A. Instructions Begin by choosing a topic for your comparison/contrast essay. You are free to select your own topic, or you may use one of the sample topics listed below. However, you should choose a topic that you have knowledge of so that you have sufficient points of comparison or contrast to discuss in your essay. You will need to compare or contrast two or three primary points about the two subjects you choose to write about, resulting in an essay with either four or six body paragraphs, an introductory paragraph, and a conclusion. In order to foster learning and growth, all essays you submit must be newly written specifically for this course. Any recycled work will be sent back with a 0, and you will be given one attempt to redo the touchstone. Sample Topic Ideas: Compare or contrast two cities you’ve visited or that you’ve lived in Compare or contrast two members of your family Compare or contrast two sources of news Compare or contrast two singers in different music genres Compare or contrast two historical figures Compare or contrast two artists (for example, Vincent van Gogh and Pablo Picasso or Keith Haring and Andy Warhol) Compare or contrast two eras in time Compare or contrast two television series Compare or contrast two types of technologies (for example, Android and Apple phones or PlayStation and Xbox) Compare or contrast two medical topics (for example, traditional medicine and modern medicine or doctors and midwives) Remember that the two subjects you choose should have a meaningful connection so that you can draw comparisons or contrasts between the two. Your thesis should convey the main idea of the essay and clearly articulate what two topics you are comparing/contrasting. Because you are writing in the informative mode for this essay, you should use objective language. Remember that for this essay, you are not trying to persuade or convince the audience that one thing is better or worse than the other; you are instead informing the reader about the similarities or differences between the two subjects in an objective manner. Please note that if you use information from any outside sources, you will need to cite them. Plagiarism is not acceptable in academic writing. B. Think About Your Writing After you’ve drafted your essay, answer the following questions about your writing. Include answers to all of the questions below your essay. 1. Did you use the point-by-point or block method to organize your body paragraphs? What made you decide to organize your essay in this way (3-4 sentences)? Sophia says: Consider the ways a comparison/contrast essay can be organized. Which organization did you choose and why? 2. In what ways did writing a comparison/contrast essay differ from the Narrative essay you wrote in Touchstone 1? Give specific examples (3-4 sentences). Sophia says: Consider how the structure, point of view, and purpose of the two essays differ. 3. Remember that the writing process is a recursive process, and your first draft of an essay is rarely your last. What part of the draft did you struggle with (3-4 sentences)? Sophia says: Think about how you could improve the draft if you continued the writing process with revision and editing. C. Comparison/Contrast Guidelines Refer to the checklist below throughout the writing process. Do not submit your Touchstone until your draft meets all of the guidelines. Print this checklist! Elements of a Comparison/Contrast Essay ❒ Are there significant points of comparison or contrast between the two subjects you have selected? ❒ Do you make clear comparisons or contrasts between the two subjects within the body paragraphs of the essay? ❒ Are the body paragraphs organized either by point or by subject? ❒ Have you used transitional words or phrases to indicate points being compared or contrasted? ❒ Does the essay have a clear and consistent focus of comparing and contrasting two subjects? Thesis Statement ❒ Have you included a clear, focused, and detailed thesis statement? ❒ Does your thesis state the subjects to be compared or contrasted and include the two or three points of comparison or contrast? ❒ Is your thesis a single sentence located in the introductory paragraph? Organization ❒ Is there an introductory paragraph that contains your thesis statement? ❒ Are there four or six total body paragraphs, each with a clear topic sentence? ❒ Is there a conclusion paragraph with a concluding statement? ❒ Have you used transitions to connect ideas between sentences and paragraphs? Style and Tone ❒ Is the tone of the essay objective and informative? ❒ Have you carefully considered your word choices? ❒ Is the purpose of your essay clearly to inform the reader about the similarities or differences between the two subjects? Conventions ❒ Have you checked your essay for grammatical and mechanical errors? ❒ Have you used spell check or another method to check spelling? Before you Submit ❒ Have you included your name, date, and course at the top left of the page? ❒ Have you completed the “Think About Your Writing” questions? ❒ Is your essay between 3-4 pages (approximately 700-1000 words)? D. Scoring Your essay will be scored according to the Touchstone 2 Rubric, which considers required elements for a comparison/contrast essay, the thesis statement, focus, organization, style and tone, conventions, and answers to the “Think About your Writing” questions above. E. Helpful Tutorials Paragraphs and Topic Sentences Introductions Conclusions Introduction to comparison/contrast Essays Writing an Effective comparison/contrast Essay Model comparison/contrast Essay F. Rubric Advanced (90-100%) Proficient (80-89%) Acceptable (70-79%) Needs Improvement (50-69%) Non-Performance (0-49%) Elements of a Comparison/Contrast Essay Properly apply elements of a comparison/contrast essay Makes a clear and meaningful connection between two subjects related to one of the writing prompts. Effectively organizes body paragraphs in one of the two prescribed ways and consistently uses transitional words or phrases to comparison/contrast ideas. Makes a clear connection between two subjects related to one of the writing prompts. Organizes body paragraphs in one of the two prescribed ways and often uses transitional words or phrases to comparison/contrast ideas. Makes a predominately clear connection between two subjects related to one of the writing prompts. Organizes body paragraphs in one of the two prescribed ways and occasionally uses transitional words or phrases to comparison/contrast ideas. Makes a connection between two subjects related to one of the writing prompts, but the connection is not very clear or lacks meaning. Attempts to organize body paragraphs in one of the two prescribed ways, but organization could use some work. May occasionally use transitional words or phrases to comparison/contrast ideas. Does not make a connection between two subjects related to one of the writing prompts. The essay lacks organization and words or phrases characteristic of a comparison/contrast essay. Thesis Statement State the focused central claim of the essay with the clear purpose of comparing/contrasting two subjects Has a clear, focused, and detailed thesis expressed in a single sentence that states the central claim of the essay. The thesis statement effectively communicates the two subjects that will be compared or contrasted and the two or three main points of comparison/contrast. Has a clear and focused thesis expressed in a single sentence that states the central claim of the essay. The thesis statement communicates the two subjects that will be compared or contrasted and the two or three main points of comparison/contrast. Has an acceptable working thesis that states a claim, but it may be somewhat unclear or unfocused or composed of more than one sentence. The thesis statement somewhat communicates the two subjects that will be compared or contrasted and the two or three main points of comparison/contrast. Has a working thesis, but it is not clear and/or focused and/or it does not state a claim. The two subjects being compared or contrasted and points of comparison/contrast may not be clearly articulated. Does not have an identifiable working thesis and/or the thesis is extremely unclear or unfocused. There are no subjects being compared or contrasted. Organization Exhibit competent organization, flow, and writing techniques Includes all of the required components of an essay, including an introduction with a strong thesis, an adequate number of body paragraphs (4-6), each with an effective topic sentence and a conclusion with an effective concluding statement. The sequence of sentences and paragraphs is logical. Includes all of the required components of an essay, including an introduction with a thesis, an adequate number of body paragraphs (4-6), each with a topic sentence and a conclusion with a concluding statement. The sequence of sentences and paragraphs is predominantly logical. Includes all of the required components of an essay, including an introduction with a thesis, an adequate number of body paragraphs (4-6), each with a topic sentence and a conclusion with a concluding statement, but some components may be ineffective. The sequence of sentences and paragraphs is somewhat logical. Is missing one of the required components of an essay or most of the components are ineffective. The sequence of sentences and/or paragraphs is frequently illogical. Is missing multiple required components of an essay or all of the components are ineffective. The sequence of sentences and/or paragraphs is consistently illogical. Style and Tone Establish an informative tone and make thoughtful choices Demonstrates thoughtful and effective word choices and uses a wide variety of sentence structures. Establishes a consistently objective and impersonal tone that is appropriate to an informative essay. Demonstrates effective word choices and uses a variety of sentence structures. Establishes an objective and impersonal tone that is appropriate to an informative essay, with occasional minor exceptions. Demonstrates generally-effective style choices, but may include poor word choice and/or repetitive sentence structures. Primarily establishes an objective and impersonal tone that is appropriate to an informative essay; however, some sections express bias or include personal observations. Frequently includes poor word choices and/or repetitive sentence structures. Primarily establishes a tone that is subjective and personal observations and opinions are expressed frequently. Consistently demonstrates poor word choices and/or repetitive sentence structures. Tone is consistently subjective and the essay is dominated by personal observations and opinions. Conventions Demonstrate command of standard English grammar, punctuation, spelling, capitalization, and usage There may be a few negligible errors in grammar, punctuation, spelling, capitalization, formatting, and usage. There are occasional minor errors in grammar, punctuation, spelling, capitalization, formatting, and usage. There are some significant errors in grammar, punctuation, spelling, capitalization, formatting, and usage. There are frequent significant errors in grammar, punctuation, spelling, capitalization, formatting, and usage. There are consistent significant errors in grammar, punctuation, spelling, capitalization, formatting, and usage. Think About Your Writing Reply to reflection questions thoroughly and thoughtfully Demonstrates thoughtful reflection; consistently includes insights, observations, and/or examples in all responses. Answers all reflection questions effectively, following or exceeding response length guidelines. Demonstrates thoughtful reflection; includes multiple insights, observations, and/or examples. Answers all reflection questions effectively, following response length guidelines. Primarily demonstrates thoughtful reflection, but some responses are lacking in detail or insight. Answers all reflection questions, primarily following response length guidelines. Shows limited reflection; the majority of responses are lacking in detail or insight. Answers reflection questions inadequately: may not answer all of the questions and/or may not follow response length guidelines. Does not answer the majority of reflection questions or the majority of answers do not follow response length guidelines. G. Requirements Your draft must be 3-4 page (approximately 700-1000 words) Guidelines must be followed or submission will not be graded Double-space your draft and use one-inch margins. Use an easily-readable 12-point font. All writing must be appropriate for an academic context. Your draft must be original and written for this assignment. Plagiarism of any kind is strictly prohibited. Your submission must include your name, the name of the course, the date, and the title of your draft. Your submission must include your answers to the “Think About Your Writing” questions Submit a single file that contains all of the assignment components. Acceptable file formats include .doc and .docx. © 2020 SOPHIA Learning, LLC. SOPHIA is a registered trademark of SOPHIA Learning, LLC.
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