If you ask students to compare summer and winter, many will find it pretty easy. For instance, summer is warm and winter is cold. Also, the Fourth of July happens in summer while Christmas happens in winter. However, some may have trouble finding several ways on how they are alike outside of being seasons. This is the same difficulty that can happen if students are asked to compare and contrast crocodiles and alligators. When two items or objects are not strikingly similar or different, a deep level of comparison can be challenging. Therefore, it is important to practice this skill in a variety of ways such as with compare and contrast worksheets. Truly, it is a skill that people use almost daily without even realizing it. Thus, it is so important to learn and practice!
Effective Ways to Teach Compare and Contrast
If you ask math teachers about vocabulary, they will often say this is the aspect that students struggle with the most. Unfortunately, it leads to confusion while solving problems because they do not understand the vocabulary in the question. Likewise, this is a similar issue in language arts. For instance, it is tough to remember all the names of figurative language. Also, it can be tough to remember what text skills mean, such as using inferences to figure out something in a story. Therefore, one of the most effective ways to teach compare and contrast is actually using the words compare and contrast. Ultimately, this means NOT just saying similarities and differences. Students actually need time to learn and use the correct terminology, which means the teacher needs to model that. Then, as they get older and work more independently, they will understand what to do when directions state to compare and contrast.
Visual Compare and Contrast
Compare and contrast worksheets provide an incredible visual for students! For instance, the Compare and Contrast Graphic Organizers help ensure students have a solid understanding. Specifically, students can have a graphic organizer and then have two objects or items. For instance, they may have a giraffe and an elephant. As an added twist, you can even put a variety of pictures in a bin. Students can draw out two for their items!
Then, they can compare and contrast the animals or whatever appears on the cards. To help, remind students to look at the pictures to see the appearance but also think deeper. For example, what do the animals eat? What noise do they make? Where do they live? Students will love this visual lesson!
Reading Passage Compare and Contrast
As students start to become more confident, they are ready to dive in deeper. To do this, reading passages are great! As they continue throughout school and life, they will read more. Thus, it will be so helpful for them to practice this essential skill through passages. The graphic organizer resource above also includes reading passages! Students can read nonfiction about two animals and then use compare and contrast worksheets. Then, students can even take their notes and turn them into sentences identifying what they found while using compare-and-contrast worksheets. This is an incredible way to add reading and writing into the focus standard.
Research Compare and Contrast Worksheets
After students work with visual aids, passages, and writing, they are ready to push their thinking even further! Now, they can research two objects, animals, or items, and then compare and contrast. By having the research element, it is okay if they are not sure of a certain item! Therefore, students will see how valuable research is. If students are working above grade level, they may even skip the visual start or the reading passages. Instead, they can spend more time researching to read and learn about different items. Thankfully, the same resource in the previous two suggestions even includes research guides!
Around the Room Search
Students spend a lot of time in their seats. Hence, it is nice to get them up and moving. Since they love to talk, it is great to build in social aspects. Here, students can partner up. Then, they can walk around the classroom, building, or playground. Students will then select two items or objects. Each student will then compare and contrast the two items using compare and contrast worksheets. Students will have a blast practicing compare and contrast while walking around!
Compare and Contrast Task Cards
As students are ready to work in a small group or with a partner, task cards are a great way to keep everyone focused and engaged. In order to practice identifying if items are being compared or contrasted, students can read a situation. For instance, a task card may read: Monday is at the start of the week while Friday is at the end of the week. Then, the students will discuss if they think the days of the week are being compared or contrasted. Even better, push students to discuss why they think that! That aspect can be so powerful!
Compare and contrast can be such a fun skill to practice! Whether using compare and contrast worksheets, task cards, or pictures, students will be so focused and engaged in the lessons. Students will be thankful for all of the practice since this will be a skill used throughout life!
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