Point-by Point Method, Comparison/Contrast Essay Step-by-Step Teacher Overview

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1 Point-by Point Method, Comparison/Contrast Essay Teacher Overview Skill Focus Levels of Thinking Remember Understand Apply Analyze Evaluate Create Close Reading Grammar Composition Reading Strategies Inference Literary Elements Diction Imagery Tone Types (modes) Expository comparison/contrast Structural Elements thesis Body incorporation of quotes topic sentence use of commentary use of evidence Organization Patterns (spatial, order of importance, chronological, etc.) Transitions Style/Voice Imitation of Stylistic Models Materials and Resources Selected comparison/contrast essay prompt from the Diagnostics on the Laying the Foundation website ( Lesson on the block method of organizing a comparison/contrast essay Lesson This lesson guides students through a model of how to structure a comparison/contrast essay using the point-by-point method of organization. The lesson uses a seventh grade diagnostic activity over the poems Mother to Son and Fear. After working through this lesson or the block organizational lesson, have students work through one of the other diagnostic activities to write their own essays.

2 Description of the Process Read the following directions carefully before you examine the sample essay provided. A comparison/contrast essay written using the point-by-point method of organization is structured like this: Paragraph on 1st element in passage 1 in passage 2 Paragraph on 2nd element in passage 1 in passage 2 (One more paragraph for each additional element) There are many ways to structure an introduction. This is one of the structures that works well for various types of essays: 1. Make a general statement about life 2. Become more specific 3. Become even more specific 4. End with thesis statement Using this organizational method, write a four-sentence introductory paragraph as follows: Sentence 1: Write a general statement about life a thematic statement that fits the prompt. Sentence 2: Become more specific, providing examples related to the general statement. Sentence 3: Become even more specific, moving toward your thesis. Sentence 4: State the thesis of your essay, naming the authors and titles of the two passages or poems and describing their differences. Body Paragraph 1 Sentence 1: Write a topic sentence, restating the authors names or the titles of the passages, naming the element you will discuss in this paragraph, and making an assertion about the use of that element in each passage or poem.

3 Sentences 2-4: Write sentences in which you point out examples (evidence) of the element from the first poem or passage. These sentences will also explain how the evidence proves your assertion. (Your prompt will tell you what you are explaining; sometimes you will have to comment on the connection of the evidence to the attitude of the author or to the effect on the reader.) You may write one sentence of evidence and one (or more) of commentary, or you may combine evidence and commentary within the sentences. Sentences 5-6 (or 7): Follow the same directions as above for the second poem or passage. Body Paragraph 2 Sentence 1: Write a transition sentence that works as a topic sentence and moves into a discussion of the second element. Sentences 2-4: Give examples (evidence) of the second element from the first poem or passage. Either include commentary with your evidence in the same sentences or write separate sentences of commentary. Sentences 5-6 (or 7): Follow the same directions as above for the second poem or passage. Note: You will need to write an additional body paragraph for each additional element you are discussing. There are many ways to structure a conclusion. The conclusion can be seen as the introduction upside down. In this paragraph, you start with a restatement of the thesis (the last sentence of the introduction) but worded differently. Then you become more specific, referring to the two texts you are comparing. Finally, you end the essay with a thought-provoking idea. 1. Restate the thesis 2. Become more specific 3-4. Finish it off Sentence 1: Restate the thesis. Sentences 2-3 or 4: Become more specific. Then decide whether you need another sentence in order to make the essay feel finished and to add a thought-provoking idea. Example of the Process Below is a sample comparison/contrast essay prompt, followed by a model of how an essay might be developed using the block method described above. Read carefully Mother to Son by Langston Hughes and Fear by Gabriela Mistral. Both poems are about a parent s vision of a child s future. The author of Mother to Son reveals a mother s desire to encourage her son s independence, while Fear reveals the speaker s desire to keep his/her daughter close. In a well-written essay, compare and contrast the way the two poets use diction and imagery to reveal the parents hopes and dreams for their children.

4 Mother to Son Well, son, I ll tell you: Life for me ain t been no crystal stair, It s had tacks in it, And splinters, 5 And boards torn up, And places with no carpet on the floor Bare. But all the time I se been a-climbin on 10 And reachin landin s And turnin corners, And sometimes goin in the dark Where there ain t been no light. So boy, don t you turn back. 15 Don t you set down on the steps Cause you finds it s kinder hard Don t you fall now For I se still climbin, And life for me ain t been no crystal stair. Fear I don t want them to turn my little girl into a swallow. She would fly far away into the sky and never fly again to my straw bed, 5 or she would nest in the eaves where I could not comb her hair. I don t want them to turn my little girl into a swallow. I don t want them to make 10 my little girl a princess. In tiny golden slippers how could she play on the meadow? And when night came, no longer would she sleep at my side. 15 I don t want them to make my little girl a princess. And even less do I want them one day to make her queen. They would put her on a throne 20 where I could not go to see her. And when nighttime came I could never rock her... I don t want them to make my little girl a queen. Complete the chart below with examples from the two poems. Poem Speaker s Attitude Diction Imagery Mother to Son encourages her son s independence Fear wants to keep his/her daughter close Mother to Son from THE COLLECTED POETRY OF LANGSTON HUGHES by Langston Hughes. Copyright 1994 by The Estate of Langston Hughes. Reprinted with permission of Harold Ober Associates, Inc. Fear from Selected Poems of Gabriela Mistral by Gabriela Mistral, translated and edited by Doris Dana. Copyright 1961, 1964, 1970, 1971 by Doris Dana. Reprinted with permission of Writers House, LLC.

5 Block Method, Comparison/Contrast Essay Example of the Process (Using Mother to Son and Fear ) In the example that follows, the writer has used the point-by-point method of organization to respond to the essay prompt that preceded the two poems. In this example, body paragraph 1 analyzes the diction in Fear and in Mother to Son, and body paragraph 2 analyzes the imagery in Fear and in Mother to Son. Sentence 1: Write a general statement about life a thematic statement that fits the prompt. Sentence 2: Become more specific, providing examples related to the general statement. Sentence 3: Become even more specific, moving toward your thesis. Sentence 4: State the thesis of your essay. Body Paragraph 1 Sentence 1: Write a topic sentence, restating the authors names or the titles of the passages, naming the element you will discuss in this paragraph, and making an assertion about the use of that element in each passage or poem. Sentences 2-4: Write sentences in which you point out examples (evidence) of the element from the first poem or passage. These sentences will also explain how the evidence proves your assertion. (Your prompt will tell you what you are explaining; sometimes you will have to comment on the connection of the evidence to the attitude of the author or to the effect on the reader.) You may write one sentence of evidence and one (or more) of commentary, or you may combine evidence and commentary within the sentences. Sentences 5-6 (or 7): Follow the same directions as above for the second poem or passage. While all parents have high hopes for their children, those hopes differ in form. For some, these expectations are for wealth or career success; for others, the dream is for domestic happiness or spiritual fulfillment. But, regardless of the parent s vision of the child s future, she often must struggle with the need to let the child go versus the longing to keep the child close. In Langston Hughes s Mother to Son, a mother encourages her son to be strong and seek independence, while the narrator of Gabriela Mistral s Fear wants to protect her daughter and keep her close to home. Both Fear and Mother to Son include diction that reveals a loving yet anxious attitude toward a child. The parent in Fear reveals a loving anxiety when she repeats the negative adverbs never and not as she explains what she could not do if her daughter left. She does not want her daughter to become a swallow, princess, or queen, all positive words. But taking on these roles would cause the child to leave the family, which is not something the mother wants. She wants the child to stay a little girl. The speaker in Mother to Son, on the other hand, shows her love through harsher speech, as she pushes her son to be tough and strong. His life, like hers, will include tacks and splinters, and the floor will be bare. Hughes, like Mistral, repeats the contraction don t, but, instead of having the speaker say, I don t want..., he has his speaker use the word as the beginning of a stern command.

6 Body Paragraph 2 Sentence 1: Write a transition sentence that works as a topic sentence and moves into a discussion of the second element. Sentences 2-4: Give examples (evidence) of the second element from the first poem or passage. Either include commentary with your evidence in the same sentences or write separate sentences of commentary. Sentences 5-6 (or 7): Follow the same directions as above for the second passage or poem. Sentence 1: Restate the thesis. Sentences 2-3 or 4: Become more specific. Then decide whether you need another sentence in order to make the essay feel finished and to add a thought-provoking idea. Imagery also reveals the different attitudes of the speakers in both poems. Mistral s depiction of the little girl hurrying to the parent s straw bed where the parent can lovingly rock her creates a secure, cozy image of a loving hoe. And the picture the reader sees of the girl play[ing] on the meadow is a happy one. These images emphasize the protective desires of a parent who is happy having a little girl. The feelings of Hughes s speaker are also loving, but her protective instincts are expressed in a far different way. Though life for her ain t been no crystal stair, but rather a place where there ain t been no light, she harangues her son not to set down on the steps. These images are not ones of comfort but of the hardship that she knows her son will face. Unlike the speaker in Fear, this other does not want her son to cling to her but instead wants him to become as independent and strong as he is. Through diction and imagery, Hughes and Mistral reveal two different parental attitudes toward a child s future. Though both speakers have dreams for their children, those dreams are not the same. Hughes s images and diction, though largely negative, are spoken by a loving mother determined to prepare her child for a hard life without her. Mistral, on the other hand, uses mostly positive diction, but her equally loving speaker apparently dreams the impossible dream of keeping her daughter a child forever. Putting the Model into Practice Use this model to write the comparison/contrast essay your teacher will assign.

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