December 4, 2013

Stumbling into Compare and Contrast Text Structure



            As we continue to explore text structure, I stumbled, literally, into compare and contrast.  We were working in Science, and, as we were reading, bam-there it was. It was a moment I wasn’t expecting-which was good-because it got me thinking.  It kept me on my toes.  It, well, showed I needed to pay more attention to what I was doing!  I think that this is what is now an authentic part of teaching again.  It is so easy just to look at a manual, follow it along (which I abhor to be honest, but, do so for planning), and read, talk, and complete with the students.  It is where I have been since I’m still not totally stable in my grade level.  So, that’s what happened to me.  I had planned along, not paying any attention to what was going on in the READING part of science, when-BAHM!  I got hit with compare and contrast and I, honestly, fumbled!  I dropped the ball and did what any unsuspecting teacher does-I waited till the next chance I had and backtracked! 

            I backtracked in my reading block.  First, I passed out the Compare and Contrast text structure page to put in their reading journals and we went over it. The thing about this information is that in Florida they use specific word choices on the FCAT-similarities and differences.  I had thought of the traffic light idea. 

Similarities is when you should STOP and look for ways that are alike.  Differences are when we should GO and find things in the reading that aren’t the same.  We drew a nice traffic light in our reading journals and went to town in our science books filling out the graphic organizer. 



As you can see, it is not the traditional compare and contrast graphic organizer.  In fact, one of my kids asked, “Can we use a Venn Diagram?”  Here’s what I then asked, “How many of you are frustrated by the tiny space to write the same information in in a Venn diagram?”  I had never thought to ask that before!  I know it drives me nuts!  You have to squeeze the information in there as an adult, with tiny handwriting!  It looks terrible!  It’s hard to read and many times it doesn’t make sense because it’s so little!  The kids gave me those reasons too!  I explained that this graphic organizer was like a Venn diagram except that the similarities go inside the circle and the differences go in the boxes!  And they gave it a shot and did very well with it!

            The next day, we examined a chapter from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.  I am telling you, I have gotten a lot of mileage out of this book!  Roald Dahl is a master level writer!  He has hidden things in this text that I , as a teacher, have never noticed before! He so completely does the compare and contrast thing!  The chapter we used for this exercise is chapter 16.  This is the chapter where Augustus Gloop goes up the pipe. This is clearly a cause and effect chapter, but, hidden away in these moments of cause and effect are the comparing and contrasting of the behavior of the family groups.  This is what I was after-the deeper root of the problem of all of the families coming out in the comparing and contrasting of their reactions to what Augustus did. 

            First, we reviewed our chart.  If you notice, I didn’t talk about the yellow light yet.  That’s because it wasn’t there at first. Well, the light was, but not the phrase.  That phrase came from a student.  

As we were entering the classroom after lunch, he looked at me and said, “Mrs. Santello, I know what the yellow light is! It is slow down to find similarities and differences!”  Why, yes it is, isn’t it!  I so wish I had thought of that!  As a class, we discussed how this phrase was so perfect for this light!  And, we added it to our reading journals!  How could we pass up such genius!  After that, I explained to them that they would be creating the same diagram in their reading journals and looking at the way the families acted.  I excluded Willy Wonka and the Oompa-Loompas.  These were off limits, as I wanted them to begin to look toward what Roald Dahl’s deeper message is. 




            Once the kids finished, I passed out a post it note that I asked them to cut in half with the sticky side at the top.  While they were working, I used chart paper to create the same diagram in a larger model.  I asked them to write one similarity and one difference that they felt would represent a thought that others may not have come up with.  Then I had them place this on the chart.  I shared one or two that day and called it a wrap.



            As an opening discussion to the next lesson, I began to examine with the students what they had discovered about the similarities and differences.  From that, we began to look more closely at the parents. How did the adults behave? What did they do that we could also “see” the children doing? What was Roald Dahl saying?  Together, with all this digging, the kids came up with the idea that the parent’s behavior is why the children act poorly.  Can you say implied cause and effect (Text structure coming next!)  This was not easy for them, but we worked it and we got there! 


       


    

We will continue to look at compare and contrast text structure with Violet Beauregarde (otherwise known as No Regard Beauregarde with one of my former classes!)  Can’t wait to see where that takes us!

            And, now, for a freebie!  I have figured out how to use Google Drive!  That’s pretty exciting to me!  So, to share my excitement, I’ve added the Compare and Contrast Text Structure Student Notebook Page.  This is just one page from my new packet on Text Structure.  You can find it in my TpT store.  I hope you can use this great page to work on text structures in your classroom  Please share what’s going on in your rooms too!  How are you doing with text structure?  Do you have an ideas or questions you would like to share?  Be sure to leave me a comment and we can all work together to find the answers!


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