Comparing and Contrasting Fiction and Nonfiction
- Grades: 1–2
- Unit Plan:
- Compare and contrast fiction and nonfiction
- Evaluate their understanding of fiction and nonfiction individually
- Create a class diagram to demonstrate their understanding
- Labeled Venn diagram blanks (see below), one for every student
- Chart paper and markers
- Class charts from Lesson 1 and Lesson 2
Set Up and Prepare
- Draw a Venn diagram on chart paper. Label the diagram: "What we've come to expect when we read fiction and nonfiction." Then label one side Fiction and the other side Nonfiction.
- Make copies of Venn diagram for students.
Step 1: Review. Discuss all the features of fiction and nonfiction, as well as observations they made during the Mixed Bag activity.
Step 2: Display the large Venn diagram. Quickly review how it works for students who aren't familiar with Venn diagrams. (Consider modeling the diagram with the differences between cats and dogs, then with ONE difference or similarity between fiction and nonfiction.)
Step 3: Distribute the student Venn diagram form and explain that they will individually fill out as many similarities and differences as they can. Allow about 7 minutes of independent work.
Step 4: Allow the students to partner up. They can work with their partner to share their findings. They can then continue brainstorming and adding ideas to both Venn diagrams. Allow another seven minutes for this. Students can either work around the room or right on the carpet; it's up to you.
Step 5: Regroup as a class, and record the findings on the large Venn diagram on chart paper. Make sure some key-points are mentioned: real vs. not real, features (cross sections, glossary, photographs) vs. story elements (characters, problem, solution).
Step 6: Make sure your class Venn diagram is displayed so that students can refer back to it throughout all nonfiction units. If you are going directly into nonfiction writing, use the charts to help add nonfiction features to their writing.
Supporting All Learners
Filling out the Venn diagram individually may be challenging for some students, but it is an important step for assessment. The students have had a lot of time to work on nonfiction reading, so they should be able to write something by themselves. If a student is having major difficulty, prompting them to look at some of the charts is certainly welcome.
As I stated earlier, all these lessons lead easily into a nonfiction writing unit. Try to stress what the students have learned about reading nonfiction when they write nonfiction. Also, continually using the vocabulary of the features allows them to retain the information throughout the year and into the next.
You could ask students to use their Venn diagram as a way to evaluate fiction/nonfiction book sets that they may have at home. See if they can add anything to the diagram for homework.
Ask students to use their Venn diagram as a way to compare and contrast fiction/nonfiction book sets in the classroom.
Ask questions of yourself and the lesson:
- What went well?
- What didn't?
- Are the students able to name some similarities and differences of fiction and nonficion?
- How could you change the lesson to better suit the needs of your class?
- Ask questions and observe during class discussions.
- Observe individual ability during Venn diagram completion.