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An Original Compare and Contrast Lesson from WritingFix
this writing across the curriculum assignment encourages deeper student thinking

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The Most Memorable Teacher Award Lesson

Additional Samples for this Writing Activity

This Activity's Title:

The Most Memorable Teacher Award

This comparison/contrast lesson was created by NNWP Teacher Consultant Carol Gebhardt.

The intended "mentor text" to be used when teaching this writing across the curriculum lesson is the picture book Thank You, Mr. Falker by Patricia Polacco. Before writing, students should listen to and discuss the writing style of this book's author.

Check out Thank You, Mr. Falker at

Washoe County teachers, click here to search for this book at the county library.

This seven-step, teacher-created lesson was inspired by the NNWP's Going Deep with Compare and Contrast Thinking Guide. Click here to inquire about ordering your own copy of this resource.

Step #1:
Demonstrating a High-Quality Comparison:

Let’s start with an easy comparison to get your students started in thinking about comparing one person to another person. Ask your students to compare themselves to one of their parents. I have included the graphic organizer “I am the Mom/ I am the Kid” for students to write their initial comparisons in to begin the process of comparing. You may want to modify the graphic organizer so your students have a choice to compare themselves to their dad or a grandparent. This is an easy comparison because it allows students to use their background knowledge to fill in the comparison.

Step #2:
Introducing the Topics to Be Compared:

Pre-Writing Activity – Remember, pre-writing is everything that takes place before the first draft. Pulitzer Prize –winning journalists Donald Murray suggests that pre-writing is about 85% of the writer’s time. This part of the lesson is designed to allow students to add to their ideas by making a comparison.

*Put this prompt on the board and give your students ten to fifteen minutes to begin their pre-write:

"Good teachers are hard to forget. Think of a teacher you have had that you will remember for a long, long time. Was it a teacher at school, at home, or for activities or sports? Think about all the ways that person is special. Explain this person so clearly that your reader will know just what made him or her memorable for you. You may use a real or made-up name.

Before your students write, show them how you brainstormed about your memorable teacher. My memorable teacher’s name was Mrs. Brown. Below is an example of my brainstorm. I used it to model my thinking with my students.

Give your students time to brainstorm at least five ideas about their memorable teacher. The next part of the lesson is designed to help your students add details to their papers.

Step #3:
Establishing a Purpose for the Comparison:

During this part of the lesson, students will be asked to add to their brainstorm by comparing their memorable teacher to the teacher in the book Thank you, Mr. Falker by Patricia Polacco.

Post the objective of the lesson on the board: I can describe my most memorable teacher using original and quality details after comparing my most memorable teacher to Mr. Falker.

Thank You, Mr. Falker is a wonderful story about a girl who struggles to learn to read until she meets Mr. Falker who finds a starting point for her reading development. I have read this book several times, and it still brings a tear to my eye at the end.

Step #4:
Introducing the Comparison Tool:

Tell your students to work in their groups to come up with three criteria that the class will use to compare Mr. Falker, clearly a memorable teacher, and their own teacher from the pre-writing activity. Have them write their three ideas on sticky notes and bring them up to the chart paper. Make a grid similar to the one students used at the beginning of the lesson to compare themselves to a parent and use the sticky notes to create the criteria. Have students fill in the graphic organizer so they can compare their memorable teacher to Mr. Falker. Your class graphic organizer may look like this:

Step #5:
Model the Comparison Tool:

Complete the comparison first for your students by comparing your memorable teacher to Mr. Falker. Think aloud for your students so they can see how you add details to your pre-writing. Remember the purpose of this comparison is to help your students generate ideas for writing.

Step #6:
Posing a Deep Question to Students:

Say, "Suppose your teacher was nominated for the Most Memorable Teacher Award. What are the five most important details from your brainstorm and your comparison organizer you would use to help your teacher win the award?"

Give students a few minutes to highlight their top five ideas they would include to help their memorable teacher win the award. Direct them to stand up and find a partner at a different group to share their ideas. Partners are directed to ask at least one question to clarify one of the ideas.

Step #7:
Writing About the Comparison:

Tell your students that Mr. Falker won the award for the Most Memorable Teacher award ten years ago. Now it is their turn to nominate their teachers as the Most Memorable Teacher. Students will write a business letter to the Board of Education nominating their teacher to be chosen as the Most Memorable Teacher for 2008. Model the business letter format by writing your own letter to the Board of Education nominating your most memorable teacher. Older students can develop a rubric that the Board of Education could use to decide which teacher wins the award.

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