Comparison Essay Writing on Fahrenheit 451, Pre-writing (Day 1 of 3)

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SWBAT write a summative comparison essay with three pieces of evidence from the novel and three pieces of evidence from a different novel by engaging in modeled writing observation and a writer's workshop.

Big Idea

Learning how to write comparison essays to synthesize across texts and units is a complicated skill. Modeling compare and contrast strategies and engaging in pre-writing today will help to break down that skill.

Introduction to Semester Paper

This Semester Paper on F451 is an exciting culmination of a semester's worth of reading and discussion.  All student will write an informative paper across at least two texts (W.9-10.2), as we are using a comparison/contrast strategy for the students to connect character insights (RL.9-10.3) or thematic insights (RL.9-10.2) to other texts, using strong evidence throughout (RL.9-10.1).  And while we are not engaging in literary discussion per se, I am looking to assess these reading standards when I have one-on-one conversations with students as they do their drafts.  

The assessment of the written work will address the writing standard (W.9-10.2), and I have included a Link to the Rubric  that I plan to use on (a site that has  provided their CCSS-aligned rubrics elsewhere on the web, if you would like to locate them yourself).

From where I sit, the main challenge in getting students to succeed on this final paper will come in two areas: first, there is a sort of girth of work that needs to be done, marshaling quotations from Fahrenheit 451 (which we have just finished reading and analyzing) and from another text; second, there is the cognitive complexity of exploring more than one text at once and doing it through writing.  I am optimistic about this paper, even though it is ambitious, because the students did a 2-paragraph version of it in an earlier unit, when we read American Born Chinese, a graphic novel. 


Comparison/Contrast Demo

15 minutes

In order to get students to begin to think in a comparison contrast format so that the can write strong informative essays (W.9-10.2), it is essential to mirror that kind of thinking in a shorter activity that can be used as a warm-up.  

I elected to find two very similar images, one from the Hunger Games cover and another from the F451 graphic novel.  I found both of these online, and I am sure you can find whatever example images you prefer to use.  

Hunger Games Image example

F451 Image Example

The goal is to discuss comparisons and contrasts, and I am hoping that the students will build on each other's ideas with their comments (SL.9-10.1):

1.) What do you see?

2.) How is fire depicted similarly or differently in the two images and in the two novels?

3.) How do both novels reflect the theme of dehumanization?

4.) Are there any symbols that you can use for comparison (Mockingjay and Salamander), and do you see them used in similar or different ways?


I selected the image from Hunger Games because the novel is still relatively hot, because one of the films came out this year, and because I know that the bulk of the students have read the novel (I ascertained this from other pre-assessments this semester).  In any case, I am hoping to stir the pot and get them thinking in terms of comparison and contrast on larger, semester-wide levels. 

Organizing the Pre-Writing

15 minutes

I plan to use some class time to help students to begin to find examples for their essays.  The previous section of this lesson has an attachment for Semester Paper on F451, and the bottom of the page provides a graphic organizer for this that will help students to engage in an effective writing process, developing their ideas in an organized and cohesive manner (W.9-10.5).  The students will use their 1:1 Chromebook computers to begin this work and will take it home to complete. 

Wrap up

2 minutes

End of class, I will ask students to complete 1-2 paragaphs for homework.  The incentive of finishing early is that I can give each student better feedback before they go to hand it in, and this creates a higher grade more likely :-)