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Compare/Contrast Model


Students compare/contrast two different concepts, texts, visuals, or problems by collaboratively building a tactile-visual model.


  • 1 bag of materials per group (6 purple plates, 6 blue plates, 6 red plates, 2 white plates, sticky notes)
  • 2 different concepts, texts, visuals, or problems to compare/contrast
  • Compare/Contrast Model template (English/Spanish)


  1. Organize students into triads and provide each group with a bag of materials:
    • 2 white plastic plates for topics
    • 6 purple plastic plates for similarities
    • 6 red plastic plates for differences
    • 6 blue plastic plates for differences
    • Sticky notes (Students write ideas on the notes and place them on the plates.)
  2. Each group member gets 2 plates of each color (purple, red, and blue).
  3. Students Compare/Contrast items following the Model. Use the template to see where to place colored plates and sticky notes:
    • WHITE: Students write the 2 topics being compared or physically place the 2 items on the floor.
    • PURPLE: Students take turns writing similarities and placing plates into the model.
    • BLUE: Students take turns writing differences for #1 and placing plates into the model.
    • RED: Students take turns writing differences for #2 and placing plates into the model.
  4. Optional: Students select 1 student per group to be a “spy” to “steal” 2 plates from other groups to add to their original model.
  5. Each group evaluates its model to report their group’s best purple, blue, and red ideas.
  6. Use each group’s best ideas to create a final model for students to replicate in their notebooks.
  7. Observe students’ thinking and clarify/verify as appropriate. 

Classroom Management

  • Rehearse the strategy by comparing 2 fast food restaurants before using the strategy with academic content.
  • Consider conducting a “fishbowl” activity where 1 group models the strategy while others observe.
  • Write ideas on sticky notes so plates can be reused or provide students with a set of answer cards to place in the model.
  • Consider using the activity as a learning station.


  • Promote access by providing an idea/word bank or partnering with 2 supportive peers.
  • Promote access by providing summaries of each topic or previewing the 2 topics with a supportive peer/adult.
  • Provide response support by allowing speech-to-text or word prediction support if creating the model digitally.
  • Provide response support by providing answer cards that students place into the model.

Think It Up!

  • Have students think more deeply about the concept by responding to a Think It Up prompt as an exit ticket or journal entry:
    • Write a summary of the best similarity, the best difference for topic #1, and the best difference for topic #2.
    • Evaluate another group’s model and list how their model is similar to and different from your model.
  • Encourage students to use lead4ward’s Thinking Stems (English/Spanish) to frame their responses, if needed.