How do you teach your students how to compare and contrast? When students first get started, it’s much simpler to compare two objects they can visualize. As you dive into the comparison of texts, it gets a little bit more complex. Instead of comparing physical attributes and things the kids can see, you’re comparing ideas and things they have read. It sounds intimidating, but with more practice, students will catch on and be able to compare and contrast text in front of them much easier. Let me show you!
What Do You Compare in Texts?
When comparing texts, there are tons of things to discuss. Usually, students will read one text and discuss it in depth. Then, they will read another text and discuss it in as much depth. Finally, they will discuss the similarities and differences between the two texts. Here are some things that teachers have their students compare!
- Characters – Students discuss the characters and how they act or behave similarly. They might find huge differences in the characters or characters who mirror one another in each text.
- Themes – While reading, have students pick out common themes that carry through the whole story.
- Settings – Each story has a setting, so talking about these differences makes a difference in comparison of texts.
- Point of View – Some stories are told in the first person and others in the third person. Help students find those differences.
- Main Idea – Themes are usually consistent throughout a story, but they might differ from text to text.
- Patterns of Speech – Many texts have similar tones, while others are completely different.
These are just some of the comparisons that can be made after reading multiple pieces of text. Students will surprise you and find many commonalities and differences between the texts they are reading. Use the students to brainstorm more ideas. It makes for a fun class activity.
How to Teach Comparison of Texts
When choosing which texts to use while comparing and contrasting, there are a few things you should consider. For starters, choose texts that help students use their higher-order thinking skills. You want your students to think beyond the text to the themes and core importance of what they are reading. Students should be able to read and comprehend the text beyond the words.
Comparison of texts is best taught in whole groups where the class can hear one another and their ideas. Over time, implementing them in small groups is a great idea to build on skills learned. Students learn from modeling, so let them give one another ideas as they get used to comparing and contrasting.
Implementing Comparison of Texts
Trying to choose your appropriate texts? It can be tricky to find questions or prompts that get students thinking during a lesson. Use some of these tips while choosing stories or books to compare.
- Compare two fiction stories that have a very similar theme.
- Compare two stories that help students with the same or similar reading skills.
- Compare a fiction and nonfiction passage.
- Compare a fun story and an interesting poem.
- Compare two nonfiction texts that have similar main ideas or the same main ideas.
- Compare two novels or books (picture books work, too) that have similar characters and themes.
- Compare two accounts of major events.
- Compare two nonfiction passages with similar topics that focus on different details.
As you begin comparing different texts, you’ll find it easier to choose two passages or books to pair together in the future. You don’t have to pair passages with passages. Have students compare and contrast a passage to a novel, or a poem to a short story. There are so many different combinations to work with.
Books to Use with Comparison of Texts
I came up with a list of book comparisons you will love using with your upper elementary students! Here are just a few.
- Goodbye Winter, Hello Spring by Kenard Pak and An Ordinary Day by Elana K. Arnold
- So Big and So Small by John Coy and King Kong’s Cousin by Mark Teague
- A New Home by Tania de Regil and Wagons Ho! by George Hallowell and Joan Holub
Questions to Ask While Comparing Text
If students aren’t able to come up with similarities and differences on their own, there are some questions you can ask to get them thinking. Here are some great ideas to get you started.
- What is the overall setting of the story?
- What is the author’s purpose in this passage?
- Describe the theme of the story.
- What are the protagonist or antagonist’s goals?
- Is there a common theme between the two pieces of text?
- How did the characters solve their problems differently?
- What are the main differences between these two texts?
You might also ask students to point out pieces of text evidence while they are reading. Use the text evidence to prove the comparison of texts.
You and your students will love using these fun ideas for comparing texts. While diving into a comparison of texts, let your students take the lead. Let them show you the similarities and differences they find after reading the stories.
If you want more reading and writing ideas for the classroom, try some of these posts!
- 60 DESCRIPTIVE WRITING PROMPTS FOR THE CLASSROOM
- 5 HELPFUL READING COMPREHENSION STRATEGIES FOR UPPER ELEMENTARY
- NARRATIVE WRITING PROMPTS FOR ELEMENTARY ELA