Author’s Choice

1 teachers like this lesson
Print Lesson


SWBAT identify basic similarities in and differences between two texts on the same topic.

Big Idea

Your students will enjoy reading and analyzing how two authors address how caterpillars change into butterflies.


Students love butterflies and are amazed how they change from a caterpillar to a butterfly.  As far as we know there is only one way all caterpillars grow and change into a butterfly; however, there are many ways authors write about this occurrence in nature.  In this lesson I wanted two texts that both were on the topic of caterpillars, but were very different in their approaches.  From Caterpillar to Butterfly, by Deborah Heiligman tells this amazing tale in a first person narrative and uses little print woven in the pictures to give more detail.  Laura Marsh, in Caterpillar to Butterfly relays the information in a traditional informational text style. 

Common Core Connection:

In this lesson I wanted to not only identify the similarities in and differences between the two texts, but I wanted them to compare the approaches the authors took.

Lesson Overview:

In this lesson I introduced my students to two different ways authors give information on the same topic.  They then worked in pairs to identify the similarities and differences in the two texts.



5 minutes

We began this lesson on the rug where I had my students review and retell the information they learned about caterpillars and butterflies so far this week.  After my students finished sharing what they learned, liked, and remembered I asked them the following questions:

  • Did all the texts, stories, and resources have the same information?
  • How does an author decide what information to write about and how?

I was pretty sure my students would answer that nearly all the texts and stories included some form of the life cycle, which they did.  I was also pretty sure the second question would be a little more challenging to them.  As they tried to formulate ideas that included, ‘Authors write to the prompt’, I told them today they would read at two different types of informational texts and look at the different ways the authors present the information.

Guided Practice

15 minutes

At this point I had my students take a stretch and sit back down on their rug squares.  As my students settled on the rug I introduced the text From Caterpillar to Butterfly, by Deborah Heiligman.  As I read I instructed my little ones to pay attention to the pictures, the words, and they way Deborah Heiligman wrote about the information given in From Caterpillar to Butterfly.

When I finished reading the text I used the magic cup to select students to tell the class what the topic, main idea, and some supporting deals about the text.  After this activity I had my students stand up and stretch their wings like a new butterfly and slowly flutter to their desks like a butterfly. 

Once settled at their desks I showed them National Geographic Kid, Caterpillar to Butterfly, by Laura Marsh, which they had read the day before.  This is a more challenging text, so having them already familiar with it would help us as we engaged in the high level task of comparing the approach taken by this author with that of today's author.  As I reminded them they had already read this text I held up From Caterpillar to Butterfly, by Deborah Heiligman and told them today they would look at the ways the authors wrote about how caterpillars turn into butterflies.  I then showed them their activity sheet on the Promethean board and modeled first writing the text titles and authors in the appropriate spaces. (see picture: Comparing Text Activity Sheet)  I then held up a copy of National Geographic KidCaterpillar to Butterfly and explained:

  • first they were to re-read it to their partner (I pretended to read it)
  • after re-reading they were to look for 'clues' to how the author gave information (I again looked at the text and noted Laura Marsh included a table of contents)
  • I wrote table of content in the first section under National Geographic KidCaterpillar to Butterfly

I further explained they would do the same for From Caterpillar to Butterfly to help them find how both authors used the same topic, caterpillars changing to butterflies, but delivered the information differently.  Before I gave them their copies I explained that half the class would work in pairs to re-examine how Laura Marsh presented information in National Geographic: Caterpillar to Butterfly; while the other half would work in pairs to re-read Caterpillar to Butterfly and examine how Deborah Heiligman presented the information.  At the end of 15 minutes the groups would trade informational texts to finish the activity sheet.  I did this because I only have six copies of each text.  This is an example of how I solve the problem of not having enough books for each student to have their own, or only six of each text.

To check for understanding I used the magic cup to select a student to restate the directions.  Once satisfied they understood what they were to do I had the helper of the day pass out the activity sheet.

Collaborative Activity

40 minutes

I knew this collaborative activity was going to be a longer one because of the sharing of materials, so I pre-chose the partner pairs.  To do this I matched my highest reading group with the third highest group and my second highest group with the most beginning readers.  There are pros and cons to doing this.  The biggest con is the students want to work with their friends or students in their own reading group.  On the plus side it is a little faster to get them grouped up and not as noisy.

Once paired up I passed out the reading materials and reminded them they were to re-read and look at the way the author presented the information in each text.  As my students worked I circled around to each pair to make sure they were doing their work, understood the directions, or answer any questions they had.  At the end of twenty minutes the pair groups traded places and texts so they could finish the activity sheet.  I continued to monitor their work.

At the end of the second 20 minutes I had my students re-group into the large group and partner share with their table partner about how the two authors presented their information.  To help facilitate this part I posed these questions:  

  • What did you noticed about how the information was presented?
  • What information did you find out from both texts?

When they were finished sharing I used the magic cup to select two table partner pairs to share with the class what discussed.  As these partner pairs shared the rest of the class showed me a thumbs up or down to indicate they noticed the same things.

I was prepared for answers that included one text had a table of contents, the other didn’t.  What I was not prepared for was the use of the term ‘scientific’ and ‘comic’ to describe the pictures!

Independent Practice

15 minutes

After my students finished sharing out about what they noticed about how the information was presented we moved into our differentiated reading groups where my students rotate through reading, writing, and computer centers.  During their journal writing time they were to compare the two texts we had just read.  Before they started writing I reminded my students to use a hook to capture the audience.  The prompt I put on the board: Compare how Laura Marsh and Deborah Heiligman gave information about caterpillars and butterflies.

I always check their journals when they rotate to me.  What I found was that my top readers were more prepared to compare the two texts.  The student in the video clip Journal Check: Highest Reading Group, is a sample of what his group did.  Whereas this student did not start off with a hook, he did compare both texts and authors.  The student in Journal Check: Second Highest Reading Group, had a good start but was not quite finished.  Students who are not finished continue to work on their journals while I check the journals of their group mates. However, the student in Journal Check: Third Highest Reading Group, seemed confident in her writing, she stayed with what was familiar to her.

Ticket Out the Door

5 minutes

To earn a sticker my students had to tell me three details that each author included in their texts.