Powerful Compare and Contrast Ancestry Project (part 2) | Mentoring in the Middle

Powerful Compare and Contrast Ancestry Project (part 2)

Several weeks ago, I wrote about helping students learn the five different styles of nonfiction writing.  This is so helpful for them to understand what they're reading.

Students needed to demonstrate that they understood the concepts, so they received this Compare and Contrast project a week or two before Thanksgiving.

They were to interview someone - hopefully a grandparent or great-grandparent - but someone from a generation older than theirs.  We developed some questions they would all ask and they could also add some questions of their own.

Explicit Instruction Needed

It is easy, with an assignment like this, for students to write about their "Person A" and then write about themselves.  What you get is two contrasting passages, two silos of information, with no real way to compare them, other than perhaps, "we're related."

So, we looked at comparing events instead:  "How did your grandfather meet his best friend?"  and "How did you meet yours? were compared and contrasted.

In retrospect, I wish I'd been clearer on that early on; as students started writing, some realized they hadn't probed enough to do a true comparison, but they couldn't get back to that person to ask more.  Had they known that going in, they might have probed more.       

You Need to Infer to Compare      

This is not easy for students.  Contrasting is easy, but comparing is not.  However, as students start to do it with your help, they learn to look for common themes, giving them the confidence to keep looking.

I Didn't Know That!

It warmed my heart to hear students talk about how they thought they knew the person they were interviewing, but this project opened their eyes to new experiences.  It was especially heart-warming to hear them find commonalities between themselves, and especially, their grandparents.

I'm so glad we did this project!  Students became so much more familiar with comparing and contrasting information as a text structure, and they learned new and interesting things about their relatives!

No comments

Post a Comment