How to Use a Standards-Based Compare and Contrast ELA Unit

Use standards-based units to teach students how to compare & contrast in fiction texts. Find lesson plans, graphic organizers, comprehension passages, task cards, interactive notebook activities, and assessments. Effective teach this skill to mastery in your elementary classroom!

Welcome to a comprehensive guide to my Standards-Based ELA units. Today, I am going to go into detail about how to effectively implement one of my complete ELA units and get your students to skill mastery with just one resource. Specifically, we will discuss the RL.9 units which teach students to compare and contrast in fiction texts.

Additionally, we’ll explore the structure of the Compare-and-Contrast Unit, discuss suggested setups for your reading block, and dive into effective lesson plans. We’ll also examine the supporting resources within the ELA unit and talk about how to utilize assessments effectively.

A Full Look at Your RL Unit

Common Core Standards, Compare and Contrast ELA Unit lesson plan activities

Firstly, these RL units were created specifically for each grade-level’s expectations and standards. While they are common-core aligned, most state’s standards align with the skills that are required in the CCSS. So, what does the word “complete” mean in reference to these ELA units?

These RL units offer a wealth of resources designed to facilitate meaningful learning experiences. Each unit comes with:

  • 3-4 Standards-Based Lessons (complete Lesson Plan and activities written in an I Do-We Do-You Do format with formative assessment component)
  • 6-10 Graphic Organizers (to be used with any text)
  • 5-6 Paired Reading Passages (with corresponding Comprehension Questions)
  • 12 task cards (to be used with any text)
  • Interactive Notebook pages (for 1st-5th grades to be used with any text)
  • Centers (for Kindergarten)
  • Skill-Specific Assessment

Suggested Set-Up of Reading Block

For an effective reading block setup, you will want to incorporate a mini-lesson that teaches the skill and a variety of skill practices. The way that your reading block should be set up will greatly depend on how much time you have. However, I have found that this often looks like a mini-lesson followed by groups or centers.


Previously, I mentioned that these units are meant to be complete. Meaning, you shouldn’t have to supplement or create extra work for yourself when you are using them. And here is how I would use my unit resources to get the most from it.

  • Teach Mini-Lesson
  • Students will divide into their “groups” or “stations”
    • I’d recommend using your reading groups so that one of the stations can be small-group with you.


  • Group 1 Reading Passages
    • Students will read a passage from the unit, completing the comprehension activity that comes with it.
    • Keep red, green, and blue markers or colored pencils at this station for marking evidence in the texts.
  • Group 2 Task Cards
    • Students will work with partners or their groups and use task cards to discuss books from the classroom library, good-fit book bins, or printed passages.
    • Print each set on a different color paper so that students can keep the “sets” together or fasten them with a binder ring.
    • Laminate them to prevent wear from continued use.
  • Group 3 Interactive Notebook Activity
    • Students cut & paste templates into their reading notebooks and complete them using books from the classroom library, good-fit book bins, or printed passages.
    • Keep printed pages in a tray for easy access.
  • Group 4 Small-Group with Teacher
    • Teacher can use the lesson plan activities, reading passages, or graphic organizers to strengthen students’ understanding of the skill.
    • Additionally, this is when you can address misconceptions or “reteach” using formative assessments from lessons.
  • Group 5 Digital Activity

Diving Into Your Lesson Plans

The lesson plans within these units are designed with flexibility in mind. Each plan is meant to include instruction, shared practice, and skill application (& formative assessment). There are usually 3-4 activities within the lesson plans, which allows for a few different options.

Firstly, Option 1 involves teaching all three activities from a given lesson plan in one day, suitable for classrooms with extended reading blocks.

Option 1 Timeline:

  • Monday- Lesson 1
  • Tuesday- Lesson 2
  • Wednesday- Lesson 3
  • Thursday- Assessment (Or Lesson 4 if there is one)
  • Friday- Review & Reteaching or Extension

On the other hand, there is a sometimes more realistic approach, which entails selecting 1-2 activities from the lesson plan daily and spreading the instruction out over a couple of reading blocks.

Option 2 Timeline:

  • Monday- Lesson 1, Activities 1 & 2
  • Tuesday- Lesson 1, Activity 3
  • Wednesday- Lesson 2, Activities 1 & 2
  • Thursday- Lesson 2, Activity 3
  • Friday- Review & Reteaching
  • Monday- Lesson 3, Activities 1 & 2
  • Tuesday- Lesson 3, Activity 3
  • Wednesday- Assessment

Using the Supporting Resources w/in the ELA Unit

In other words, these ELA units provide a plethora of supporting resources, including passages, graphic organizers, task cards, and Interactive Notebook pages. Specifically, the resources are ideal for integration within centers, promoting collaborative learning and skill reinforcement. If you choose to use the resources this way, you can use the tips mentioned in the Suggested Set-Up Section above.

Nonetheless, if you don’t use centers or stations, you can use each of the components in succession as independent, partner, or group activities. Here are my recommendations for that setup:

  • Mini-Lesson, followed by Reading Passage
  • Mini-Lesson, followed by Graphic Organizer to be used with a Compare/Contrast text-set that has been read aloud, or that students can read in pairs/groups
  • Mini-Lesson, followed by Interactive Notebook page to be used with a Compare/Contrast text-set that has been read aloud, or that students can read in pairs/groups
  • Meanwhile, rotate through the types of activities throughout the week. For example:
    • Monday- Graphic Organizer
    • Tuesday- Interactive Notebook
    • Wednesday- Reading Passage
    • Thursday- Task Cards
    • Friday- Reading Passage

Using the Assessment

Lastly, each unit comes with a full assessment for the specific reading skill. So, this nit will be able to measure students’ mastery of RL.9 (Comparing and Contrasting Fiction Texts) The assessment included is essential for evaluating student understanding. So, you will want to use it in a way that assesses skills most effectively.

Therefore, for Kindergarten & 1st (and sometimes 2nd) grades, the assessment may need to be read aloud to ensure the assessment measures the standard and not just reading ability. This approach creates a comprehensive evaluation of students’ ability to compare and contrast in fiction texts.

Interested in a *free* Compare and Contrast activity?

Get this Compare & Contrast freebie sent directly to your inbox.

Are you interested in Compare and Contrast Units?

If you’re interested in the units we discussed in today’s post, you can grab yours with the buttons below:

Want to read more Compare and Contrast blogs?


You might also like...