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T Chart Compare And Contrast Example Essays

Compare and Contrast

Comparing and contrasting items allows our students to practice thinking analytically. They have to figure out how the items are the same (compare) and how they are different (contrast). The ability to think also aligns with the basic concept of Common Core, which is ensuring our students are learning by process rather than just memorizing. Many of us are familiar with the Venn Diagram model for comparing and contrasting. Storyboard That took that model and adapted the compare and contrast concept to work with the storyboard approach using a T-Chart (T Chart).

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Contrasting Differences

In a three-column format of a T-Chart graphic organizer, the two items are in the first and last cells. In these cells, only one of the items is described at a time. For example, if contrasting apples and oranges, the apple will have one cell and the orange will also have one cell. Within each of their respective cells, only details pertinent to that particular fruit will be recorded there.

Comparing Similarities

After the unique qualities of both apples and oranges have been described, the user describes the qualities or attributes that the items have in common. Comparing lets students make connections to two objects, people, or ideas, that they may not have considered before.

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Though the description above explains completing the unique features of the items first, that is not a requirement. Many students may find it easier to complete the comparison aspect first or even to complete them together as they think of different qualities.

Fact vs. Opinion

In education, we spend a lot of time teaching our students how to think critically and to understand what they are learning. The resources we use in the classrooms are full of facts. Often times there are also opinions included among the facts and it is important that students be able to distinguish between the two. Fact or Opinion can be used when teaching any subject to help students learn to distinguish within their resources. It would also be a helpful tool when teaching students about persuasive essays. They are often full of both facts and opinion and it can sometimes be difficult to identify between the two.

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Pros and Cons

There are so many decisions facing children and youth today that it is important that we educate them to help guide them in making the correct ones. A pros and cons chart is a great way to demonstrate the thought process that goes into making an educated choice. The T-Chart layout is perfect for creating such a layout. A two-cell chart automatically creates the divide. A pros and cons format is great for all students, but can be especially great for students who struggle with making appropriate and safe choices.

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Make Your Own

This template is just that, a template. You are free to organize it anyway that works for you and your students. The compare and contrast template is created using our T-Chart Layout. Learn more about this graphic organizer in our T-Chart article.

To create your own T-Chart follow these simple steps:
  1. Open Storyboard Creator
  2. Click on “Storyboard Layout”
  3. Choose “T-Chart”
  4. The default is 3 cells, perfect for comparing and contrasting!

You also have the option of just making a copy of the template above into your own account. Once you have done this, it can be edited anyway you see fit.

The compare and contrast format has a little something for everyone. We are confident you will enjoy using it in your classroom.

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Student Objectives

Session One

Sessions Two and Three


Student Assessment/Reflections



Students will

  • define the characteristics of a comparison/contrast essay.

  • generate ideas for the group composition and their own essays as the process is modeled.

  • develop a final copy of a comparison/contrast paper.

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Session One

  1. Hold up or display two different objects for students to focus on as they explore the meaning of the terms compare and contrast. You might choose two different beverage options (juice versus milk), two candy bars (Milky Way versus Reese's Cups), or two different television programs (SpongeBob SquarePants versus The Rugrats). Be sure to choose items which students are familiar with so that the process of comparing the objects will be clearer to them.

  2. Make two columns on the board or chart paper and invite students to brainstorm characteristics of first one of the objects (e.g., juice) and then the other object (e.g., milk). Invite students to add and revise information as they work, moving between the two columns.

  3. If students need help building the lists of characteristics, ask leading questions such as "How do you decide which beverage you want to drink?" or "How do you decide which candy bar to buy?"

  4. Ask students to identify characteristics that are included in both of the columns. Either mark these similarities using a different colored pen, or create a new chart with the column headings of "Comparison" and "Contrast."

  5. Based on the information in the lists, lead a class discussion on the definitions of the words compare and contrast. Refer to examples on the charts to clarify the difference between the two terms.

  6. As a class, brainstorm other ways students compare and contrast in their daily lives (sports teams, restaurants, toys, books, etc.). You can do this by pairing students in groups or 2-4 having them compose a list as a group and then as a coming together as a class to share ideas.

  7. From there, you will brainstorm and generate a class definition of compare and contrast making sure they understand why comparing and contrasting is important by using examples as needed.

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Sessions Two and Three

  1. Use the Comparison and Contrast Guide to review information from the first class session as needed.

  2. You can decide or allow the class to help you decide two things to compare and contrast for the class essay.

  3. Use the "Graphic Organizer" tab on the Comparison and Contrast Guide to introduce the Venn Diagram. Alternately, you can use the Compare and Contrast Chart Graphic Organizer if you prefer.

  4. Open the Venn Diagram Student Interactive. Alternately, you can draw a simple graphic organizer on the chalkboard of a Venn diagram (two overlapping circles).

  5. Label the circles and brainstorm as a class what is different about your topics and drag the ideas to the appropriate circle and what is the same about your topic and drag those ideas to the overlapping part of the circles.

  6. Print out the Venn Diagram, and make copies for students to use in later sessions.

  7. Use the "Organizing a Paper" tab on the Comparison and Contrast Guide and the Compare and Contrast Map to introduce the Similarities-to-Differences structure.

  8. Open a new word processor file, where you'll compose the first sections of the essay as a group.

  9. Brainstorm an interesting lead with the class. Have several people give ideas and model for the class how to rearrange ideas and thoughts to come up with the best and most interesting beginning and continue writing as a class from there.

  10. Demonstrate cut, copy, and paste commands for your word processor software.

  11. As you write with your class, feel free to delete ideas and change them as better ones come up and reread what has been written before asking for the next idea to be sure that the thoughts flow nicely. Refer back to the Venn Diagram as necessary.

  12. Use the "Transitions" tab on the Comparison and Contrast Guide to introduce the use of transitional words to increase coherence.

  13. Save your class draft of the introduction and the section on similarities. If possible, share the file with students, so that they can continue writing the text in their own copy of the file. Alternately, print the file and makes copies for students.

  14. Ask the students to continue the essay using the beginning that you've written together. They can add the section on differences and the conclusion in class or as homework.

  15. Use the Comparison and Contrast Guide to review information as needed. Use the "Checklist" tab to explain the requirements for the finished essay. If desired, share the Comparison and Contrast Rubric with students as well.

  16. Show students how to access the Comparison and Contrast Guide so that they can refer to the resource as they like while writing.

  17. If students work in class, circulate among students, giving ideas and help.

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  • Write another comparison and contrast essay, using the whole-to-whole or point-by-point organization explained in the "Organizing a Paper" tab on the Comparison and Contrast Guide.

  • Have students write a compare and contrast essay in a different content area. See the list below for a sampling of topics that can be compared.
    historical figures, maps of different time periods, states, time periods, books on the same historical subject

    scientists, weather patterns, plants in habitats

    paintings, artists' lives, different techniques

    two different authors, two stories by the same author, books on the same topic by different authors, a book and the movie made from it

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If possible, it is great to read the essay with the student individually and provide direct feedback. When this option is not available, constructive written comments are helpful. As you read the essays, keep notes on the aspects to review and share with the class later. For more structured feedback, use the Comparison and Contrast Rubric.

After you have finished responding to the essays, review them with the class, adding advice as needed. You might go back and model an area where students needed more practice. Alternately, you can use the Compare and Contrast Guide to review the area.

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