Favorites! What topic could be better for a kid? They LOVE to talk about them! As a way to practice RI.5.5, comparing and contrasting the overall structure of ideas in two or more texts, I wanted the kids to concentrate on a simple topic that they knew better than anyone else- comparing and contrasting two of their favorite ideas from the same topic. Without using texts in this practice, it gives students an opportunity to focus on the act of comparing and contrasting and creating a useful Venn Diagram before making the task more complex with text.
On the Smart Board I've written out a Comparisons page that looks like the activity they'll do in a few minutes (Practice on the Smart Board). I ask them, "What's a great topic?" One of the kids volunteers Soccer. I redirect his thinking by saying, "That'll make a great item for comparison, so what topic would Soccer fall under?" The answer: SPORTS which is perfect. Next question, "Now that we have Soccer, what sport should we compare it with?" The answer is Basketball, and we go from there filling out the similarities and differences between the two sports. I remind them that a Venn Diagram is a perfect way to display this information, and they'll be making one on a separate piece of paper.
This model shows the kids what they need to do. I tell them to pick a favorite topic and go from there.
I don't give the kids the opportunity to brainstorm with friends or those around them because I want this to be an individual activity- until the sharing portion. There is a huge variety of ideas, and not many kids use the examples I give: Video Games or Bands, as I expect. What a nice change from the typical, "What should I write about?" kids at the beginning of the year! Instead, it's fabulous to see them identifying with the activity their own way- by carefully contemplating interesting ideas for comparision. The range of ideas is exciting to see, and really fun when the kids present to their classmates. It's not surprising that the more I give them choice, the better they like the assignment.
I pass out the Comparing Typical 5th grade Favorites worksheet and they begin the brainstorming process. Once a topic is declared, the students write down two ideas within that topic in a Venn Diagram. They come up with a lot of similarities and differences and focus on every aspect of their two categories (Working on their Venn Diagrams). As mentioned on the worksheet, they should then come up with a third idea within the topic and create a new Venn Diagram that includes it. After completion, I ask them to give their Venn's another "once over" before turning them into the bin (Looking over her paper) so they'll be ready for sharing when the time comes.
Here are some examples:
After they've had the chance to compile lists, answer the questions, and add an extra component for comparison, it's time to present their papers and Venn Diagrams either in pairs or groups. I like to change up the way they receive each other's information- often it's whole class, but sometimes it's great just to make it casual and talk papers through with classmates.
At the end a few still volunteer to come forward and present (Describing her Comparisons). I love their enthusiasm. They started out with two ideas to compare, and it's a challenge to include that third one, everyone's eager to hear what's been added to the mix of favorites!
*Just a note- this lesson took place during Spirit Week in case anyone is wondering about my "football player girl," and the black under her eyes.