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How can I best compare and contrast the significance of literacy competency, preparing...

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dfstokich | eNotes Newbie

Posted July 28, 2013 at 11:46 PM via web

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How can I best compare and contrast the significance of literacy competency, preparing children for adult roles, and getting fit and staying fit as components of an after-school program?

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Lori Steinbach | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Distinguished Educator

Posted July 29, 2013 at 3:00 PM (Answer #1)

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Unless I am reading your question incorrectly, you want to compare and contrast, in an essay, three components of an after-school program: literacy competency, preparing children for adult roles, and getting/staying fit. A compare and contrast essay or speech can usually be organized one of two ways, no matter how many elements are being compared and contrasted. To make things a little less confusing here, I will refer to your three topics as A, B, and C.

One organizational strategy is to write everything you want to say about A, followed by everything about B and then C. This seems simple and obvious, but the important thing here is to make certain that each section (A, B, and C) matches the others in form and content to avoid confusing your readers. For example, if you talk about cost as an issue for one topic, include it, in the same order, for all of them; if you want to mention the advantages and disadvantages, do so for all of them. Use the same order and structure so the reader can clearly see your organization. (Think of this al writing all of A, all of B, and all of C.) In outline form, it might look something like this:

  I.  Topic A

      A.  Issue 1

      B.  Issue 2

      C. Issue 3

 II.  Topic B

      A. Issue 1

      B. Issue 2

      C. Issue 3

III.  Topic C

      A. Issue 1

      B. Issue 2

      C. Issue 3

A second organizational strategy is to choose some specific points of comparison for all three and talk about each of them under those points. It is obvious that you will not be able to write everything about all three of these topics in a typical essay, so this helps you focus on the most significant issues and points of comparison/contrast. (Think of this as point-by-point comparison.) An outline for this pattern would look something like this:

  I.  Point of comparison/contrast 1

     A. Topic A

     B. Topic B

     C.  Topic C

 II.  Point of comparison/contrast 2

     A.  Topic A

     B.  Topic B

     C.  Topic C

III.  Point of comparison/contrast 3

     A.  Topic A

     B.  Topic B

     C.  Topic C

In general, if you want to write all about each topic so your readers have many points of comparison and contrast, the first model is better. If, however, you only want to highlight a few key points of comparison and contrast, the second choice would be more effective. In either case, it is essential that you have a clear organizational pattern to avoid confusing your readers.

If you are allowed/supposed to make a final judgment or assessment, you could certainly do that using either outline; if you are not, choose the format which will most effectively present your material so readers can clearly see the similarities and differences between these three elements. 

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