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Comparing & Contrasting Texts on the Same Topic: Lesson for Kids

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  • 0:04 Comparing Text Types
  • 1:44 Compare the Content of…
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Bethany Calderwood

Bethany has taught special education in grades PK-5 and has a master's degree in special education.

When you do research, you often use multiple sources. In this lesson you will learn how to compare and contrast sources based on reliability and content.

Comparing Text Types

Zach is doing a report on Mars. He's using two different sources and needs to compare the information he finds. How should he compare the two texts and the information they contain? Let's take a look.

First, Zach should compare some important details about his sources.

Start by making sure you know what kind of text you're using. Is it a book, magazine article, journal article, online article, or something else? Zach's first source is a book called Mars from a series called The Library of the Nine Planets. His second source is an online article called ''Solar System Exploration: Mars.''

You need to learn about the source or author of your text in order to determine their reliability. In other words, what knowledge does the author have of the subject? How accurate is their information likely to be? A reliable source on any topic should have a strong background in the subject of the text. For an account of an event, the reliable sources are the people who were close to the time and place the event happened. Zach's book, Mars, is written by the editor of a science magazine. His article comes from the official website of NASA, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.

For scientific topics, more recent texts are better because scientific knowledge is always growing and changing. For historical topics or current events, it's preferable to also have information that was published close to the date of the event being described. Zach's book was written in 2005. The article does not have a publication date, but it contains links to news items as recent as 2016.

Compare the Contents of the Texts

Once you have compared the facts about your texts, it's time to read the texts and compare the information.

  • Find the main ideas in each text.
  • Notice what supporting pieces of information are contained in the texts. If a detail is the same in both sources, it's probably important.
  • Take note if one source contains information that is not included in the other.
  • Finally, find out if the sources contradict each other in any way. A contradiction is when two sources directly disagree on a detail or fact.

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