Our fourth and fifth graders spent a bit of time exploring who Santa is (or was) based on the following three passages; Biography.com article on St. Nicholas, The New York Sun Editorial-Yes, Virginia there is a Santa Claus, and Account of a Visit from St. Nicholas.
The first step in our process was to enter into the Making Thinking Visible thinking routine entitle Chalk Talk. The learners were placed in groups of two or three and asked to spend five minutes reading an article found on the chart paper together aloud. Then they were directed to respond to the piece by writing directly on the chart paper. During this I encouraged each learner to read and add to other's responses with a comment or a question. This process was repeated two so that all learners were give an opportunity with all three passages.
After we have completed the Chalk Talk process we spent time comparing and contrasting versions of St. Nicholas. During this stage, students collected text evidence and placed that evidence into a graphic organizer of their choice before completing their individual writing pieces.
We still have some work to do on students' introductions and conclusions, but overall the comparisons shown in their writing had real depth that was backed up with evidence from our text .