From Theory to Practice
Together, students and teacher use charts and Venn diagrams to brainstorm and organize similarities and differences between two objects. The teacher then models the beginning of the first draft, inviting students to help rephrase, clarify, and revise as the draft is written. Finally, students take what they have learned to complete the draft independently.
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Comparison and Contrast Guide: This student-centered online guide provides a thorough introduction to the compare and contrast essay format, including definitions, transitions, graphic organizers, checklists, and examples.
Venn Diagram: Use this online tool during prewriting to organize ideas for a compare and contrast essay.
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FROM THEORY TO PRACTICE
Rick VanDeWeghe writes of modeling: "teachers show how they go about the processes of reading and writing-drawing students' attention to the ways readers and writers think and the real decisions they make, especially when they themselves are challenged." In her book Conversations, Regie Routman explains why this modeling process is so successful: "It has always been our job to teach directly and explicitly in response to students' needs-carefully demonstrating, specifically showing how, clearly explaining. Whatever we want our students to do well, we first have to show them how. Of all the changes I have made in my teaching, adding explicit demonstration to everything I teach has been the single most important factor in increasing students' literacy" (24).
Further, writing out loud with students gives me an opportunity to show my enjoyment for the writing process. Students see that revision and editing are part of the fun, and that even teachers don't get it correct the first time. As an added bonus, students are frequently more eager to share personal writings with me for feedback once they see this process modeled.
VanDeWeghe, Rick. "Deep Modeling and Authentic Teaching: Challenging Students or Challenging Students?" English Journal 95.4 (March 2006): 84-88
Routman, Regie. 2000. Conversations: Strategies for Teaching, Learning, and Evaluating. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann.
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Reading and writing go hand in hand. There are so many topics and prompts that you can use to get kids’ minds going. The end of the year is a great time to give kids one last writing assignment before they go on vacation!
Read Write Think is home to many interactive writing templates. One in particular that is great to use is the Compare & Contrast Map. This template is perfect for writing a comparative essay. Kids will be guided through the styles of three different writings.
They will start off by identifying two things they want to compare or contrast. They will then choose if they want to write a “whole to whole” essay, a “similarities to differences” essay, or a “point to point” essay. Whichever they choose, they will be given information on what to include when writing their essay.
After essays are completed, there is the option of either emailing or sharing it.
This resource is a great one to have, especially for those younger writers who may need extra guidance or help if they haven’t written much before. I think writing an essay, especially so close to summer, is a good exercise to get those creative juices flowing!
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