Spotlight on Strategies

Compare and Contrast

Why Compare and Contrast?

"Comparative thinking is one of our first and most natural forms of thought...By compiling the available research on effective instruction, Marzano, Pickering, and Pollock found that strategies that engage students in comparative thinking had the greatest effect on student achievement, leading to an average percentile gain of 45 points (p. 7f). More recently, Marzano's research in The Art and Science of Teaching (2007) reconfirmed that asking students to identify similarities and differences through comparative analysis leads to eye-opening gains in student achievement" (Silver). Students that use graphic organizers can see their thought process and understand differences and similarities between texts, features, etc. They learn how to effectively use a graphic organizer. Students are able to look at different sources to find ow planets are similar and different. They will use their t-chart or Venn diagram to lay out their facts in an organized manner. They will show mastery when they compare two different planets to each other by using a graphic organizer.

Standards Being Addressed

Ask and answer questions to demonstrate understanding of a text, referring explicitly to the text as the basis for the answers.

Use information gained from illustrations (e.g., maps, photographs) and the words in a text to demonstrate understanding of the text (e.g., where, when, why, and how key events occur).

Describe the logical connection between particular sentences and paragraphs in a text (e.g., comparison, cause/effect, first/second/third in a sequence).

Compare and contrast the most important points and key details presented in two texts on the same topic.


To introduce comparing and contrasting I will model how to compare and contrast using an anchor chart and two sources. I will do a think aloud to model how I think about comparing and contrasting on a graphic organizer. I will use my Canvas Solar System research module. I can use the different sources to see which sources will work best for me. I will research and choose the best facts to compare the Earth and Pluto. I will take notes on my organizer. I can write that on my graphic organizer in the section about both Earth and Pluto. Then if I need to know what it means to contrast, I know I can look back at my anchor chart and see that contrast means different. Well, I see that Earth and Pluto are two different sizes. If I write that on my graphic organizer I will put small on the Pluto side and large on the Earth side. I can see the different distances from the sun. Earth is closer and Pluto is very far away. I can write about the different distances on the Earth side and the Pluto side. Now, before I am finished I want to make sure that I have met my goal.


Use Earth again, but have students choose a different planet to compare and contrast with it. They will use multiple sources that they have linked, like Epic!, BrainPop,, Follettshelf, Trueflix, and They will show they are mastering the skill by taking the sources and researching. They will take notes correctly on a t-chart or Venn diagram. Think about how the students could present their knowledge at the end of the lesson? What tools could they use to present?

If you need another way to share with students how to compare and contrast, click here.

Let's Give Credit


S. (2014). Introduction to Reading Skills: Compare and Contrast Nonfiction Texts. Retrieved April 10, 2016, from

Silver, H. (n.d.). Compare and Contrast. Retrieved April 10, 2016, from$-Contrast¢.aspx


Newman, Lindsey. (March 30, 2016). Planets: Compare and Contrast.


Mailonline, G. V. (2015). Did our solar system once contain DOZENS of Earth-like planets? Simulations suggest these rocky worlds may have been kicked out by the gas giants billions of years ago. Retrieved April 10, 2016, from