Compare and Contrast Text Structure – How to Identify It

Compare and contrast text structure explores similarities and differences of two or more things. Let’s take a look at how to teach kids to identify and write in this format. In addition to the organization of ideas, they need to know about transition terms.

Ms. Sneed Teaches Compare and Contrast Text Structure

Once again, our favorite fourth grade teacher sat at the side table with her teaching partner. “Let’s continue organizing our ELA block,” she said, “Over the past week, we’ve been talking about structures of nonfiction.”

Mr. Frank nodded. “Yes, so far we’ve talked about sequence, cause and effect, and problem-solution. What’s on the agenda today?”

“Compare and contrast text structure,” Ms. Sneed responded.

Reading Compare and Contrast Text Structure

As usual, the teacher grabbed her laptop and began clicking. “We’ll introduce the concept with our informational text structures slideshow.”

As Mr. Frank looked on, Ms. Sneed scrolled down. “For the compare and contrast text structure,” she said, “we ask kids to look for a similarities and differences. A Venn diagram provides the perfect graphic organizer.

“Then kids study a sample paragraph,” she added.

“I see,” Mr. Frank commented. “In this example, the Ojibwa and Dakota are compared. Red signifies Ojibwa; yellow, Dakota; and orange, both. Clever.”

Teach kids about the compare and contrast text structure with a graphic organizer and sample paragraph.
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Looking for Transition Terms

“Next, the slideshow focuses on linking words, or transitions,” Ms. Sneed said. “The compare and contrast text structure has so many. Just look at all of the words that are circled. For similarities, the passage uses share, both, similar, and likewise. Then for differences, it employs however, while, different, and whereas.”

“Wow,” her teaching partner said, “this format seems easier to identify than some of the others.”

As in this paragraph, passages written with a compare and contrast text structure are often loaded with transitional phrases.

Using a Simple Organizer

Now Mr. Frank turned to his laptop. After clicking around for a minute, he turned the screen toward Ms. Sneed. “This graphic organizer will help our kids take notes when they read compare and contrast texts. Additionally, it will help them organize their ideas when they write with this structure.”

A Venn diagram is perfect for organizing compare and contrast texts.

Writing Paragraphs with Compare and Contrast Text Structure

“We decided that our students would write using each text structure this year,” Mr. Frank continued. “What topic should we use for compare and contrast?”

“I have the perfect application. Soon our students will be analyzing folktales. Then they’ll write paragraphs about similarities and differences.”

“Yeah, but that’s literature…” Mr. Frank began.

With a sly smile, Ms. Sneed replied. “Yeah, but their responses will be nonfiction paragraphs.”

As she spoke, she pulled up the unit.

When kids write about similarities and differences in literature, they are actually using this informational text structure.

Using Multiple Organizers

“As you can see, kids will first list elements of each story: characters, setting, plot, and theme. Once they have that, students will organize everything on a Venn diagram. After that, they’ll simply write using the compare and contrast text structure.”

“Brilliant!” Mr. Frank exclaimed. “Literature and informational text in one lesson!”

To compare and contrast two pieces of literature, ask kids to list elements of each story on a table. Then they can use a Venn diagram to organize their writing.

Enjoy Teaching

Ms. Sneed sat back in her chair. Then, slowly, that knowing teacher smile spread across her face. “You know, when we meet to discuss teaching informational text, everything just gets better and better.”

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