Writing to Compare & Contrast

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SWBAT write an informative/explanatory texts that compares and contrasts two stories in a series by the same author.

Big Idea

Students will be able to understand that they can use writing to explain or convey ideas that they have learned or experienced.


10 minutes

Picking up from yesterday's lesson, we will be using our T-Chart of similarities and differences to write about the two stories " Miss Nelson is Missing" and "Miss Nelson is Back" by Harry Allard. As students come in they are given a Comparison & Contrast Card (see resource). In an effort to engage students more, I have been trying to "Hook" them as early into the lesson as I can. In my school we are departmentalized so 3rd graders switch classes like middle and high school students. Although this allows me to concentrate my efforts into planning for one subject, we spend a good bit of time getting students quiet at the beginning of class as they walk in the door. So I've been researching ways to maximize my time and get students involved in the lesson as soon as they come in. Tickets in the door, helps to get them focused and ready to learn.

With this activity, as students sit down they are instructed to fill out the card on both sides. On one side the card asks students to explain or describe a similarity in the events of the two stories in a complete sentence. On the other side, students are asked to do the same with a difference between the two stories. I beef up the task, by telling students to make sure their sentence is interesting and really gets the readers attention. the purpose of this is for students to get comfortable expressing their thoughts about the stories in writing. I circulate the room looking at students' statements and make comments as I go around. When students are finished, I call on several students to share their responses.

Next, I tell students that we will be using our responses in our lesson today to write about the differences and similarities in the story. 

Guided Practice

10 minutes

After sharing students responses, I have students move back into the same collaborative groups students worked in during yesterday's lesson. Students are also given their group T-Charts from yesterday. Today students work with an online tool from ReadWriteThink where they create a short informational text text explains or describes the similarities and differences between the two stories they've been looking at this week. Using my Smart board, I pull up the link to the compare and contrast chart from http://www.readwritethink.org. I go through the tool showing students that they will work together to create an short introductory paragraph that explains to the reader what students will be writing about. I move through the chart explaining to students what their task is.

After they create their introduction, I tell them that they will be writing a short paragraph about how the events are alike. Here is where students are encourage to use their response cards from the beginning of the lesson. Students are asked to use the similarities that each person came up with to write a paragraph that describes the similarities of the two stories. I model on my smart board using a few of the examples that were shared. I enlist the help of the students to help me organize several of the sentences students shared. We next move into the next section where students have to write a paragraph about the differences in the events or plot of the stories. I use some of the students responses to model just like the previous paragraph. Lastly, I explain to students that they need to work together to also complete a closing paragraph for the last box of the template. 

Independent Practice

25 minutes

Now students are ready to begin their writing. Students have already had lots of practice with using the writing process and other writing techniques to write informational texts so I make a few references to the use of their writing strategies, but for the most part, students are working on their own. I circulate to offer assistance where needed. Using the same collaborative model as yesterday, students are assigned jobs to complete the task. The job of Scribe becomes the Recorder because students are now recording their ideas on the web tool from ReadWriteThink. Students in my classroom have a computer at each work station so they are able to use the tool collaboratively in this lesson.  The Researcher is responsible for sharing the T-Chart and using the stories to help write the responses in each section. Finally, the Facilitator, oversees the task using questions to make sure the writing stays on task as well as a new job called the Reviser/Editor. This person along with the rest of the group continuously looks at the responses making sure they are inviting to the reader, written clearly, and grammatically correct (see resources for Job Cards). Together students construct an explanatory text that describes the similarities and differences in the two stories.

Students are also encouraged  to use their response cards from the beginning of the lesson to ensure every student has input in the writing. Students continue working until they are done and ready to share. 

Wrap Up

10 minutes

Once students are finished filling in the template, they are able to save and print them. I call students together as a whole group and allow each group to share their finished product. I ask the Facilitator of each group to share their groups response. I save each groups product to a flash drive and then display it for the whole class so each group can share their product in front of the entire class. Students are given about 3 minutes to share. To see a finished product, see resources. after students share we I ask students to tell me how writing about the similarities and differences helped them better understand the stories. I allow a few students to share and we conclude the lesson. As an assessment, I have students to write a short writing of their own comparing and contrasting the stories and posting them to our class Edmodo group for homework.