What are students learning?

Reading Informational Text

Grade 8: English Language Arts

Inclusive Big Idea #9: Analyze information across texts

Standard: Analyze a case in which two or more texts provide conflicting information on the same topic and identify where the texts disagree on matters of fact or interpretation. RI.8.9

How could I teach this?

Think about how instructional strategies and activities can give students multiple ways to engage with learning. One way won’t work for all, so how can you remove and reduce barriers for all students?

  • Venn Diagram Study: Use a Venn Diagram to compare texts that address the same topic (e.g., Venn Diagram to compare two articles about Lincoln). See this TIP Sheet for more information on graphic organizers.
  • Sort to Understand: Provide information on a topic from two texts. Have students sort one author’s information from another’s.
  • Reading for a Purpose: Prime students by providing specific information to listen for as a text is read. Provide guiding questions after paragraphs or sections of the text are read aloud.
  • Informational Data Charts: To keep track of how information across multiple texts is similar and how it is different, model how to create an informational data chart (similar to the one below). After filling out the chart, students can use the digital or paper graphic organizer as a discussion point to compare and contrast how two different texts address one similar topic. They can collaborate or work on their own and may have some choice in the topic they select to compare using two texts.
    • Text #1
      • Topic Addressed: Tornadoes
      • Region: Midwest U.S.
      • Types of Tornadoes: Addresses all types of tornadoes
    • Text #2
      • Topic Addressed: Tornadoes
      • Region: Around the world
      • Types of Tornadoes: Only focuses on the most damaging types of tornadoes
  • Instructional Conversations: Individually, in small groups, or with the whole class, engage in a conversation about how multiple texts address a topic. Activate background knowledge by asking students to record or share their own point of view about a topic using their own experience and what they’ve learned from the text. Provide direct information about the topic to build their knowledge, Information can be in the form of text, illustrations, pictures, objects, or multimedia. Model how to ask different questions about the topic and discuss the topic-- specifically noting their point of view. Show students how to support their ideas by using information they learned from books or other multimedia sources. See this TIP Sheet for more information on Whole Group Discussions. Provide sentence stems or prompts, such as
    • What information did you learn from Text #1? Text #2?
    • How were the different texts similar?
    • How were the texts different?
    • How does the text support (insert inference here)?
    • What is your opinion about this?
  • Think Aloud: Read aloud a text to your students. As you read, explain how multiple authors address a similar topic in similar/different ways. See this TIP Sheet for more information on how to model using a Think Aloud.

Don’t stop here! Remember to reduce barriers for all students.

Make reducing barriers a process - take a few minutes to think about your process! Is there a barrier related to:

  • interest or engagement? Think about how to incorporate student’s lived experiences, culture, and interests… 
  • background knowledge? Think about how to highlight key ideas and define key vocabulary… 
  • showing what they know? Think about having options for how they use learning tools and technology to communicate…

For example, one possible barrier is the amount of information that a student needs to hold in mind.

Ideas to reduce this barrier could include:

  • be aware of how much sensory input occurs at once, perhaps offer the option to use headphones
  • show examples and provide answers to check along the way
  • provide templates or graphic organizers
  • allow use of spell checks and other tools 

Use these Inclusive Strategies to help reduce barriers.

Tell me more about this Inclusive Big Idea (I need a refresher)

Brush up on the content of this Inclusive Big Idea. It will help you and your colleagues to understand and teach this content better.

  • The Big Idea: Analyze information across texts
  • Tell me more about… Analyzing Across Texts
    • When gathering information about a topic, students read multiple texts and pull together an understanding of the topic. Reading multiple texts on the same topic requires students to be able to determine when information from multiple sources are aligned, if and/or when it contradicts other information, and when a source provides unique information. To be successful with this activity, students need to be able to compare and contrast texts written by different authors, then create a summary that integrates all the information.
  • Tell me more about… Elements of Texts
    • Elements of a text are, essentially, the parts of a text. These elements present information in a logical way to enable readers to easily follow the text. Knowing this can help students to compare and contrast. Some elements are internal and organize the way the content information is presented in a text. Others are external and are features that signal important information within a text.
  • Tell me more about… Text Features
    • Text features make the text more accessible to the reader and often provide additional information to help students comprehend the content. Text features are various ways of manipulating and placing text to draw attention to or emphasize certain points or ideas (e.g., bolding or boxing questions, italicizing key vocabulary, listing, bulleting, numbering). Understanding how to navigate through informational text, quickly find key concepts, and identify what the author feels is most important are essential for effective readers. Some of the most important text features include:
      • title
      • table of contents
      • photos
      • captions
      • diagrams
      • headings
      • subtitles
      • bold print
      • timeline
      • glossary
      • index
    • Before reading, text features can also be used to help students evaluate the text and make predictions about what they will read. During reading, point out different text features and think aloud what information you can gain from each. Saying, for example, “When I look at this diagram that shows the different layers of the Earth, I read the labels and can see how thick each layer is. Then, when I read in the text about the Earth’s core, I can look at the diagram and have a better understanding of where it is in relation to the other layers.”
  • Tell me more about… Informational Text Structures
    • When readers interact with the text to create meaning, it is helpful to have an awareness of the organizational structure of what is being read. For instance, students learn to be aware of cues that alert them to specific text structures such as main ideas and details, a cause and its effects, and/or different points of view. Teaching students to recognize common text structures can help them focus their attention on key concepts and relationships, anticipate the content of what they will read, and monitor their comprehension. Additionally, when students are aware of the text structures, they connect information with their prior knowledge, increase their reading speed, and retain information better. Finally, students who develop an understanding of text structure are more likely to apply their knowledge to their own writing.
    • Internal Text Structure: These text structures refer to the ways in which information within a text is organized to convey the content. Some texts are organized using more than one text structure. Text structures offer important clues that organize the text in predictable and understandable ways.
    • Text Features (External Text Structures): These text structures physically organize and signal information in a text, such as headings, illustrations, bold or highlighted terms, and notes. These call attention to essential information within a text. External text structures help readers identify key ideas and details within a text. This supports comprehension by alerting students to the most relevant information and helping them locate information in a text.
    • Description: The author explains a topic, idea, person, place, or thing by listing characteristics, features, and examples. Focus in on one thing and its components
      • Example: Many things must be taken care of to get ready to go back to school. For example, one thing to do is prepare your classroom. Another is to organize your materials. The most important thing to do to be ready to go back to school is plan engaging lessons for students.
      • Signal words include: for example; characteristics are; such as; looks like; consists of; for instance; most important
      • Look for the topic word (or synonym) to be repeated throughout the text.
      • Description Question Stems:
        • What specific person, place, thing, event, or concept is being described?
        • How is the topic described? (How does it work? What does it do? What does it look like?)
        • What are the most important attributes or characteristics?
        • How can the topic be classified? (For example, a robin can be classified as a type of bird.)
    • Sequence: The author lists items or events in numerical or chronological order. Sequence describes the order of events or how to do or make something.
      • May present a timeline, a cycle, or steps/directions
      • Signal words include: first, second, third; next; then; after; before; prior to; not long after; while; meanwhile; simultaneously; at the same time; following; finally; at last; in the end; on (date); at (time); directions
      • Sequence Question Stems
        • What sequence of events is being described?
        • What are the major events or incidents that occur?
        • What are the steps, directions, or procedures to follow? (What must be done first, second, etc.?)
        • What is the beginning event?
        • What other events or steps are included?
        • What is the final outcome, event, or step?
    • Compare/Contrast: The author explains how two or more things are alike and/or how they are different.
      • Signal words include: differs from; similar to; in contrast; alike; same as; as well as; on the other hand; both; either, or; not only, but also; yet; although; but; however; on the other hand. Also look for “-est” words: best, fewest, tallest, etc.
      • Compare/Contrast Question Stems
        • What items are being compared?
        • What is it about them that is being compared?
        • What characteristics of items form the basis of the comparison?
        • What characteristics do they have in common; how are these items alike?
        • In what ways are these items different?
    • Cause and Effect: The author lists one or more causes or events and the resulting consequences or effects. The purpose is to explain why or how something happened, exists, or works. Often there will be an “if/then” pattern
      • Signal words include: reasons why; reasons for; if...then; as a result of; therefore; because of; so; since; in order to; leads or leads to; effects of; caused by; result; outcome; impact; influenced by; brought about by
      • Cause and Effect Question Stems
        • What happened?
        • Why did it happen? What was the reason for…?
        • What was the effect(s) of the event? What happened as a result of…?
        • What were the results or outcomes caused by the event?
        • In what ways did prior event(s) cause or influence the main event?
        • Will this result always happen from these causes?
    • Problem and Solution: The author states a problem and lists one or more possible solutions to the problem. May also include pros and cons for the solutions.
      • Signal words include: problem is…; dilemma is…; puzzle is…; solved; question; answer; because; since; this led to; the main difficulty; one possible solution is…; one challenge…; therefore; this led to, so that; if...then, thus
      • Problem and Solution Question Stems
        • What is the problem?
        • Who had the problem?
        • What is causing the problem?
        • Why is this a problem?
        • What is wrong and how can it be taken care of?
        • What solutions are recommended or attempted?
        • What can be improved, changed, fixed, or remedied?
        • What are the pros and cons of the solutions offered?


Looking for more suggestions? Target student common misconceptions, build on interdisciplinary links, and implement strategies and supports across multiple lessons or units.

Common Student Misconceptions

  • Building Background Knowledge: Many teachers assume students already know about a topic based on their age or what they should have learned in a previous grade or class. When background knowledge is not built or activated, students will lack the schema to understand new material and may not effectively learn and understand the topic or concept. Background knowledge can be built directly and indirectly. Experiences such as field trips, video clips, class activities, or simulations may effectively build relevant background knowledge.
  • Fact versus Opinion: When comparing aspects of stories, students should base their comparisons in facts about the topic, not in their opinions about the topic.
  • Science and Social Studies: students can read multiple articles on the same topic and integrate the information into one summary.

Everyday Connections

  • Let’s Chat! Students can discuss common topics and share information they’ve learned from multiple sources (e.g., television shows, magazines and newspapers, and from peers).

Explore other Inclusive Big Ideas to think about the content you are teaching. How can you connect what you are teaching now to what has been taught before or what will be taught in the future?

Other TIES resources:

Inclusive Big Ideas: Standards-based resources for inclusive classrooms | TIES Center

The Inclusive Big Ideas were adapted from resources created by the NCSC Project , a federal grant from the US Department of Education (PR/Award #: H373X100002), However, the contents do not necessarily represent the policy of the US Department of Education and no assumption of endorsement by the Federal government should be made.

Find another Inclusive Big Idea

Grade Level
Subject Area