Similarities in Text about Fish

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SWBAT determine the similarities between two text on the same topic.

Big Idea

Engage students in a complex higher order thinking lesson and provide the support needed to make it fun.


10 minutes

Common Core Connection

I began this unit focusing on similarities and connections between texts on different animals. This is the second lesson, and we are learning about similarities in two text. In the next lesson in the unit, we will begin to focus on the author's perspective in two text about the same topic. There needs to be a series of steps covered and lessons taught before I begin the author's perspective part, because students struggle with analyzing the author's perspective. I am trying to break this standard down into small steps that can be accomplished in one lesson. Each lesson in the unit builds upon the previous in complexity.

The Common Core College and Career Readiness Anchor Standard says students should analyze how two or more texts address similar themes or topics in order to build knowledge or to compare the approaches of the authors.  In this lesson students deepen their knowledge about fish. Students also need to read highly complex text across a wide range of subject areas to develop content and cultural knowledge, and I know the texts in this lesson are challenging because of the topics covered, vocabulary, and sentence complexity.

Lesson Overview

This lesson begins with the students in the lounge area.  I have found that my first graders need to move or transition (Transitions) about every twenty minutes.  We are at their desks for guided practice and at center tables for partner work.  The student reflection and guided practice are back at the lounge.

I also have my students working in heterogeneous ability groups (Peanut Butter Jelly Partner) at their desk and center tables throughout the lesson.  Common Core promotes peer collaboration and students learning from each other.  This also creates a positive classroom environment.

Introductory Activity

I seat students on the lounge and ask them to discuss with their peanut butter and jelly partner how they are similar to me (the teacher).  I explain that being similar gives you a connection.  Mrs. Black and I have three connections.  We work at Learning Way Elementary, have one child, and like horses.

I explain that text have similarities in the information they present. I say repeat after me I can locate the similarities between two text. They repeat, tell a friend, and say it with me. Repetition builds memory and telling a friend makes it personal.

Guide Practice

20 minutes

I seat the students at their desks.  I put the graphic organizer (Board Work) up on the Promethean. 

I read them one book, The Fish Classes by Rebecca Stefoff.

I ask:

  • What does this book tell me using words about fish?
  • What does this book tell me about fish using the illustrations? (We have to use illustrations, because some first graders cannot read. I try to scaffold the delivery so everyone can contribute.)

I then read them a second text, Animals: Mammals, Birds, Reptiles, Amphibians, Fish and Other Animals by Shar Lavine and Leslie Johnstone.  

I ask:

  • What does this book tell me using words about fish?
  • What does this book tell me about fish using the illustrations?
  • What do both books tell us that is the similar or alike?

After each question the students talk to their partner. Then I allow several people to share their ideas. If the class agrees by a show of thumbs up, I add the comments to the chart on the board. Check out my partner talk strategy video (Talk to Partner Strategy).

Partner Work

20 minutes

I allow the students to move to the center tables, which allows students more space to work. Plus, I can have all the materials set up ahead of time.

I pre-select two texts, Starfish by Edith Thacher Hurd and About Fish: A Guide for Children by Cathryn P. Sill and John Sill. Each group get one of each text. I use Read Works, the school library, and the internet to find interesting text for the students to read.  I find that engagement depends on interesting text.   One the graphic organizer the questions are not listed so the students can write in the ones I write on the board. The students do not have to add the question to their work, but I do try to use text dependent questions: How do the author's both use the illustrations to show the content? What are both author's trying to say about fish? When selecting text dependent questions I try to think of questions that can only be answered by that specific text. I also try to make them very specific.

Students fill in the graphic organizer (Similarities Chart).  I walk around and ask questions depending on their work (Student Work):

  • What do both text say about fish that is the similar?
  • Are there some words or phrases about fish that are the similar in both text? 

Student Reflection

5 minutes

We move to the lounge and I allow the students to practice their speaking and listening skills (Student Work).  I go over these rules for myself and for my students.  We chant, "Criss cross apple sauce pockets on the floor hands in our lap talking no more." Then I say, "Remember to keep your eyes on the speaker, think about what they are saying, and be prepared to give them feedback. It keeps me from having to correct any behavior.  I ask volunteers to present because I know this lesson was challenging.  I want students that feel confident to model their work.  This creates a positive environment in the classroom.


5 minutes

Students write one thing they learned today about finding similarities in two text on a sticky note and place it on the exit ticket poster.  I hope they remember to look for similar words, but we have a discussion. I share what I wanted them to remember and that we will build upon this skill to learn more complex skills.  I say,  "I can find similarities in two text."  The learners echo, tell a friend, and say it with me.