Beacon Lesson Plan Library

Everyday Use

Cynthia Youngblood
Santa Rosa District Schools


While reading a short story, students make notations about characters on small, sticky notes that they will use in a comparison/contrast essay.


The student selects and uses appropriate pre-writing strategies, such as brainstorming, graphic organizers, and outlines.

The student drafts and revises writing that: is focused, purposeful, and reflects insight into the writing situation; has an organizational pattern that provides for a logical progression of ideas; has effective use of transitional devices that contribute to a sense of completeness; has support that is substantial, specific, relevant, and concrete; demonstrates a commitment to and involvement with the subject; uses creative writing strategies as appropriate to the purpose of the paper; demonstrates a mature command of language with precision of expression; has varied sentence structure; and has few, if any, convention errors in mechanics, usage, punctuation, and spelling.

The student produces final documents that have been edited for: correct spelling; correct punctuation, including commas, colons, and common use of semicolons; correct capitalization; correct sentence formation; correct instances of possessives, subject/verb agreement, instances of noun/pronoun agreement, and the intentional use of fragments for effect; and correct formatting that appeals to readers, including appropriate use of a variety of graphics, tables, charts, and illustrations in both standard and innovative forms.

The student organizes information using appropriate systems.

The student writes fluently for a variety of occasions, audiences, and purposes, making appropriate choices regarding style, tone, level of detail, and organization.


-Short story “Everyday Use” by Alice Walker (in most American literature texts)
-Sticky notes
-Pen or pencil
-Venn Diagram (Draw two intersecting circles.)


1. Obtain copies of “Everyday Use” by Alice Walker.
2. Class reads story.
3. Make copies of a sample Venn Diagram for all students.
4. Teacher makes an example for students.
5. Obtain sticky “post-it” notes
6. Download and make copies of assessment rubric.


1. Explain to students that they will write a comparison/contrast essay about two sisters in the short story, “Everyday Use”, by Alice Walker

2. While reading the short story “Everyday Use”, students use small sticky notes to jot down the personality characteristics, physical descriptions, and dialogue of the two sisters, Dee (Wangero) and Maggie. They will place these notes on the text.

3. Instruct students to use these notations and their own conclusions about both characters to complete a Venn Diagram, listing the similarities and differences of Dee and Maggie. (Distribute sample copies of Venn Diagrams to class.)
(EXAMPLE- Similarities: Both are proud of their Black heritage. Both get angry. Both are unconditionally loved by their mother. Both want the quilt.
Differences: Dee is adventuresome, clearly attractive and proud of it. Dee’s hair glistens, and her skin is softer and lighter. Dee wants the heirloom quilt so that she can use it as a
decoration for her home. Maggie has a strong sense of family background. Maggie is shy, submissive, and nervous. She is homely and scarred from burns that she received in a house fire. She wants the heirloom quilt because of its practical everyday use.)

4. Students may be creative when making Venn Diagrams, using pictures and drawings to illustrate the characters.

5. Review the Venn Diagrams and informally assesses to see if the student listed both similarities and differences. Give feedback.

6. Instruct students to use the information on the Venn Diagram to write an expository essay, comparing and contrasting the characters of the two sisters, Dee (Wangero) and Maggie. (Two days outside of class.)

7. Discuss with the class the two different ways to write a comparison/contrast essay.


Select one of the two methods of comparison to structure your paper.

1. Point-by-point presents information about each essay according to the points of similarity or difference. For example:
I. Introduction
II. Topic of Comparison
A. Dee
B. Maggie
III. Topic of Comparison
A. Dee
B. Maggie
IV. Conclusions

2. Whole-by-whole presents all the information about one essay before discussing the other. This organization tends to be more difficult to handle. For example:
I. Introduction
II. Dee
A. Topic of Comparison a
B. Topic of Comparison b
III. Maggie
A. Topic of Comparison a
B. Topic of Comparison b
IV. Conclusions

8. Review the “Scoring Rubric for Writing Essays- with students prior to their beginning to write. (See attached file.)

9. Evaluate essays. (See attached file.)


Assess the essays using the using “Scoring Rubric for Writing Essay.” (See attached file.) Prior to do an assessment of the essay, formatively assess each student's Venn diagram to make sure they are properly recording and organizing the information needed to write the essay.


Students could do this assignment using characters from other stories, plays, or novels.

Attached Files

Scoring Rubric for Writing Essays.     File Extension: pdf

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