My students are accustomed to comparing and contrasting lots of things: texts, song lyrics, characters, even menus. A variety of examples helps their practice in the skill improve, not to mention keeping their interest. What they do with this activity is compare an article in their weekly "TIME for Kids" magazine to an actual TIME magazine article (Comparing Magazines worksheet). I like the way the editors at TFK try to relate the articles in each issue just for this purpose. It's fun for the kids to recognize that they're getting some of the same information as adults. With these issues, there were a number of similar articles from which to choose, but I knew the Beatles and the Boy-Band focus in the TIME magazine example would add interest for the kids, especially the girls because the current boy-band of choice, One Direction, is included (TIME and TIME for Kids articles).
I hold up their most recent "TIME for Kids" magazine (in fact we used it in the morning to analyze a news story,) and tell them that we'll be comparing one of the articles in it to an article in another news magazine. I next bring out the TIME magazine. There are surprised looks and one student says, "That's a hard magazine. I can only read the sports parts," and another adds, "It's boring and boring." Despite such "enthusiasm," I soldier on, knowing they'll love what's coming. I tell them there are two articles about the same thing in both of the magazines and it won't be as difficult as they may think.
Next, I turn off the lights and turn on the Smart Board which has a Beatles medley (Watching the Beatles before writing) ready to play on YouTube. Once the music starts, the kids are interested, but still unaware of what's going on. All four minutes aren't necessary to get the point across, about two minutes play before I pass out the "TIME" magazine copies, and tell them they'll be reading articles about the Beatles.
Once we're settled, it's time to begin the reading and comparing. With the Beatles playing quietly on the Smart Board, the kids enjoy the uniqueness of the activity and get down to business (They worked well with the Beatles playing in the background). The headline for the "TIME" magazine is actually, The Boy-Band Blueprint, and the article goes deeper than the one in "TIME for Kids" (Comparing the two texts). It discusses the legacy of the Beatles through the many boy-bands that have followed.
The students are involved and really jump into RI.5.5 as they compare these similar articles while discovering many contrasting elements as well. Using the Comparing Magazines worksheet is such an easy way to help them practice RI.5.5 because they look out for aspects in the examples they otherwise may not have.
Enthusiasm while working encourages productivity -when handled correctly (Jackson 5 interrupted the writing for a short time...). I love including ideas the kids come up with during a lesson- it's empowering for them and adds to the notion that it's their classroom, not just my classroom. To read more on my experience with this, check out my reflection.
After a fabulous lesson experience and a lot of comparing, I asked the kids to turn to those nearby and compare responses, especially with the Venn Diagrams. Although the day was nearly over, we had time for two girls to come up and share their findings (Discussing the Similarities and Differences) as well as record a quick video to describe the activity.
The kids did well with the activity and I'm always on the lookout for examples they'll like to compare and contrast between the two magazines. It's a good idea to collect the TFK magazines from the kids when a really well-aligned article presents itself, so the next group can use the actual magazines. With the TIME versions already a black and white copy it's just nicer.