Similarities and Differences in Text About Animal Helpers

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SWBAT determine the similarities and differences in the authors' perspectives in two texts on the same topic.

Big Idea

Deepen students' knowledge about animals as they analyze text on the same topic.


5 minutes

Common Core Connection and Introduction

The Common Core College and Career Readiness Anchor Standard says students should analyze how two or more texts address similar themes or topics in order to build knowledge or to compare the approaches of the authors.  In the lesson we use two text about dogs with jobs.   In the guided practice I use Amazing Animal Helpers, a leveled reader that came with the reading series and Dog Helps Dolphin  by Elizabeth Carney which is a chapter book. It has real stories and uses examples of how dogs and other animals help people. For the partner work, we just use two excerpts from Read Works (Amazing Animal Helpers and Animal Influence by Chris Hayhurst) about working dogs.  The students do analyze the text layout/structure, but this is only a strategy to help them understand the different messages in the two text, which is the ultimate goal of the lesson.

There are a few strategies to help determine the author's perspective in informational text:

  • Look for key words that show opinion.
  • Text text shows real world examples.
  • The text is told from a third person perspective.

Dog Helps Dolphin has real pictures, first, and third person. The leveled reader is very factual and told from third person. The Read Works text are also third person and present facts.

Lesson Overview 

This lesson begins with the students in the lounge area (Transitions).  I find that my first graders need to move or transition about every twenty minutes.  We are at their desks for guided practice and at center tables for partner work.  The student reflection and guided practice are back at the lounge.

Also in the lesson, students work in heterogeneous ability groups at their desk and center tables (Peanut Butter Jelly Partner).  Common Core promotes peer collaboration and students learning from each other.  This also creates a positive classroom environment.


I show the student the lesson image of the dog and the soldier.  I ask them to discuss why the soldier has a dog.  This is an activating strategy to get the students thinking.  I explain that dogs can have a variety of jobs.  I tell the students how dogs sniff out drugs and bombs, and I tell them how they can help people with disabilities.

I explain that we are going to determine similarities and differences in two text about dogs that have jobs.  These are books that I actually found and the school; we were going to throw them away because they were with an old reading series, but I just took them because I knew they would be great for this lesson.  They are leveled so it makes it easy for me to pair readers to text.

I explain that the lesson goal is to determine the similarities and differences between two text that are on the same topic. I ask my students to repeat the goal, tell a friend, and say it with me.  This makes the lesson goal personal and repetition helps them remember the new information.

Guided Practice

20 minutes

I read the excerpt from Dog Helps Dolphins and the book Amazing Animal Helpers to the class. I am hoping they notice that in Dog Helps Dolphins the author uses real life examples, and quotes the animal trainer. There is more of a personal feel to the way the text is presented. The people and dogs even have names. But, in Amazing Animal Helpers, the content is presented in a factual way with pictures showing dogs working with humans. It is a more formal approach. The author seems less emotionally connected to the text. Working dogs are useful to this author, but the author of Dog Helps Dolphins is very passionate about the dogs. This is what I am hoping my students get out of this section. I do try to have a goal in mind before I begin or we just seem to spin in circles.

I read the class an excerpt from a book Dog Helps Dolphins.  Then the students discuss (Talk to Partner Strategy) the author's perspective from the text. I say, "How does the author feel about dogs and dolphins?" (The dogs are amazing in helping dolphins.) How has this author presented the information? (They use a real experience, first, and third person.) After a few students share their ideas aloud and we discuss how we can combine those ideas to create a nice sentence.  

Then I read the quote from the text, and the students discuss the information based on this sentence.  As I listen I am assessing the students comprehension and analyzing skills. Several students share their ideas, we discuss how the class want to word their sentence, and I write it one the board (Work).

Then I read a text, Amazing Animal Helpers.  I stop after the first page and ask the class to analyze how the authors presentation of the information is different or similar. (No names or quotes). After a discussion of ideas, I write our decision on the board. They are comparing the illustrations on each page I ask them to try to similarities between the author's perspective in each text. I offer my suggestions and try to build upon what they say. I model how to connect and build upon their peers' ideas, because I eventually want them to do this without prompting or support.   The second text shows how important dogs are in helping people in the community.  You may want to pick texts for this lesson that have similar topics.

Partner Work

20 minutes

Every group has the same two text about dogs, Amazing Animal Helpers and Animal Influence.  I give the class ten minutes to read.  Some groups buddy read, some echo read, and others have both partners silently reading.  This scaffolds the instruction so everyone can experience the information in the text.  Check out my video of the student working together (Discussion).

I walk around helping groups get started. I often ask questions to lead them in the right direction.  I question their work so they have to justify and provide text evidence to support their decisions.  Finding evidence in text is a big part of Common Core.

Student Relfection

5 minutes

One way I motivate the students to do their best is by telling them that they can present their work at the end of the lesson.  I line the students up in two lines facing each other.  Line one read their work while line two listens and then they reverse. I go over the rules of speaking and listening prior to the start to make sure they do what I want. I say, "Look at the person talking to you in the eyes, think about what they are saying, and speak loud." I find it is more engaging to allow my students to participate at the same time. 


5 minutes

I ask each student to tell their partner one thing they learned today. I listen and then ask two or three students to share.   This is another opportunity for students to work on speaking and listening.

I think it is important to restate the objective at the end of the lesson to refocus the class on the skill.  I say, "I can determine similarities and differences between two text." Students echo, tell a friend, and then say it with me.