Comparison/Contrast of a Headline Article

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.

OBJECTIVES

New York Times - Tabbed News

  • To learn to compare and contrast
  • To practice close reading
  • To identify main ideas
  • To create a detailed outline

  • To incorporate and analyze evidence

TIPS FOR THE INSTRUCTOR
  • THE BENEFITS OF THIS ASSIGNMENT: Having students closely analyze the way information is presented to them is pertinent to their development as writers, thinkers, and citizens. Because the news stories are current, students get involved in learning about the events and are amazed to find how similar information can take on a different meaning depending on how the stories are written. They are often inspired to do independent research.
  • THE CHALLENGES OF THIS ASSIGNMENT: It can be intimidating to find good articles to use for this assignment, though a broad range of articles, from science to politics to health to economics, are good choices. Typically it is not difficult to find a major story and match it in two different newspapers.  Just be sure to read the articles in advance to be sure that they lend themselves to the assignment. You don't have to be too thorough, though. Students will have plenty of surprising insights!
  • OTHER APPROACHES TO THIS ASSIGNMENT: There are lots of possibilities for this assignment. We used The New York Times and The Washington Post. However, nstead of focusing on two newspaper articles, you could choose to have students compare any two news sources, from mainstream newspapers to more politicized sources. The assignment would even work well using clips from the nightly news or even the Daily Show!
  • TIP: Be sure to model close reading and paraphrasing. Unless students read carefully, the assignment is not effective.


ACTIVITIES

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:


  1.  Assignment

  2. Outlining the articles 
  3. Table of key points and details in the articles
  4. Group outline
  5. Peer/self review

  6. Sample paragraph
***SCROLL DOWN TO "ATTACHMENTS" TO ACCESS HANDOUTS!***
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Bridget Robin Pool,
May 4, 2011, 8:20 AM
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