It's In the Bag: More Comparing and Contrasting

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SWBAT compose a compare and contrast paragraph with both a topic and concluding sentence.

Big Idea

Students need to move beyond the Venn diagram tool to be able to compare and contrast objects.

Sacking the Concept: Introducing the Activity

10 minutes

When students enter the classroom, they find white paper sacks on their tables with a card that says, "Do Not Touch", which of course sparks all kinds of questions.  I put off all their questions until the room is quiet and everyone has entered and is ready to begin.  I tell them that today we are going to compare and contrast objects we can't see.  One of my more vocal students calls out, "How can I compare and contrast something I can't see?"  To which another vocal student calls out, "We're going to FEEL the objects."  I love when my students are so smart that I don't have to explain!!

I tell them to open their reading notebooks to the next two blank pages and create a T chart on the left side.  One one side of the T chart, they should write "Object 1" and on the other side of the T chart they should write "Object 2".  At this point, I tell the students that we are going to feel the objects and record words to describe each one.  

I lay down the one rule:  NO LOOKING IN THE BAG!!!  Holding one of the actual bags, I model how to hold it and feel the objects without looking in the bag.  I also model some words to describe each object.  After the modeling I allow one student from each group to come choose a bag and they begin.

Left Holding the Bag: Comparing and Contrasting

20 minutes

As students begin to reach into the bag I hear a lot of "surprised" noises!!  There were all kinds of textures in the bag which is the why I chose the items I chose- squishy, cold, rubbery along with hard, and bumpy.  

I walk around the room listening to conversations.  At one point, I had to stop the students because they were all trying to guess what was in the bag.  Ahhh... not clear directions!!  I had to remind them that they were not trying to guess what was in the bag- in fact we don't really even CARE what's in the bag.  We were simply trying to find words to describe each object and record them on our T chart.  

With that all taken care of, the students continue feeling and recording.  

Opening the Bag: Writing the Paragraph

20 minutes

After all the groups have had ample time to feel the objects and complete their T chart, I instruct them to begin writing their paragraph comparing and contrasting the two objects.  I remind students to use yesterday's examples of topic sentences and concluding sentences if they get stuck.

After about 15 minutes, we have some volunteers share and then I collect the notebooks for a grade.

The culminating part of this activity and certainly the most exciting was allowing the students to look in the bag.  At THIS point, we talk about what was in their bag and if anyone knew.  Of course, they ALL did!!!