Build a Lesson
Using the lesson ideas and resources provided, design an activity that combines a subject area standard with a lesson in evaluating sources. Focus on a specific criteria for your lesson such as the importance of currency or point of view. Involve students in evaluating websites or comparing the content found in two or more websites. Ideas:
- Look for current and dated information on social studies, science, or health topics that have changed recently such as the number of planets. Go to the page to see a list of those articles that are currently changing as the event unfolds.
- Look for controversal topics and identify websites with particular views. Read the "about" pages of websites. Can you determine why particular views might be presented in this website? Go to the as a starting point for this topic. They provide a list of pages where the neutrality of content has been challenged and editing wars have been waged. Check out the . How would you determine the neutrality of articles? Also, examine the issue of Conflict of Interest. Read Wikipedia's page to understand this issue.
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>There is no truth, only competing agendas.
In most land controversies this is reasonably true; the lesson, therefore, is to be well armed to defend your agenda, because there is no winning argument.
I’m all for libertarianism, individual rights, and individual initiative. Where you and I part company is that I can no longer retain the cognitive dissonance necessary to believe that a culture capable of is, in any regard, a free one.
Always remember that no matter what style of organization writers choose, they still need to make sure that there is a clear purpose/focus/meaning to WHY these subjects are being compared/contrasted. Each and every criteria needs to be explained. Cost on a car is often an important criteria, but for different reasons. Some people need the cost to be low. Others want the cost to be high to impress people. Always explain the reason for the criteria’s importance.
Since both of these functions use similar essay organization, and because sometimes writers need to discuss how things are both similar AND different in the same essay, this style of essay is usually labeled comparison/contrast.
Writers of comparison/contrast essays need to make sure that they are not re-writing the obvious. Don’t write a compare/contrast essay showing us that a Red Delicious and a Braeburn apple are similar. Most of us already know that. Instead, writers need to focus on the non-obvious information and arguments. Write about how these two types of apples that seem similar are actually quite different. Writers want to show us how things that would seem to be similar really do have differences, or how things that would appear to be very different really do have similarities.
Writers of comparison/contrast essays often make the mistake of focusing JUST on the similarities or differences. Remember that an essay, especially an analytical essay, is also going to give space to explaining both why the differences/similarities exist and what they tell us or mean. The writer of a compare/contrast essay needs to have a purpose, a meaning, for writing the essay. Why does the audience want or need to know these similarities/differences?
Comparison/contrast can be used for informational purposes, such as explaining how Grant and Lee were different types of leaders in the Civil War, or how tide pools are different environments than the normal ocean. Most comparison/contrast writing is done to state a preference for one of the subjects being compared/contrasted. You are comparing/contrasting leadership styles, but one of those styles will tend to be closer to what you prefer, and that bias/preference will usually be reflected in the essay, no matter how objective you try to be.
The intended audience for a compare/contrast essay will affect how it is presented. The more the audience can be expected to know, the more specific the criteria can become. An audience of first-time car buyers will be interested in very different criteria than a flee-buyer for a major corporation. An audience of mechanics will want to know about much more specific and technical criteria than will most average buyers. If you are writing for a specific audience, make sure that is clearly identified from the beginning.
What does that mean specifically regarding the comparison essay? Very simple: the subjects must be easy comparable, so you don’t need to work too hard to point out their similarities or differences. For example:
Organization of a Comparison/Contrast essay can be more complicated than other essays. There are three main styles of organization: , , and . The writer should choose the organization style that emphasizes the right element for their purpose. No matter what, the writer needs to make sure that the importance of the criteria are explained. Don’t just tell us that the movie needs to be an action movie -- explain why it has to be, in this particular situation/context.