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Transitional phrases can be tricky for beginning writers, who may select transitions that don't make sense with what they are writing.For example, instead of using transitions to show similarities, they may use ones that show differences.
So when designing a writing rubric for a compare and contrast essay for a typical middle school student, you want to be sure you break it down so that students can clearly understand the components of the essay, and how they can write each one well.
The core of the compare/contrast essay for students is, of course, comparing and contrasting.
Well-placed examples will accentuate or build a comparison, whereas poorly placed examples will leave the reader perplexed as to what you are trying to compare.
For example, you could frame your descriptors in this way: Once students have built the core of the essay, the actual pie filling in our metaphor, it's time to build the pie shell around it.
It would be as if they picked out all the right ingredients for their pie filling, but added them all in the wrong order. So the next area of the rubric you would want to address is integrating evidence.
Integrating examples is a key part of the essay's organization that focuses on just the placement of examples.
These examples are the core of the essay, so poorly selected examples tend to result in a poorly written essay overall.
That's why you should start your rubric by developing criteria for the examples, for example: It doesn't do any good if students select good examples, but can't integrate them effectively into their writing.
They help students show relationships between the examples they are comparing and help them logically flow into and out of explaining their examples.
Therefore, especially in a comparison/contrast essay, it is a good idea to make this component a separate descriptor on the rubric.