Connecting To the Text - Compare Two Stories (Day 2 of 2)

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SWBAT compare & contrast 2 versions of the same story by different authors.

Big Idea

How do these stories compare and can you connect to the ideas?


  • Manana Iguana by Ann Whitford Paul
  • The Little Red Hen by Paul Galdone
  • Venn Diagram (see resources in the other section)
  • 'Connecting Stories' powerpoint   (see resources in the other section)
  • Lesson vocabulary words from the Reading/Writing word wall: connecting, characters, setting, problem, solution, event, verify, version, theme
  • Set up the whiteboard with a Venn Diagram (from the worksheet)
  • Screen to show the YouTube video about the Spanish days of the week


I used this lesson as an assessment because my kids had done quite a bit of connecting and were able to more easily identify text features and understand how to use text evidence. You could use this lesson in isolation instead of an assessment, as well.

Take a look at some of the other lessons that led up to this one, 'Details, Details, Details', 'Key Details and a Theme-Make a Connection', where I used a Venn Diagram and taught the kids about connecting to a story.

The previous lesson, Connecting to the Text-Find the Theme and Details (Lesson 1 of 2) was also part of the assessment for the strategy of connecting. You could also use these lessons without teaching the unit, but students would need more support.

Let's Get Excited

10 minutes

Underlined words below are lesson vocabulary words that are emphasized and written on sentence strips for my Reading & Writing word wall. I pull off the words off the wall for each lesson, helping students understand this key 'reading and writing' vocabulary can be generalized across texts and topics.  The focus on acquiring and using these words is part of a shift in the Common Core Standards towards building students’ academic vocabulary.  My words are color coded ‘pink’ for literature/’blue’ for reading strategies/’orange’ for informational text/'yellow' for writing/’green’ for all other words.

Get students excited: 

  • "I brought some pictures today of animals that are in 2 versions of a story - take a look." Show the powerpoint slides 1-3.
  • "Do you notice the words on the third slide?  What do you think they mean?"


Bring students to a similar starting point

  • "Today we'll be contrasting the versions of 2 stories to see how the authors have a similar theme, but with different characters, settings, problems, events, and solutions."
  • "We'll also connect to these stories to bring in some of our background knowledge, which helps us understand the story better."


I chose to use a powerpoint and pre-teach the names of the animals because they are in Spanish in the Mañana Iguana story. I wanted the kids to have a firm grip on this vocabulary before I read the story. They liked the powerpoint, but most importantly, enjoyed learning the Spanish words.

Teachers' Turn

20 minutes

Explain the task

  • "Today I'll read the classic story The Little Red Hen to you and another version Mañana Iguana."  I used the Elmo for both stories, but you could read it aloud and show the pictures. The reading level of the books is a little high for the students (especially the one with Spanish words), and it would take too long for the kids to read both stories independently.
  • "When I'm done, I'll review the details of the first book ..."  When I do this I reference the literature text elements and make a connection to the story.


  • "As I read, I'll pay attention to the text elements so I am able to compare my story to the other version. Let's review what those are." Review the characters, setting, problem, events, and solution headers.
  • "I have a Venn Diagram on the board. Who can tell me what we use it for and where we write the ideas?"  Take ideas - for comparison, like ideas go in the middle, different ideas go on the outside
  • I read the story The Little Red Hen to the class, pointing to the literature text features as I read.  I didn't write the ideas on the board since it's a familiar story.
    • "Here's a character... point to the character header...the dog." 
    • "I see the problem...point to the problem header...the friends won't help him get the bread ready."
    • "What's the theme of this story? I think it's that 'if you help you get a reward'."
  • As I read, I did take a few moments to mention some of our other reading strategies as they applied.  I continue to model these, even as we move onto new strategies. Reading strategies are not exclusive. The goal is for students to unconsciously use these in combination to better comprehend the text. Here's how I modeled in another reading strategy.
  • "Notice how I refer to the text for my answers. How do I know that the problem is 'no one helps her'?  It says that in the words.  How do I know that one event is 'the hen cuts wheat'?  The words say it and the picture shows it.  I can verify my answer with the book."
  • "Can anyone connect with this story - the characters, problem or solution?"  My kids had some GREAT connections - several mentioned that their brothers wouldn't help them clean up, others talked about making bread....

Guided Practice
  • "Help with with the second story.  I'll read it and we can identify the text features."
  • Read the story.
  • "Who were the characters?  What were some events?  The setting?  Problem? Solution?"  Make sure kids can verify and support their answers.  "How do you know that's the setting? Is it in the words or pictures?"
  • Listen to our character identification in 'Mañana Iguana'.
  • I took ideas verbally from the kids.  I didn't want to write them on the board, because then the kids would just copy what I wrote, although I did write the Spanish names for the animals.
  • "Think to yourselves - what's the theme of this story? Is it the same as the other or a little different?"
  • "Think about how you connect with this story.  Just think in your head for now and you'll have a chance to share later."


I was trying to make the second story more independent, so I didn't write a lot on the board or take too many ideas about connecting to it. I wanted to see what the kids could do themselves.

I'm helping students work toward understanding the Common Core Standard for ELA - comparing and contrasting versions of the same story (RL.2.9), using text evidence as a source.  We are examining the parts in each story to give us a basis for comparison. As students compare stories on a similar topic, they examine text features and look at the theme of different cultural versions. They analyze how 2 or more texts address similar themes to build knowledge.

Students Take a Turn

20 minutes

Explain task

  • Pass out the Venn diagram worksheet
  • "Now we'll compare and contrast stories. Think about what was the same and different about the characters, setting, events, problem and solution. Think about the theme. Was it the same? Fill out your diagram."
  • "At the bottom, there's a place to put your connection. How do you connect to each story. Write just a few words and then we can share."
  • "Remember that ideas should come from the text.  'Text details' verify what is important when we compare and contrast."


Monitor student work

  • As students work, walk around and ask them not only 'what' they are writing, but 'why' they are writing it and 'how' they made that choice.
  • Encourage 'deeper' connections - if students write 'I like bread' have them go beyond that to 'I like to eat bread, but not make it' or 'Bread takes a while to make but I like it.' 
  • Take a look at one of my student's completed worksheets.


Students are examining text to do a 'close reading' of the stories, which is a focus on the Common Core Standards-going beyond a literal understanding ("the story was funny") to a deeper comprehension level ("I connected to the character when was lazy sleeping on the couch") demonstrates a deeper level of understanding.

Some students may need prompting, but allow them to at least put down a few ideas before you step in. I want to hear their reasoning and see if they are using details from the text.

Apply What You've Learned

15 minutes

Sharing & Story Comparison

  • "Who would like to share your ideas with the class? Tell us a few ways the stories were the same or different and share your connection."  Take volunteers.
  • Comment about how the ideas are similar, but there are some differences. "Some of you identified different events. The characters, setting, problems and solutions all seem the same."
  • Ask questions to focus on using text evidence - "How do you know that the snake would not send the letters? Was it in the picture or the text?"
  • "I noticed your connections were REALLY different!  Why do you think that is?" Take ideas - the kids shared that they had different experiences.
  • "Tell me in 'one sentence' how the stories were the same and different?"  I like to challenge the kids to be more succinct, instead of just listing. Some of my kids were able to say things like, 'This seemed like a story from Mexico' or 'This was a story that was an older version'.
  • "What about the theme? Was it similar?  Many times, versions of one story have the same theme."


Apply What You're Learning

  • "We talked about the Spanish names for the animals in the book. Did you notice the other words that were in Spanish. Let me read a few pages again."  I read the pages with the Monday and Tuesday words in Spanish.
  • "What does 'lunes' and 'martes' mean?"  My kids guessed the days of the week.
  • "I thought it would be fun to learn those. Here's a video with the days of the week in Spanish. I'll play it once and then you can try to sing along the second time."  My kids LOVED the video.  I played it 4 times and then sang the song all day!


Scaffolding and Special Education: This lesson could be easily scaffolded up or down, depending on student ability.

This lesson may be difficult for students who have language challenges. I worked closely and prompted those students in a small group.  Other students should be able to work independently, as long as there are prompts on the board.

Raise the expectations for students with more language ability.  They should be able to make some deeper connections and identify the problem and solution with higher language. Instead of 'the hen wouldn't share' I would expect something like...'The hen was angry because she had no helpers so she wouldn't share the bread.'