Teaching The Comparison Contrast Essay

Sometimes teachers get stuck thinking that their students have to write a full blown compare and contrast essay (including all of the steps of the writing process) every time they write. Don’t get stuck thinking this way!

Students don’t have to write an entire essay every time you want them to practice comparing and contrasting within their writing – students can practice this skill just by writing a paragraph, or even a sentence!

As you begin incorporating this into your lessons, provide scaffolding through sentence starters or paragraph frames. This is especially beneficial for your ELL and low language students, but ALL of your students will benefit from this strategy.

Example Sentence Starters
1. _______________ and _______________ are different because _______________.

2. _______________ and _______________ are alike because _______________.

3. The most important difference between _______________ and _______________ is _______________.

4. An important similarity between _______________ and _______________ is _______________.

After students have been successful at writing sentences that compare and contrast, expand to short paragraphs. Provide similar scaffolding to help your 3rd grade, 4th grade, or 5th grade students be successful.

Example Paragraph Frames

1. _______________ and _______________ have many differences. The most important difference is ______________________________. Another difference is ______________________________. Finally, ______________________________.

2. _______________ and _______________ are similar in many ways. For example, _________________________. Furthermore, they both _________________________. A final similarity is _________________________.

This scaffolding not only provides students with a model for how to compare and contrast in their writing, but it also improves their own writing.

You might also find these ideas on integrating writing into text features, character traits, or point of view helpful.

In the supporting sentence, the first supporting sentence here,

we see that writer is talking about morning people.

That's our first type of people.

And then in the middle of the paragraph, we have the transition, on the other hand.

That's a contrast transition.

And the writer tells us about the other type of person, night people.

So what the writer should have done up here in the thesis statement,

the writer should have used the words morning people and night people.

Remember, your thesis statement needs to be specific and

tell the reader what the topic is.

All right. But

now we know that the writer is talking about morning people and night people.

So in this first body paragraph,

the point that is being made is the difference in the times that they get up.

In the second body paragraph, the writer uses another transition.

We have, another difference.

So we know that this paragraph is the second difference.

And the writer tells us what that difference is, their priority in life.

So then in the body of this paragraph, the writer first talks about

morning people and who they are committed to, what their priority is.

Then the writer gives us some details and examples of that.

And then there's a transition, however, to switch over and talk about night people.

So then the details are about the priorities of night people.

Notice this paragraph ends with a conclusion sentence.

Morning and night people have two different perspectives on life.

Remember, your body paragraphs need to have some kind of a conclusion or

a transition so that they flow into the next paragraph.

So in the third body paragraph here, the writer doesn't use a transition,

but the writer does use the key words morning and night people.

And we get the third way that they're different,

which is the kind of activities they choose.

Here the writer uses the transition, for example, and mentions the first type of

people, morning people, and tells us about their activities.

And down here we see the transition again, on the other hand, night people.

And then we learn about their activities.

And then this essay has a short conclusion.

They had a short introduction and a short conclusion and that's all you need.

You don't need to spend a lot of time on these two parts.

This one uses the transition, to sum up, and

it just uses three sentences to give a summary of the points made in this essay.

So that's a pretty good example of a compare-and-contrast essay.

If you're just starting out, try to do as well as this student did.

And if you're a little more experienced,

see if you can use more details in your body paragraphs.

And, remember, the thesis statement must tell us what the topic is and

then what kind of an essay you'll be writing, whether it's compare or contrast.

Have fun writing your own essay.

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