Compare and contrast elements of texts (Inclusive Big Idea #9)

What are students learning?

Reading Literature

Grade 2: English Language Arts

Inclusive Big Idea #9: Compare and contrast elements of texts

Standard: Compare and contrast two or more versions of the same story (e.g., Cinderella stories) by different authors or from different cultures. RL.2.9

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?

  • Anchor Text: Compare anchor texts such as the traditional Cinderella story and Mufaro’s Beautiful Daughters: An African Taleby John Steptoe. Learn more about accessing grade-level text in this TIP Sheet.
  • Graphic Organizer: Write or draw to understand using graphic organizers. Learn more about graphic organizers in this TIP Sheet.
    • Use a double event graphic organizer to match or organize pictures and/or sentences representing the key events of two different stories and then compare and contrast the events of each story. Model how to use the graphic organizer so students can see how it helps them to compare and contrast.
    • Use a compare and contrast graphic organizer (e.g., Venn diagram) and have students write, match, or place pictures with written labels to record the differences and similarities between the characters and events of two versions of the same story written by different authors or from different cultures.
    • Use a double character profile graphic organizer to match or organize pictures and/or sentences representing the key traits, experiences, and feelings of characters from two different stories and then compare and contrast the characters of each story.
  • Event Sorting: Visually represent the events of two similar stories by making picture cards of the various events. These could come from student drawings, magazines or the internet, or other image sources. Then, sort the picture cards into two different columns. One column should represent Story Version #1 and the other column should represent Version #2. While the students are sorting, ask them to describe how the events of the stories are similar/different. You might include sentence stems to help direct their discussion.

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 that the lesson is not interesting or relevant.

Ideas to reduce this barrier could include:

  • provide options of texts, authors, and cultures from which students can choose
  • connect the content to something related to the school or the local community
  • connect the story to a student’s special interests

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.

  • Why is it Important to Build Background Knowledge?
    • Students can determine what is the same and what is different in the content of what they read or see.
    • Build background knowledge about how students can use information they already know in order to compare and contrast elements of a character’s experience. Background knowledge can be built directly and indirectly. Direct experiences (e.g., teacher modeling, think-aloud strategies, cross-curricular activities) and indirect experiences (e.g., field trips, video clips, class activities, simulations) may effectively build relevant background knowledge.
  • What are "Story Elements"?
    • Story elements are, essentially, the parts of a story. These elements develop the actions or events in the story in a logical way to enable readers to easily follow the text. Knowing this can help students to compare and contrast.
      • characters- the individuals in the story.
      • setting- the location and time period where the story takes place.
      • plot- what happens in the story; a clear beginning, middle, and end.
      • conflict- the problem in the story; the plot in a story should be centered on the conflict.
      • resolution- the solution to the problem or conflict.


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

Go beyond the specific standard! These examples can spark ideas to generalize related skills from the content to real-world experiences for all students.

Common Student Misconceptions

  • 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. This can include understanding important aspects of a culture or experience students may not have had yet. 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.
  • Story Elements: Students often miss aspects of story elements when comparing and contrasting versions of a text. In addition, some texts are considered inconsiderate texts and do not provide enough to allow students to fully understand all story elements and must fill in the gaps with prior experiences and personal preferences, leading to problems with comprehension.
  • Setting Purpose: Students may be overwhelmed when asked to compare and contrast ideas if they don’t understand which information is important. Set clear expectations about what characteristics of the story you want them to compare. Model the process and provide sentence starters and graphic organizers to help them record their ideas.
  • Fact versus Opinion: When comparing and contrasting aspects of stories, students should base their comparisons in facts about the stories, not in their opinions about the stories.
  • Concrete versus Abstract Characteristics: Some points of comparison will be details that are explicitly stated within the story about characters or events, while other details may be implied or created by descriptions, language, or situations, such as mood or tone.
  • Social Studies: Read a historical text and then watch a fictional reenactment of the same event.
  • Science: Compare results of an experiment, where you can see the differences or similarities different variables have on an outcome.

Everyday Connections

  • On the Playground: You could have two or more students share their version of something that happened at school (such as during recess or lunch) to compare and contrast the different versions of what happened.

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?

First Grade: Compare and contrast elements of texts (RL 9)

Second Grade: Compare and contrast elements of texts (RI 9)

Third Grade: Compare and contrast elements of text (RL 9)

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.

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