EL Support Lesson

Focus on the Differences

Use this lesson with your students to teach them to describe the differences between stories with contrasting conjunctions. This lesson can stand-alone or be used as a pre-lesson for the *Finding Similarities and Differences* lesson.
This lesson can be used as a pre-lesson for the Finding Similarities and Differences lesson plan.
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This lesson can be used as a pre-lesson for the Finding Similarities and Differences lesson plan.

Students will be able to compare and contrast the story elements in two fiction texts.


Students will be able to describe the differences between two stories with contrasting conjunctions using sentence structures.

(2 minutes)
  • Prompt students to discuss what it means to contrast. Have students discuss with partners, and give them a chance to discuss, defend, and refine their answers. Share out as a class.
  • Define contrast as finding the differences between two things.
  • Tell students that today they will be looking for the differences between two stories, and learning a way to describe them with specific words.
(12 minutes)
  • Explain that today's lesson will require students to look at four important story elements: characters, setting, problem, and solution. Define each of the story elements and provide examples as needed, and ask students to provide additional examples in familiar stories.
  • Read two fictional texts that have some similarities and differences, such as No, David! and David Gets in Trouble. Have students discuss only the differences with a partner.
  • Display and hand out copies of the Compare and Contrast Elements of a Story worksheet. Explain that this graphic organizer is similar to a Venn diagram, and that the outer sections are for the differences, while the middle is for similarities. Share that we are only focusing on the differences right now. Instruct students to record the differences for each story element.
  • Review the information that students recorded on their graphic organizer while creating a teacher copy with the information for the story elements in each story to reference later in the lesson.
(6 minutes)
  • Share that we are going to use the story element information that was recorded during the read aloud and create sentences to describe the differences between the two stories.
  • Distribute the Glossary to students and quickly review the words that have already been introduced in the lesson. Focus on the word conjunction and provide the definition. Write the following examples of contrasting conjunctions on the board: however, but.
  • Provide example sentences using each of the contrasting conjunctions. Circle the conjunctions and clarify that one example shows how to write one sentence, but the other example shows two sentences.
    • A car travels on the ground, but a plane travels in the air.
    • A car travels on the ground. However, a plane travels in the air.
  • Ask students to turn and talk to a partner to create more example sentences using the contrasting conjunctions. Challenge the class to create sentences about story elements from familiar stories.
  • Have partnerships share out with the whole class and record exemplar sentences to put on an anchor chart for reference.
(12 minutes)
  • Display the completed Compare and Contrast Elements of a Story worksheet with information from the two picture books.
  • Display the following sentence frames and review the two contrasting conjunctions and sentence structures.
    • In story 1 ____, but in story 2 ____.
    • In story 1 ____. However, in story 2 ____.
  • Model describing the difference between the two stories by writing sentences about the characters using both sentence frames. Refer to the completed graphic organizer for information. Read the completed sentence frames aloud and have the class repeat them.
  • Instruct students to use their whiteboards and whiteboard markers to write two sentences about the settings using both sentence frames. Remind them to refer to their completed graphic organizers for information about the settings. Scramble the partnerships and have students share their sentence frames with a new partner and make any necessary adjustments. Review student answers by calling on a non-volunteer.
  • Direct the class to work independently to write two sentences about the problems on their whiteboards. Remind them to complete both sentence frames and refer to their graphic organizer for the information about the story element.
  • Put students into partnerships and ask them to share their sentence frames. Then, go over them as a class.


  • Allow access to reference materials in home language (L1).
  • Define key vocabulary terms from the read aloud texts with student-friendly definitions and images.
  • Have learners repeat instructions and key vocabulary to the teacher.
  • Preteach a lesson on identifying story elements before this lesson.


  • Allow learners to utilize glossaries and dictionaries for unfamiliar words.
  • Choose advanced ELs to share their ideas first in group and class discussions.
  • Ask students to summarize each text after you read it aloud and be the first to recall some details about the story elements.
  • Allow them to complete the middle sections on the graphic organizer for each story element.
(5 minutes)
  • Give each student an index card for an Exit Ticket. Instruct them to choose a sentence frame to complete for the solution of the two stories. Remind them to use their Compare and Contrast Elements of a Story worksheet for the necessary information.
(3 minutes)
  • Allow students to share their Exit Tickets with a partner, and then call on students to share with the class.
  • Remind students that we are able to clearly describe the differences between two stories when we use contrasting conjunctions.

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