How can you differentiate instruction with a compare and contrast graphic organizer?

Compare and contrast graphic organizers help students see similarities and differences between two or more items. Venn diagrams are a popular version of compare and contrast graphic organizers. These include two or more circles intersecting. Where the circles intersect or overlap, students write or type in the similarities. Where the circles do not intersect, the students write the differences.

Another version of a compare and contrast graphic organizers where there are two topics then a single box underneath for similarities. It then branches out into two boxes for the differences.

Some compare and contrast graphic organizers use tables to find similarities. Others may use circles to disconnect differences from similarities as seen below.

Compare and Contrast Graphic Organizers can help Differentiate Instruction

Graphic organizers can help teachers differentiate instruction in two different ways:

  1. Leveling: Content can be simplified and clarified through lists and groups by using a graphic organizer. Graphic organizers are often stated as accommodations for SPED and ELL due to this. Vary the amount of content already typed or written in before the student receives it in order to differentiate instruction more. Advanced students will have the least amount of content in their compare and contrast graphic organizer so as to encourage as much critical thinking as possible.The same content must be used in order to differentiate instruction correctly with every ability level.
  2. Multiple Intelligence Learning Styles: Compare and contrast graphic organizers use both the logical multiple intelligence learning style, through the organization of ideas and facts, and the spatial multiple intelligence learning style due to the visual it creates. The spatial multiple intelligence learning style can be increased by allowing students to draw the content instead of writing it or drawing it to reinforce the content along with the written text. Teachers can use compare and contrast graphic organizers as well as other multiple intelligence learning styles such as musical, kinesthetic, linguistic, intrapersonal, and interpersonal to differentiate instruction. I noticed that when I taught using multiple intelligence learning styles my students were much more interested in the content I was trying to get them to learn.

Repetition is important for the learning of students and graphic organizers can increase this by using them as an opening, closing or homework assignment to review the content. Repetition of content is important but so is the repetition of organization. Use the same type of graphic organizer time and time again so that the students get used to using it. Many teachers seem to get caught up in the cuteness of some graphic organizers and those are often just a distraction for students. A great resource for graphic organizers and differentiated instruction is Inputting content is fast and easy with her graphic organizers because they include text boxes.

Written by,

Kasha Mastrodomenico (Connect with me on

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