August 12, 2018
by Sarah Sumnicht

EL Support Lesson

Comparing with Transition Words

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This lesson can be used as a pre-lesson for the Compare and Contrast Information Across Sources lesson plan.
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This lesson can be used as a pre-lesson for the Compare and Contrast Information Across Sources lesson plan.
  • Students will be able to compare and contrast information across three different resources on a given subject.
  • Students will consider how to handle conflicting information across resources.

Students will be able to use transition words to make comparisons between texts and resources on the same topic.

(2 minutes)
  • Hold up two similar (but different) objects, like an apple and an orange. Ask students to turn and talk with a partner about what is the same and what is different about the two objects (i.e., they are both fruits, they are both round, one is orange, one is red).
  • Draw a Venn diagram on the board and ask students to share some of the similarities and differences they discussed. Provide sentence frames, like "They both are..." and "The apple is ____, while the orange is ____." Record their responses in the Venn diagram. Prompt students with leading questions if needed.
  • Explain to students that they just compared and contrasted the two objects by analyzing their similarities and differences. Point out the Venn diagram and remind students that this is one type of graphic organizer that people can use to compare and contrast things.
  • Tell students that today they will be learning some transition words that are commonly used to compare and contrast texts. Explain that, as fifth graders, they will be expected to compare two or more texts on a topic.
(10 minutes)
  • Hand out the Vocabulary Instruction Chart worksheet to each student and tell them that they will be learning some key terms that will help them during the lesson.
  • Introduce the vocabulary words one at a time. First display the vocabulary card and read the word and definition out loud. Then, label the word with its part of speech and provide example(s) for the word (i.e., things that are "resources").
  • Instruct your students to fill out a row on their chart using the information you provided.
  • For the first word, resource, model how you would write your own sentence. For example, "I used an encyclopedia as a resource while I was writing an essay."
  • Continue introducing words and have students fill in a row on their vocabulary chart for each one.
  • Instruct students to work with their partner to come up with sentences for the words "compare" and "contrast." Call on volunteers to share their sentences.
(10 minutes)
  • Explain that, when we read multiple texts on a similar topic, it is important to consider the similarities and differences between the texts. Tell students that there are certain transition words that can be used when comparing and contrasting texts.
  • Display the word bank on the worksheet Transition Words for Comparing & Contrasting and hand out copies of the worksheet to students. Review the word bank with the class.
  • Complete the first sentence as an example. Then, instruct students to complete the worksheet with their partner.
  • Call on students to share their answers.
(10 minutes)
  • Hand out the worksheet Compare & Contrast Nonfiction Texts: The Underground Railroad and explain to students that they will be reading two short texts on the same historical topic, the Underground Railroad.
  • Show students the Venn diagram on the second page and tell them that they will be using the graphic organizer to record similarities and differences between the two texts.
  • Have students read the two texts with a partner, taking turns reading and listening (i.e., partner A reads the first text, while partner B reads the second text).
  • When students are done reading, model how you would write a similarity on the Venn diagram (i.e., both texts state that slaves were trying to escape to Northern states). Record the example on your own displayed copy of the Venn diagram. Then, tell students to work with their partner to record more similarities and differences from the texts. Encourage students to find at least two similarities and two differences (in each section).
  • Have each pair of students join with another pair to create small groups of four. Tell the students in each group to share their answers with their group members. Instruct students to add to their own Venn diagrams during the discussion if new ideas arise.
  • Write a paragraph frame on the board that reads: "I read two texts about ____. Both texts said ____. However, in text one I learned ____. While in text two I learned ____."
  • Ask students to identify the transition words in the paragraph frame ("both," "however," "while"). Allow them to refer to the word bank they used earlier in the lesson.
  • Instruct students to independently write a paragraph about the two texts, using the paragraph frame and their completed Venn diagram.
  • Invite several volunteers to read their paragraphs aloud.


  • Pre-teach additional vocabulary terms that students will see within texts during the lesson, like "organize," "route," and "punishment."
  • Allow beginning ELs to use bilingual resources to define new words throughout the lesson.
  • Strategically pair beginning ELs with more advanced ELs or students who speak the same home language.


  • Allow advanced ELs to utilize a glossary, thesaurus, and dictionary for help with unfamiliar words.
  • Encourage advanced ELs to compose their written responses without sentence frames, or provide a shorter sentence stem for support in place of the sentence and paragraph frames.
  • Choose advanced ELs to share their ideas first in group and class discussions. Ask advanced ELs to add on, rephrase, or clarify what their peers say in class discussion.
  • Have advanced ELs repeat instructions and key vocabulary, summarizing important information for the class.
(5 minutes)
  • Explain to students that they will be watching a video about the Underground Railroad and comparing it to the texts they read.
  • Tell students to make notes on the margins of their Venn diagram, or place check marks next to information that is similar to what they recorded earlier in the lesson.
  • Show the short video "The Underground Railroad" that is linked in the Related Books and/or Media section, pausing to allow students to write if necessary.
  • Hand out a piece of lined paper to each student and write a paragraph frame on the board that reads: "I used three resources to learn about ____. A similarity was ____. However, in the text ____ I learned ____. While in the video I learned ____."
  • Instruct students to write a paragraph, using the paragraph frame and their Venn diagrams. Then, instruct them to circle the transition words in their completed paragraph ("similarity," "however," "while").
  • Collect the paragraphs to check for understanding.
(3 minutes)
  • Remind students that all three resources they encountered were about the same topic. Ask students to call out some key words that they remember about the topic (i.e., "Harriet Tubman," "slaves," "Northern states") and record them on the board to create a word bank. Add key words that are missing if needed.
  • Then ask students to consider the following questions:
    • Why is there different information in each resource?
    • Did any of the resources leave something out?
  • Write the questions on the board with a sentence frame for each, such as, "I think there is different information in each resource because.../I noticed that ____ left out information about ____."
  • Have students talk with a small group about the two reflection questions, using the word bank, their notes, and sentence frames for support. Circulate and listen to conversations.
  • Call on a volunteer from each group to share a reflection.

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