August 7, 2018
by Caitlin Hardeman

EL Support Lesson

Focus on the Similarities

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This lesson can be used as a pre-lesson for the The Same or Different? You Decide! lesson plan.
Grade Subject
This lesson can be used as a pre-lesson for the The Same or Different? You Decide! lesson plan.

Students will be able to compare and contrast story elements from two fictional stories with similar characters.


Students will be able to describe the similarities between two stories with specific vocabulary using sentence structures.

(2 minutes)
  • Facilitate a Think-Pair-Share by asking students to think about what it means to compare. Give students time to think independently, and then have them discuss with partners. Share out as a class.
  • Define compare as finding what is the same between two things.
  • Tell students that today they will be looking for the similarities between two stories, and learning a way to describe them with specific words.
(10 minutes)
  • Introduce the tiered vocabulary words by giving each student a set of Vocabulary Cards. Read aloud each word and have students repeat it to practice correct pronunciation. Follow the same procedure for the definitions.
  • Distribute a Glossary to each student and have them label the last column as Examples. Model writing an example, in written or visual form, for the first word on the Glossary. Then instruct learners to work together in partnerships or small groups to complete the remainder of the column for the other vocabulary words.
  • Create a teacher copy of the Glossary with examples to serve as a reference for the remainder of the lesson.
  • Instruct students to take out the character, setting, problem, and solution Vocabulary Cards and tell students they will use these as response cards for an activity. Explain that you will state examples, and students will hold up the card that correctly identifies the statement. Model an example before inviting the students to participate. For example, say, "The playground at the park." Hold up the card for setting and explain that the playground is a location, so that could be a setting of a story.
  • Engage students by stating examples, such as:
    • On a cold, winter day (setting)
    • Kasan and Mary (characters)
    • The necklace broke into pieces. (problem)
    • He ran as fast as he could and got to school on time. (solution)
(15 minutes)
  • Tell students that today they will look at the four important story elements while reading: characters, setting, problem, and soluton. Use the Vocabulary Cards to review each of the story elements, and ask volunteers to provide an example of each from a familiar story the class has recently read together.
  • Display two fictional texts that have some similarities and differences, such as No, David! and David Gets in Trouble. Prompt students to look at the covers of the books and discuss only the similarities with a partner.
  • Give each student a copy of the Compare and Contrast Elements of a Story worksheet. Remind students that a common graphic organizer we use to compare and contrast is called a Venn diagram.
  • Draw and label a Venn diagram on the board and ask students to look for how the graphic organizer on their worksheet is the same as the Venn diagram.
  • Tell students that they will record only the similarities on the Compare and Contrast Elements of a Story worksheet while the two books are read aloud. Conduct a quick check for understanding to make sure that students understand where to record notes. Stop periodically to guide students in their note-taking.
  • Read aloud the two fictional books, and then review the information that students recorded on their graphic organizers. Create a teacher copy with exemplar answers for the story elements in each story.
(8 minutes)
  • Explain that it is important to be able to find similarities between things because it helps our brain make connections. When we connect one piece of information, whether in our everyday lives or in texts, to another piece of information, we are helping our brains remember it in a more meaningful way.
  • Display the teacher copy of the Compare and Contrast Elements of a Story worksheet.
  • Display the following sentence stems and review the specific vocabulary used in each. Point out words and phrases that show comparison, such as both, similar, same, and in the same way.
    • The characters were the same because ____.
    • The settings were similar because ____.
    • In story one, the problem was ____. In the same way, the problem in story two was ____.
    • In both stories, the solution was ____.
  • Model describing the similarities between the two stories by writing a sentence about the characters. Refer to the completed graphic organizer for information. Read aloud the complete sentence and have the class repeat it.
  • Pair students and instruct them to use their whiteboards and whiteboard markers to write a sentence for each of the sentence stems. Remind them to utilize their graphic organizers for information about the two books.
  • Scramble partnerships and have them share their sentences with each other. Then, go over them as a class.


  • Allow access to reference materials in home language (L1).
  • Have learners repeat instructions and key vocabulary to the teacher.
  • Define key vocabulary terms from the read aloud texts with a written and visual student-friendly definition.
  • Preteach a lesson on identifying story elements before this lesson.
  • Ask students to create a visual summary of the read aloud texts by drawing images that depict the story sequence of each.


  • Allow learners to utilize glossaries and dictionaries for unfamiliar words.
  • Choose advanced ELs to share their ideas first in group and class discussions.
  • Have learners repeat instructions and key vocabulary, summarizing important information for the class.
  • Ask students to summarize each text after you read it aloud and be the first to recall some details about the story elements.
(3 minutes)
  • Observe sentences, both written and oral, during the Sentence Level section of the lesson to determine students' proficiency in identifying and explaining similarities between two stories.
  • Give each student an index card for the Exit Ticket and instruct them to complete the following sentence stem for the two read aloud stories: "The main similarity between the stories was ____."
(2 minutes)
  • Call on volunteers to share their completed sentence.
  • Remind learners that identifying similarities between two things is a way of making connections between pieces of information. This is a powerful skill as a reader because it makes our reading meaningful.

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