10 Ways to Compare and Contrast

Teaching students to compare and contrast is an extremely important skill and should have high priority, because it's a skill that's necessary in all content areas. This list shares 10 ways to compare and contrast that you can start using right now!

Comparing and contrasting is a higher level thinking skill important across the curriculum. We compare and contrast characters in a story, word choice in writing, equations in math (think < > =, not to mention word problems ), different hypotheses in science, how holidays are celebrated in different cultures, etc. That is probably why comparing and contrasting shows up multiple times in the Common Core Standards. Here are some ideas for comparing and contrasting in your class.

  1. Venn Diagrams: In addition to using them on paper, you can make big ones on the floor with hula hoops and have kids use labeled index cards or Post-It notes to fill in the variables.
  2. Analogies are great because you can use different criteria and then talk about which criteria was used. For example, the analogy mountain: hill : : river : stream is defined by size, while December : Christmas : : February : Valentine’s Day is defined by time. Here is a free Analogy Worksheet.
  3. Similes and Metaphors: Like analogies, students can identify what the criteria is for the comparison. Similes may be easier for younger students because the words “like” and “as” pretty much tell you what the criteria is, while you often have to work a little harder with a metaphor.
  4. Would You Rather Questions present a forced choice between two more or less equal options, which can lead to some terrific discussions. Read more about using would you rather questions with your students here.
  5. Class Polls, Bar Graphs, and Glyphs: Good way compare and contrast student’s experiences, opinions, traits, etc.
  6. Foldables can be used in so many ways for comparing and contrasting! Here are instructions on how to make some of the most common foldables.
  7. Rating and Ranking: There are so many ways to use this. Students can use numbers to rank brainstormed ideas. They can use a rating scale to evaluate their own work, peer presentations, the usefulness of a particular lesson, etc.
  8. Comparisons over Time: Everyone loves to see improvement. Having students complete a variety of tasks at the start of the year and then doing the same ones at the end of the year is a wonderful way to compare then and now. Do this on a smaller scale with a pretest and post-test for any unit of study.
  9. T-Charts: Simple, basic, effective, and applicable to so many things. You can put a variable on each side of the chart (e.g. “conductor” and “insulator”) or you could put the words “same” and “different” on either side and put a the things to be compared at the top (eg: “mammals” and “reptiles”).
  10. Written Essay: No one should leave school without being able to write a solid, well-organized compare and contrast essay, complete with examples from life or literature. They will need these skills for the essay portion of the SAT.
Looking for more compare and contrast practice? Try these task cards!


compare and contrast the book to the movie

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