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For the past several years of my teaching career, I have used this comparative essay as the “capstone” writing piece for my sophomore English students (though this essay would probably work even better at the junior and senior level). The premise is fairly simple: students choose their two favorite pieces of literature from the year (poems, short stories, novels, nonfiction works, or a combination) and write an essay comparing the themes and literary devices in those works.
All of the materials I use when teaching this unit are included:
-Transitional works cheat sheet
-Comparative chart teacher model
-Model body paragraph
-Peer editing activity
Finally, I will warn you that this is a challenging essay. It works great at the honors level and is meant to challenge students in their writing and literary analysis skills. It pushes students to think critically about authors’ purposes and techniques. Therefore, students would need to have had a good amount of practice analyzing themes and devices BEFORE writing this essay. My students have always written SEVERAL literary analysis and commentary-style essays prior to tackling the comparative essay beast! :) That being said, this essay is not an impossible task, and I’ve broken it down in such a way that it is manageable.