On the first day of school I begin reading Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing by Judy Blume. With the great characters and easy connections students can make is makes a great book for introducing, modeling, and teaching of comprehension skills and strategies.
Students were shown and practiced using a Venn diagram to compare and contrast texts and characters. We did an earlier lesson on Johnny Appleseed and Paul Bunyan. I feel that revisiting and connecting lessons helps students make the strategy more concrete. It allows students to see the importance of what is being taught by establishing relevance throughout other lessons.
To open this lesson I am going to ask students what they remember and if they could teach anyone else about the lesson. So as a class I am asking them to rebuild the previous lesson on those Tall Tales from memory. I only offer prompts to help them piece it together. The fun part of this is that students work collaboratively to complete the opening.
When I did this lesson, students did a very good job of remembering the details that surrounded it. However, they could not remember that the graphic organizer they used was called a Venn Diagram.
This activity is for student practice. I also use it as an evaluation piece to see if they are ready to use this method to compare other topics and texts. I am looking for a clear Venn Diagram and that each student be able to fill in the pieces accordingly.
I do not use a worksheet for this. I have done it on white boards before to save paper. This time I am worried about how well some of my students compare and contrast within the diagram. I am asking them to complete their Venn Diagram on a piece of scratch paper. It then is easier for me to assess how students are understanding the task.
Once every student gets a sheet I ask them to create a Venn Diagram. I do a quick scan around the room to see how many students are unsure of or don't know what I am talking about. I draw an example for them after I have looked around.
On my example I label one circle Peter and the other one Me. I ask them to fill in three details in each section comparing and contrasting themselves to Peter. I remind them that comparing is looking for likeness and contrasting is looking for differences. I also show them the three areas they should have their information written in. Most students remember that the middle is for comparing and the outer portion is for contrasting. They just don't use that type of vocabulary. So I use it to model.
I now step away and let them fill in their diagram. Again, I am looking for a clear diagram that includes three details in each section.