OVERVIEW OF THE ASSIGNMENT
Often, we rely on a single news outlet, such as The New York Times, to learn about an event. But how is that event similar—or different-- when reported by another news outlet, such as The Washington Post?
In this unit, students will do a close reading of two articles about the same story that have been printed in different publications. Then, they will write 4-paragraph essays in which they use comparison/contrast strategies to analyze how those similarities--and differences--affect our perception of the news.
TIPS FOR THE INSTRUCTOR
Step 1: Teach students the compare and contrast strategy
Most introductory composition books teach this strategy. Here are some ideas for your lecture.
Step 2: Discuss and model various points of comparison they will assess in their papers
It is useful to do a short example together as a class in which you model what you expect from the analysis of the essays. Read two articles carefully together. Then, students should write a summary of each article in order to determine the FOCUS and KEY POINTS of each article. One of the body paragraphs of the essay will be to argue how the FOCUS and KEY POINTS of each article are similar/different. Use the handout on summary to demonstrate what to do. To save time, you can make half the students do each article and then share their findings. As a class, discuss how the key points are similar/different.
Next, introduce some possible points of comparison to use as a body paragraph or as evidence, including: tone, depth, writing styles, bias, focus, purpose, organization, credibility, sources cited in the articles, how sources are integrated, length, headlines, section the articles appear in, date, author, publication, beginning, conclusion. Have students fill out the handout that compares various ideas Doing this together will enable you to discuss .
Step 3: Have students read articles together in a group
Divide students into small groups and give them the two articles they will be working with. Just as you did in class, have students read each of the articles together closely. The success of this assignment depends on having a strong understanding of all of the vocabulary and nuances of each article. Each student should read a paragraph aloud, then paraphrase it, pausing to look up vocabulary or unfamiliar allusions.
Step 4: Assign students to write summaries and brainstorm key points of their articles independently
Now that they have a full understanding of both articles, they need to begin to understand how the articles relate to each other.
First, students should write a summary of each article in order to determine the FOCUS and KEY POINTS of each article. One of the body paragraphs of the essay will be to argue how the FOCUS and KEY POINTS of each article are similar/different.
Next, students should brainstorm possible details and points of comparison to develop and use in their essays. Some possible points of comparison to consider include: tone, depth, writing styles, bias, focus, purpose, organization, credibility, sources cited in the articles, how sources are integrated, length, headlines, section the articles appear in, date, author, publication, beginning, conclusion
Step 5: Teach students to develop an outline as a group
Working with their group, students should develop a detailed outline of your essay.
Step 6: Assign a comparison/contrast essay draft
Students should write a 4 paragraph comparison/contrast essay using the pre-writing materials they have produced thus far.
Step 7: Peer review
Use the peer review guidelines to have students review one another’s essays.
HANDOUTS FOR COMPARISON/CONTRAST OF A HEADLINE ARTICLE UNIT
The attachment below contains the following:
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