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Compare and Contrast: Y-notes graphic organisers

Compare and Contrast: Y- notes graphic organisers

We often want students to compare historical sources and identify their similarities and differences. Whilst Venn Diagrams can be useful for this, it can sometimes be difficult for your students to fit everything they want to write into the intersecting circles. This is where a Y-notes graphic organiser can be useful.

For example, in one of our sessions, we ask students the students to compare a First World War soldier’s letter to his mother with a letter to his father written the same day:

From a letter from Thomas Baker brown to his mother, 8 December 1915.pdf (

From a letter from Thomas Baker Brown to his father, 8 December 1915.pdf (

Front cover of the A Local Tommy teacher pack

To help them, we sometimes give them a Y-notes graphic organiser with the following instructions:

  • Write down all of the key points from Source A on the top left-hand side of the Y-notes graphic organiser.
  • Write down all of the key points from Source B on the top right-hand side.
  • Next look through the top sections and write anything that appears on both sides into the bottom section of the graphic organiser (the stem of the Y) and cross it out in the top section.
  • You will now easily be able to see how the sources differ (the differences will be in the top sections) and how they are similar (the similarities will be in the bottom section).

You can print out the ‘Y-Notes Graphic Organiser and have a go at this activity yourself to see how it works.

Did you know?

The letters written by Thomas Baker Brown were also used to create our 'A Local Tommy' resource pack. It was developed in collaboration with Cap-A- Pie Theatre Company and contains ideas for History, English, Drama and Music activities suitable for upper Key Stage 2 and lower Key Stage 3 students.