Classroom Freebies

Susan Berkowitz’s Comparing and Contrasting Lesson

Describing, comparing and contrasting are important language and conceptual skills for students to develop in order to access the curriculum.  Much of what we teach involves looking at how people, historical events, chemical reactions, and for some students -  how two toys or animals are the same and different.
The book that I use most often for example purposes is one about a trip to the zoo. (It’s actually called A Trip to the Zoo  ).  I might start off with a describing activity.  We might describe someone in the room, or pick something with which everyone is familiar; preferably something visible. 

The “After” activity will be about describing an animal (or animals) after the purpose has been set for listening to the words the author uses to describe the animals and looking at the illustrations.  I’ll use a graphic organizer to help make the describing visual, and focus on things like size and color and pattern, number of feet, type of “covering” (fur, scales, etc).
Having worked with descriptions, I’ll move on to comparisons.  So now, I’m going to do the picture walk through the book and point out - or have students identify - some similarities and differences between the animals. 
We might do a comparison between two children in the classroom.  Then I’ll set the purpose for them to listen again to the describing words and look at the illustrations and see if they can identify how some of the animals are similar and how they are different.  
The “After” activity is - you got it - comparing and contrasting two animals.  I generally use the tiger and zebra.  That’s easy.  Again, use lots of visuals.  

Above is a picture of what my Venn diagram for this comparison looks like with my students.  Drag the symbols from this post onto your desktop so you can use them with your students, too.
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