Comparing Texts Using Paired Passages

How to use paired passages to teach reading comprehension.

Comparing text is a FAVORITE activity of mine. It’s not the easiest to teach, but I always find it so fun. Now, this blog post is going to be a bit different from my Exploring ELA Comparing Texts. That is because common core’s comparing text standards are within the domains, so fiction vs. fiction and nonfiction vs. nonfiction. That is where paired passages are different. And, it’s where these add-ins are so fun to teach. If you’re standards-based, try plugging these in for a week or two, or even throughout the year in centers! Having students find details from fiction and nonfiction texts about a topic is a great skill.

If you’re looking for the skill of comparing fiction to fiction and nonfiction to nonfiction, come back soon for that blog post! 

Fiction to Nonfiction

Today, we will discuss comparing fiction to nonfiction text. Teach what paired passages are first. 

Introduce the topic with an anchor chart or a KWL chart that the students fill out together. Make sure the students know the reason why they are going to read paired passages.

Teaching paired passages in primary classrooms- tips to help students engage in paired passages or paired texts- reading activities.

Use mentor texts as examples

Before you expect students to read paired passages on their own, you need to start with a few mentor texts to compare. Grab a fictional story that you really like and then find a nonfiction text to match it. This will help the students see the similarities between facts from fiction and nonfiction. Check out the links under the picture to grab my affiliate links to books on Amazon.

Texts to model paired passages

Horses Up Close! and Cowgirl Kate and Cocoa
Spiders and Diary of a Spider
Storms and Thundercake

Let them practice a lot!

First, you will read both texts together. I always chose to do choral reading with mine, as I tracked the stories under the document camera. So we will read our fictional story and our nonfiction story.

Teaching paired passages in primary classrooms- tips to help students engage in paired passages or paired texts- reading activities.

Then, you dive into your fiction story. This activity may be an entire day’s work, or even two or three days worth of work. When reading fiction stories, students should be marking up their texts, underlining their important details, and answering questions with text dependent answers.

Fiction focus

After you finish studying your fiction story, you move on to your nonfiction text. You can choose to simply read and answer questions in one day, or expand it over a couple of days and include fact writing and research.

Nonfiction focus

And finally, you wrap up your comparing text unit with your comparison pages. But, before you ask students to compare these two texts on their own, allow them to work on groups of 3 or 4. They can make a Venn diagram together. This will help them vocalize their thoughts before being asked for the cumulative writing comparison.

Venn diagram for comparing texts using paired passages

Quick tip on students making their own Venn diagram. Tell them to fold it into thirds and draw the circles in only two of the rectangles. Help with the sizes of the circles.

Suggested Resources For You

There are many options in my TPT store that you can choose from for Paired Passages. You can choose to teach paired texts with fairy tales. You can choose to teach paired texts with seasonal topics. Or, you can choose to teach paired texts with general nonfiction topics.


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