Compare and Contrast Nonfiction

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SWBAT: compare and contrast aspects of Ellis Island and Angel Island from reading a nonfiction text.

Big Idea

In this activity, great for a sub or after state testing, students will read a nonfiction piece and complete Venn Diagrams.


10 minutes

In order to build vocabulary for comprehension for the text, we use visual strategies to learn the vocabulary. In order to not bombard my students, I chose only four words for them to work through: majority, barracks, detainees, and barriers.

I also stressed the importance of sharing collectively. I told them that some students might have more background information about a word than another student, and sharing might help all of us. So after each student completed all four words, we had a Turn N' Talk.


25 minutes

This lesson is from Teaching Students to Read Nonfiction, by Alice Boynton and Wiley Blevins. After I felt like we had a handle on the vocabulary, I read the Coming to America article out loud to my students, stopping to think aloud. Mostly I stopped at parts that felt important--like reiterating the number of immigrants who came through each station yearly.

I also felt that it was important to show my students how the text features helped my understanding of the text. I stopped at each text feature, and modeled how to read it and then was sure to make a point of paraphrasing the concept in the feature, like, "Wow, it looks like 1920 was a really big year for immigration from China!"

Then, I wanted to release my students to see if they could fill out the Venn Diagram on their own. The diagram asks that they Compare and Contrast Ellis Island and Angel Island in the past and today, so there are actually two separate Venn Diagrams. I was circulating to support as needed.