Since I had already introduced compare and contrast to my fourth graders, they already had a copy of the anchor chart in their reader's notebooks. We keep the anchor charts in our notebooks, so that we can keep referring to them. To begin this lesson, we reviewed the anchor chart and what it means to compare and contrast. I find that it is much more meaningful to the students when they look it up for themselves, as opposed to me telling them the answers.
Once we had reviewed our anchor chart, I introduced the first text. I chose Three Names because it is about life on the prairie and also happens to be by the same author as Sarah, Plain and Tall! Now doesn't that just work out perfectly?! (You may recognize the book from my lesson on inference as well. It really is a great book!)
For the second text, I chose a short story called Montana Prairie Sisters. Both of these texts were about children growing up on a prairie and attending school in a one room schoolhouse. One is a fictional story, whereas the other is nonfiction.
The students read Montana Prairie Sisters independently. As they read, they highlighted the similarities between the two texts. We discussed these similarities together, and students added to their highlighting if necessary.
Next, we completed a graphic organizer comparing and contrasting the two texts. (If you would like your own copy of the graphic organizer, click the image above.) The students have a great deal of experience using Venn Diagrams, but I noticed the state tests occasionally use tables for comparing and contrasting. For this reason, I decided to create a table for this graphic organizer. I chose to focus on genre, point of view, setting, characters, and plot.
These two texts worked very well for comparing and contrasting. They were very similar, but also quite different. Basically, the fundamentals of the stories were almost identical, the major differences occurred in how the stories were told.
I hope you give this different style of graphic organizer a try. Do you use anything besides Venn Diagrams for comparing and contrasting?