational structure to figure out the main idea in nonfiction.   


Teaching Point: Some texts have a compare/contrast organization.  Some focus on telling both how two things are the same and different

You can outline this organization in a T-chart or Venn diagram.


Reading binders, highlighters and pencils, copies of “How Different are Boys and Girls?”, non-fiction articles

Note: "How Different are Boys and Girls?" can be found in a 2008 ASK Magazine: http://cobblestonepub.com/book/ASK0805.html


Reading Workshop Lesson:

  • [Review big ideas on chart from lessons 1-3]
  • Readers, we started this unit on nonfiction organization by talking about the sequence organization.  We know that authors use a sequence organization when their main idea is about things happening in order.  Now we have learned that authors use a compare/contrast organization if their main idea is about how things are the same and how they are different.
  • Today, we are going to talk about another article that has a compare/contrast structure.  It is going to be your job to figure out what we should write on the circles, how we should outline it, and what the main idea of this article is.
  • You will also be starting an open response about this article when we finish reading. I am going to put up the question so that you can find the supporting evidence as you read the article. [Put up OR topic.]
  • Pass out “How Different Are Boys and Girls?”  What should we do first?  [Read the title and then look at graphic features and read all the captions]  So what does it look like this article will be about?   Let’s read the introduction.  Is the main idea clearly stated in this introduction like it was in the article we read yesterday? [Nope, but there is a question and the answer to that question is probably the main idea!  So at the end of the article, we can answer that question.]  Do we know what is being compared and contrasted?  What should we label the circles?
  • So let’s read this article.  We’ll stop at the end of each section to think about what we should add to our outline.  [Do that.  Also discuss that the information in the text box is interesting, but that it should not be included in the outline because it is not directly related to the main idea or it would have been in the text instead of in a text box.]
  • So what is the main idea?  [Boys and girls aren’t very different, but scientists are studying what causes the differences they have found.]  Why did the author have to organize this as a compare/contrast text?  [because otherwise, she wouldn’t have been able to make this point that the two sexes are mostly the same, but that there are a few differences.]   
  • Now we are going to come back to our open response topic: “What have scientists learned about the differences between boys and girls?” Take out a piece of lined paper from the “Writing About Reading” tab in your reading binder, write down the date and title, then copy down this question correctly. Have students go through and highlight the evidence that supports what scientists learned about the differences between boys and girls. Share out. Then T&T to come up with a specific topic sentence. Give students time to finish writing their OR. Collect their papers and make sure they put the article back in the “Non-Fiction” section of their binders.  
  • [Send students off to read their non-fiction articles. They should be identifying their articles as sequence or compare/contrast, writing an outline, and writing the main idea of the article at the top. I am going to start conferencing with students on choosing non-fiction books if I think that they’re ready to work with longer texts.]
  • Share: Share what you think the organizational structure of your text is.

Lesson Resources

Lesson 4 Non-Fiction Chart and Open Response.docx  


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