Compare & Contrast Writing Activities

Students writing in notebooks on library table.
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Teach students to compare and contrast through activities that focus on analyzing multiple sources of information using a graphic organizer. As students engage with multiple texts, they learn the importance of seeking out varied perspectives to gain a fuller understanding about a topic. Activities can focus on fiction and nonfiction literature as well as cultural traditions.

1 Folktale Jigsaw

Using different versions of a familiar tale, students divide and conquer to investigate differences and similarities between the texts. Break students into small groups and give each group member a different version of a familiar tale such as The Three Little Pigs. Students use a graphic organizer to detail important points of their story’s plot, characters and themes before reconvening and sharing with their group. Groups discuss the common aspects between all versions and the different directions that some versions took. Students choose two versions to write a compare and contrast essay.

2 Historical Investigation

Students investigate a nonfiction account of an important historical event and a fictional work based on that event to learn how fiction writers use historical facts but may take liberties for the sake of their stories. Focusing on an event such as the atomic bombing of Hiroshima, study as a class one nonfiction source and one historical fiction work. Direct students in filling out a graphic organizer to keep track of aspects where the two works were consistent and parts where the fictional work did not align with the nonfictional work. Students can then write an essay comparing and contrasting the portrayal of the event in the two sources to examine how close the fiction author stayed to the historical facts.

3 Propaganda Analysis

Students examine the similarities and differences between American and German propaganda posters from World War II to make inferences about the two warring governments. Show students multiple American and German propaganda posters, interpreting them as a whole class. Have students fill out a graphic organizer to note aspects that were present in propaganda from both sides and techniques that were unique to either country. Students can then write essays comparing and contrasting elements of American and German propaganda.

4 Holiday Comparisons

Students explore and compare holiday traditions from different cultures. Help students select and research two different holidays or celebrations from different cultures using print and online sources. Provide graphic organizers for students to document their findings. Have students write an essay comparing and contrasting the two traditions they researched, commenting on why certain elements were common in both traditions and why other elements were unique to either tradition. This assignment practices compare and contrast writing, engages research skills and exposes students to cultures that may be unfamiliar to them.

Anne Post has experience teaching in both public and private school settings, as well as several early childhood programs. Post holds a Bachelor of Science in education from the State University of New York at Geneseo with expertise in both childhood education and special education.