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Paired texts can be used to focus on comparing and contrasting and are perfect for students to practice “analyzing how two or more texts address similar themes or topics in order to build knowledge or to compare the approaches the authors take,” as called for by Common Core. (fordhaminstitute.org)
Hellbenders and Snakes will challenge your middle schooler's thinking about science and how it interacts with our environment. The stories are nonfiction and written at Lexile levels for upper elementary to middle school. Both texts are beautifully written and well suited for analyzing, comparing/contrasting, and should be used as mentor texts or bellringers.
I know your plate is full and I'm here to help! Thank you for checking out my product and for trusting me to help you with your ELA needs. Blessings to you and yours! Lisa