One great way to help your students think critically is to help them write compare and contrast essays. In this kind of essay, students choose two or sometimes three different topics, ideas or concepts. They write about the similarities between these things, using specific evidence to back up their assertions. Then they write about the ways these two things are different, again proving their points using evidence. Often, compare and contrast essays close with some reflection about the meaning behind the comparison students have made, or an analysis of why it is important. Because compare and contrast essays are relatively concrete in structure, they can be a great way for novice essayists to practice their skills while still engaging in deep and analytic thought. This lesson provides some topics that will get your students going with comparison and contrast essays.