K-12 Teaching and Learning From the UNC School of Education

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Learning outcomes


  • Students will practice using the graphic organizer for comparing and contrasting.
  • Students will organize similarities and differences between black bears and one other type of bear.


  • Learners will use information from their Bear Attribute Charts to create a Venn Diagram.
  • The learner will write and illustrate at least two sentences comparing/contrasting 2 types of bears in his/her Bear Research Journal.

Teacher planning

Time required for lesson

45 minutes


  • a small group table (approx. 7 students) in the classroom
  • chart paper
  • marker


Students need to have completed two Attribute Charts (one on black bears and one on either panda, polar or grizzly bears) in their Bear Research Journals. (This is one strategy lesson from the unit titled, “We’re Bearly Different!: Comparing and Contrasting Bears and Humans”)


This activity will be repeated 3 times, once for each bear group.

  1. Have all students who researched the panda bring their Bear Research Journals and a pencil to the small group table in the classroom.
  2. Ask students: “Are the black bear and the panda bear are mostly the same or mostly different?” (hopefully you’ll hear both answers) “What can we use to decide?” (the notes in our Attribute Charts) Have students open to their charts and offer some facts.
  3. Point out that every student has 2 pages of information, (can have students quickly count by 2s to see how many total pages of information are within this little group) and that we need a way to organize all our information in one place.
  4. Tell the students: “I know a trick that good readers and writers use when they’re deciding if two things are the same or different and they have lots of information. It’s called a Venn Diagram. Why don’t we make a Venn Diagram right now so we can see if the black bear and the panda bear are mostly the same or mostly different.”
  5. Using chart paper on the small group table, draw the two circles and explain how one circle is only for things about the black bear, one circle is only for things about the panda bear, and how the space in the middle is for things both bears have. “Ok, which circle should be for the black bear? What happens if we start writing our notes in and we forget which circle we picked?” (prompt the suggestion for labels)
  6. Label all 3 spaces, then have students point/touch the space you describe like such “What if we said both bears have purple fur? Where would we write that?” (Students touch middle area) “What if we said the black bear is a good swimmer, but not the panda bear? Where would we write that fact?” (Students point)
  7. Give students 2-3 minutes to look over their notes and decide on one fact they’d like to add to the Venn Diagram. Then, as each child shares their fact, have the other kids point to where they think the fact should be written.
  8. After filling in the Venn Diagram, write the following sentence starters for the students to copy, complete and illustrate in their Bear Research Journal: “Black bears and panda bears are different because…” and “Black bears and panda bears are the same because…”
  9. Repeat with the polar bear and grizzly bear groups. After this, talk with the whole class about using a Venn Diagram to *compare* two things. Ask for suggestions of other things we could compare (cats & dogs, boys & girls, etc.).


Students who have participated in the small group part of the lesson and wrote and illustrated two sentences comparing and contrasting the bears will have met the lesson goals.

Supplemental information

See the unit titled, “We’re Bearly Different!: Comparing and Contrasting Bears and Humans” for more information.

  • Common Core State Standards
    • Mathematics (2010)
      • Grade 1

        • Measurement & Data
          • 1.MD.4 Organize, represent, and interpret data with up to three categories; ask and answer questions about the total number of data points, how many in each category, and how many more or less are in one category than in another.

North Carolina curriculum alignment

Mathematics (2004)

Grade 1

  • Goal 5: Algebra - The learner will demonstrate an understanding of classification and patterning.
    • Objective 5.02: Use Venn diagrams to illustrate similarities and differences in two sets.