Teaching Comparative Essays

Here’s a good hard-copy graphic organizer that can be used as a next step after students complete a Venn Diagram.These illustrations show that there are two kinds of people in the world is a very interesting and useful resource if you’re teaching ELLs how to write compare and contrast essays.Here are some posts specifically related to that activity: “Blog challenge: compare and contrast photo” Blog challenge: compare and contrast photo – this is from Edu Lang.

To better understand how to achieve success when asking your students to make comparisons, it is important to first understand your own attitude toward comparisons and how you use them in your classroom.

Keeping that in mind, take a moment to answer the questions below: Increase Student Comprehension Compare & Contrast improves comprehension by highlighting important details, making abstract ideas more concrete, and reducing the confusion between related concepts (think meiosis versus mitosis).

Enhance Students' Writing in the Content Areas The Compare & Contrast strategy strengthens students' writing skills by providing a simple structure that helps them organize information and develop their ideas with greater clarity and precision.

Develop Students' Habits of Mind In their years of research into the defining characteristics of intelligent behavior and thought, Art Costa and Bena Kallick (2008, 2009) have identified 16 “habits of mind.” By nourishing these habits in our students, we give them the tools they need to use their minds well, thus increasing their chance for future success.

Each principle is tied closely to the difficulties students commonly encounter when they engage in comparative thinking.

Teaching Comparative Essays

You'll notice that the four principles of Compare & Contrast are closely aligned with the four classroom phases of Compare & Contrast.

Using Compare & Contrast in the classroom will help students develop these habits of mind: thinking flexibly; thinking about thinking (metacognition); striving for accuracy; applying past knowledge to new situations; and thinking and communicating with clarity and precision.

The next few pages show the kinds of work students create while engaged in Compare & Contrast lessons.

Figure 1.1 includes a variety of student work samples that span a wide range of content areas and grade levels.

As you examine this work, ask yourself, What skills are students demonstrating in this work?


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