Thursday, April 14, 2016

Teaching Compare & Contrast: An Easier Way

Hi Friends!
    Long time, no see! If you're like me, this year has just been flying by, and I can hardly believe we are in the final 6 weeks of school.  It's insane!  I feel like I still have SO much to do, and so little time to get it all done.

    Lately, we have been working on comparing and contrasting.  Teaching this skill to first graders is usually the source of a lot of grey hair for me. It can be so abstract to six year olds, and I end up beating my head against the wall.

    We've discussed comparing and contrasting throughout the year in whole group reading lessons, and while my kids "kinda" get it, they weren't showing a lot of mastery.

    I decided to try a different approach, and implemented some small group skill instruction in my Guided Reading groups.

     I started with a mini lesson to review what we already know about Compare and Contrast. Using these posters, I started by having the kids tell me what it means to compare and give me some examples of the similarities in the picture.
Coming up with similarities always seems easier than identifying differences, so we practiced with this card, and then came up some examples at our small group.

Next, we moved on to contrasting.  Using the same format, the children identified the differences they could SEE in the picture.
 I then led a discussion about what differences we might not be able to see.  We have been doing a lot of inferencing, so I wanted to tie that into our skill lesson.

 We reviewed the vocabulary, and then discussed how we can use a Venn Diagram to organize our information. In former lessons, we used giant sorting circles to create Venn Diagrams on the floor, so this was a bit of a review, but I really wanted the kids to have a visual for our activity.

After the mini lesson, we moved onto to our guided practice.  The kids read passages that discussed the similarities and differences of two familiar things, like cars and airplanes for this group.  {Other groups had different topics}

Next, they sorted phrases related to the topic (and found in the passage) for their Venn Diagram.
Here are some examples from my others groups. 
They were reading about bats and birds...
and spiders and insects!
I just loved seeing them go back and actually LOOK FOR and FIND the information!!  Yay, the reading strategies are working!! :)

With my lower group, we used highlighters during our guided practice to locate the similarities and differences.  I read the story aloud, then we choral read for understanding.  Next, we read each phrase and highlighted it to determine where it belonged in our Venn Diagram. Last, we cut and paste!

It was a huge success!!  We've been working through more passages all week!

 Lately, I have been reading a lot about implementing skill groups into small group instruction, and I have to say, I'm loving it!  I have "Reading Groups" where we work on reading strategies, fluency and comprehension, and now I'm working with skill groups, too!

I really look forward to figuring out a great way to mesh the two, but for right now, I'll do what's working :)

If you like the compare and contrast activities, you can get a FREEBIE sample {here}. 

If you are interested in the whole pack, this is what is included, and can be previewed by clicking on any picture.

   As always, thanks for stopping by!!  I hope you can use these activities, or create your own! It's the best way I've found for teaching this skill, and the kids really loved it!! (and not to mention, we got to practice those cut and paste skills, too!)  Happy Day!

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