Monday, February 16, 2015

An Engaging Week of Compare and Contrast

One of my favorite skills to teach is compare and contrast. There are so many different resources that you can use and lessons that you can teach, and it really is one of those skills that I find to be a lot of fun to do. I don't think I've ever taught it the same because I have so many different ideas that I want to try!

You might think that fifth graders have compare and contrast down, but I get a lot of blank stares when I say "Venn diagram" for the first time so I assume nothing. I start with the basics (What do compare and contrast mean? What key words and phrases are associated with each?). Day 1 includes an anchor chart and interactive notes with the key words and phrases for compare and contrast. I also read a short passage, highlighting key words as I read to demonstrate how key words and phrases may be presented in their reading.

On day 2, I introduce Venn diagrams. I use another short passage that offers comparing and contrasting aplenty. I read the passage, highlighting the key words and phrases from the day before, and then after I read, I model filling in the Venn diagram. I give students a notes page with the Venn diagram that explains how it used.

This year, I tried a different approach to engage students in their adventure with a Venn diagram. After I modeled the Venn diagram and gave them their work, I gave each student a blank Venn diagram with a twist: I put my the pictures of my teammate and I on the diagram! I asked students to fill the diagram in with similarities and differences that they already know of between us. Then I collected the Venn diagrams from the students.

On day 3, I give each student an informational passage about my teammate and I. We wrote paragraphs about ourselves that focused on the same things so that students would notice those things that were the same and different. Students were asked to read the passage, and then fill in a new Venn diagram with the information that they learned about us.

On day 4, students used the information from their two Venn diagrams to compose compare and contrast paragraphs that highlight our similarities and differences. This gave them the opportunity to create their own writing and use compare and contrast words and phrases in their writing.

On day 5, I introduced students to the different types of question stems for compare and contrast to show them the different ways that compare and contrast questions might be composed on a test. I then returned their writing from the day prior and gave each student an index card. On that index card, I direct them to write two questions about their writing, one on each side, using the question stems to structure their questions. After their two questions have been written, the students partner up. They give their partner their writing and index card. Their partner reads their writing and then responds to their questions.

I gave a quick assessment at the end of that week and they ROCKED it. There's always more practice to be done, but I was really pleased with their week and progress. It was engaging and fun for everyone and that's always the best learning of all!

If you want to grab all of these interactive notes and resources for the activity, I've put it together and have it available in my store. Click on the image below to view the product.

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