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2 What types of writing have you done in your history classes?
What is history? What types of writing have you done in your history classes? What does it mean to write history “as a historian”? Students should be led to the understanding that the term “history” includes people and events from the past as well as the record of those people and events. William Kashatus characterizes these two components as “past history,” in that the events have already happened, and “present history,” in that they were written about at a later time. Bob Bain refers to them as “history-as-event” and “history-as-account,” respectively. The contested, uncertain nature of present history, or history-as-account, should be brought out to help students realize that history is not so cut and dried, but open to interpretation. Students should be able to brainstorm different types of things they have done in their past classes, such as essays, reports, journals, speeches, debates. All of these types of writing incorporate the content of “past history” in a variety of formats. Most of this writing is “about” history, rather than “writing history” in the disciplinary sense. Historians act as scientists who investigate and examine the clues and remains from the past to make reasonable claims and draw conclusions. At the most basic level, historians are storytellers who seek to provide a narrative of the past. At a more advanced level, they are like detectives and lawyers who seek to find evidence and formulate an argument from it, providing a clearer understanding of the past. 2

3 Ask students questions about the two images to build upon the content of the previous slide. Sample questions include: What do you see? (A document and a book, or the Declaration of Independence and a book on the meaning of the Declaration of Independence.) What is the difference between the two examples, historically speaking? (The former is a primary source, the latter a secondary source; the former was written over 200 years ago, the latter much more recently.) How are these items similar? (Perhaps a Venn diagram would be useful.) Both documents are related to history and are sources of history. They both give insight to the American Revolutionary era and the actions of the Founders. Help students to understand the difference between primary sources and secondary sources, and between past history (the Declaration of Independence) and present history (“We Hold These Truths”) as they relate to the two examples. Help students to realize that both types of documents and types of writing are essential to understanding history, and in fact both types of writing are history. 3

4 1. What do you notice about this document?
2. What type of document is this? 3. Why was this document produced? 4. What went into producing this document? To begin to consider some of the elements that contribute to historical writing, spend some time utilizing a draft version of the Declaration of Independence. Use student responses to highlight the role in the writing process (the draft version of the Declaration) of research, purpose, audience, peer involvement, and revision. These questions are a prelude to the elements of historical writing that the PowerPoint® will bring out: Students should pick up on the draft nature of the document—the Declaration of Independence with lines through portions of the text. Even great writers require multiple drafts and revisions. Students should identify this a primary source: an original document or artifact that provides a firsthand account of a given event. Writing in history is typically based upon primary sources. The document was produced to explain to the world why the 13 Colonies were declaring their independence from Great Britain. Historical writing has a purpose for being produced: to explain, present, and persuade. Research into the writings of others (such as John Locke) provided a foundation for the document. Students must read, research, sift through sources, and consider ideas and evidence while in the process of writing. 4

5 Consider a historical question or problem
Research and sift through the available sources Draw inferences and conclusions to create a thesis Organize information and evidence Writing, feedback, revision, and editing Complete and submit the work Question: Which step is the most critical? “History” comes from a Greek word meaning “inquiry.” The writing process in history starts with a historical question or problem, such as, “Why was slavery more important to the economy of the South than the North?” or, “To what extent did political factors contribute to the onset of the Civil War?” Analyzing primary and secondary sources is critical to the writing process, as history is not an exercise in speculation, but in culling possible interpretations from the remnants of the historical record. In that sense, historians must be like detectives combing through documents and sources of the past. Based upon the available sources, historians can draw some reasonable conclusions. Other historians may see the same evidence in a different light due to their bias or point of view. Historians incorporate their conclusions into a thesis or central argument that they then attempt to “prove” in their writing. Historians usually do not engage in free verse. Rather, they organize their ideas and arguments into a coherent presentation utilizing time (chronology), the evidence, the elements of storytelling, and their individual voice and creativity. As with the Declaration of Independence, historians write multiple drafts of their work. Based upon the feedback from their peers and personal reflection on their work, historians seek to arrive at clarity and credibility. The final step is completing and submitting their work for assessment or publication. Have students dialog in twos and threes on the question of which step is most critical. Guide them to consider what is most important to you as a teacher. 5

6 The importance of addressing the prompt TAP: Topic, Audience, Purpose
What is a prompt? The importance of addressing the prompt TAP: Topic, Audience, Purpose Prompt Analysis—Practice Common terms found in prompts: Prompts are tools for guiding students in their writing. Also referred to as the task, question, or stimulus, a prompt tells students what content they need to write about and in what manner. Student failure to address the prompt accurately and thoroughly is a major reason for poor writing. (Of course, not having anything to write about also contributes.) Before diving into the task, students should spend time breaking down the prompt into manageable bites. Paraphrasing the prompt, using an organizer to categorize evidence, and underlining key terms dealing with the type of response required and the specific events, times, or people involved may all be useful. Reviewing one’s introduction to see if all of the parts of the prompt are touched on provides a useful way to avoid having to tack on something at the end. The acronym TAP helps students to think about the key elements of any prompt: What is my topic? Who is my audience? What is my purpose in writing? These terms are typically found in school or AP* history writing assignments. Setting up a word wall displaying these terms and using them in classroom discussions so they become part of students’ active vocabulary help students to have greater confidence when seeing these terms on a test. Make public the process for analyzing a prompt through “think-alouds” in which you describe to the class your own thinking about what a prompt is asking. Small-group analysis in which students analyze a prompt of unfamiliar content helps to make known the methods for analyzing prompts that different students have. Practice analyzing prompts with the handout titled “Prompt Analysis—Practice.” 6

7 Read as a “historical detective” to gather evidence in response to a question or prompt (putting the pieces of the puzzle together) Sourcing Contextualizing Corroborating Historical writing begins with historical reading. In order to write critically and analytically, students must read critically and analytically from multiple sources. Students must seek to put the pieces of a puzzle together to solve a historical question or problem. Remember to always connect reading to a purpose—in this case, the writing. Sourcing is the act of considering and examining a document’s source. Contextualizing is the act of imagining the setting, or thinking about the past on its own terms. Corroborating is the act of cross-checking documents to assess the reliability of those sources. Sam Wineburg, who decided on these terms’ definition, worked with historians to decipher the ways in which historians read an unfamiliar text. 7

8 SOAPS: Speaker, Occasion, Audience, Purpose, Significance 5W’s plus S:
Who? (the source, including point of view and bias) What? (the type of document and its key ideas) Where? (context) When? (context) Why? (purpose of the document’s creation) So what? (significance) The SOAPS acronym (modified from the College Board version) helps to organize the thinking about a given document to prepare students to explain and interpret its meaning. The 5W’s plus S are utilized by many teachers to help students get the gist of a document. Summarizing a document in a sentence or two is an underemphasized but useful tool for students to transition from analyzing a document into writing. Under each W, numerous questions extend the basic skeleton presented here. The final S is often the hardest aspect for students to master. A few guiding questions for helping students understand significance include: Who did this event/issue impact? How did this event/issue impact people’s lives? To what extent did this event/issue affect different segments of society? What was unique about this issue/event? What were some of the immediate and/or long-term effects of this issue/event? Why is this source/document important? To whom is the source/document important? Why? 8

9 Organize information and sources into categories:
SPRITE: Social, Political, Religious, Intellectual, Technological, Economic Subcategories such as causes, effects, women, military, etc. Categories should relate directly to the thesis Categories provide the focus for body paragraphs A single document may fall into multiple categories After reading critically to determine the 5W’s plus S or SOAPS of a given document, students need to determine what analytical category that document falls into. Then they need to see which additional documents (as in the case of a DBQ) also fall into that category. This helps them to organize not only the documents but also their writing. More categories exist than the ones listed here, but these are some of the more common ones. Once students have divided the documents into analytical categories, they can determine which ones their paper will focus on. These categories may serve as the key supporting elements of their thesis statement. In addition to listing the analytical categories that relate to their thesis statement, students should bring out these categories in the topic sentences of their body paragraphs. A single document may fall into multiple categories. For example, a debate may include economic and religious arguments, but could fall also into the category of politics if it is a debate among politicians. Students should utilize categories on both a macro level (the entire document) and a micro level (part of a document). This helps them to sort and classify their evidence even more precisely. 9

10 Create a plan or road map for writing
Why are maps created? Create a plan or road map for writing Make sure you have enough information to begin writing Various formats of organization: Outlining Categorizing and classifying charts (a column for each body paragraph, with info under each column) Two-column charts (pro vs. con, or interpretation and evidence) Ask students to consider why maps are created. (Answers include to know where things are, to know where you are going, to save time, etc.) All of these are practical reasons for utilizing various prewriting organizers. By putting ideas down on paper with the help of an organizer, students can write more efficiently and productively. Students should always refer back to the prompt to make sure that they have enough information to begin writing. The historian David McCullough has said that it is when you begin to write that you find out what you really know. Prewriting helps the writer arrive at the realization of readiness. With prewriting organizers the key is to master a few, not to try a different one for each assignment. Try out a few and then decide on the one or two that work best for your students. Consider sharing some of the sample organizers in the appendix. Thinking maps are also visually based tools shown to be helpful for some students. 10

11 Sample thesis statements:
The main idea or argument that you will support and defend with evidence Sets up the plan for the whole paper and directly relates to the prompt or historical question Supported by key points, categories, or topics in your introduction as a preview of the body paragraphs Sample thesis statements: “The social, political, and economic ideals stated by the Declaration of Independence have not been satisfactorily realized in contemporary America.” “The Protestant Reformation was surely sparked by the abuses of the Catholic Church, but it was fueled by the passion of reformers like Luther, Zwingli, and Calvin.” Emphasize that students need to take a position in their writing. Many students are afraid of writing the “wrong” answer. Encourage students by emphasizing that writing in history is not as much about right and wrong as it is about taking a side and supporting it with clear evidence and analysis. A thesis is like a hook upon which the whole paper will hang (in a positive way). Students should be able to clearly explain either orally or in writing how their thesis statement addresses the prompt. Thesis statements should take a stand while also giving an idea of how the writer will support his or her claim. The categories, topics, or elements of evidence that will be explored in subsequent paragraphs could be presented in relation to the thesis statement to help students stay focused. Although historians do not always do this, students should initially use this approach (owing to developmental considerations). Consider the categories that the sample statements bring out and the position that each takes. Help students to see the nuances involved and alternative ways of taking this stand. For each statement, practice taking the opposite viewpoint on the same general topic. 11

12 Set-up and packaging for a thesis statement
Historical background/context: “The Civil War between the United States and the Confederate States of America took place between 1861 and 1865 across thousands of battlefields.” “The late 19th and early 20th centuries saw unparalleled political changes throughout the world.” Catch a reader’s attention so they want to read further “Those who oppose immigration to America are un-American, unless of course they are Native Americans.” “At many times and in many places, the stomach has prevailed over the mind when it comes to political choices.” Introductions help to give the reader a sense of what to expect in the essay. Instead of just throwing down a thesis statement, strong writers build up to it by providing the historical context for the content implied by the prompt. This element of contextualizing, as well as the setting components of where and when, lend themselves to inclusion in introduction paragraphs. When crafting the introduction, students should ask themselves, “Would I want to read the rest of this paper?” Remind students that teachers and AP graders often read hundreds of essays, and therefore it is a good idea to make the introduction stand out. This may encourage students to practice writing more engaging, original introductions. Students should avoid using a question as the first sentence as well as the phrases, “This essay is going to be about X,” or “I am going to be writing about X.” Students could add an introduction providing historical context to the thesis statements they created as practice for the previous slide. 12

13 The topic sentence should directly link to the thesis
Topic sentence: The first sentence of a paragraph, which sets out the main idea The topic sentence should directly link to the thesis Subsequent sentences should directly link to the topic sentence’s main idea The language used should reflect the type of thinking required by the prompt Example: What were the causes of World War I? “One of the causes of World War I was militarism.” “World War I was the result of years of military buildup.” The topic sentence is like a road marker telling the reader what is going to be found in that paragraph. The topic sentence should be clear and concise, leading the reader into the paragraph’s “big idea.” The topic sentence is like a mini-thesis, in that it presents the point that the paragraph will explain or support in that given paragraph. Additionally, the topic sentence should relate to the topics or categories used in the thesis. The topic sentences should be presented in the same order as they appear in the thesis. Every sentence in the body paragraph should have some direct connection to the topic sentence. If not, either the topic sentence needs to be reworked, or the sentences in the paragraph may need to be adjusted. If the prompt is about the order of events, the topic sentences should reflect chronological thinking by using words such as “first,” “then,” “next,” and “finally.” Students should avoid merely repeating the same type of terms. For example, they should not start every topic sentence with an ordinal (i.e., first, second, third), nor should they always write “Another reason was X.” Help students vary their phrasing while staying true to the thinking required. 13

14 Like a lawyer, you must prove your case with evidence:
Your evidence should link to your topic sentence, as well as to the thesis Use clear, convincing quotes and facts from multiple primary or statistical sources—at least two per paragraph Avoid saying, “Document A says x”; weave in quotes instead Example 1: John Brown’s naiveté is brought out by statements such as “I never did intend murder…” Example 2: The “right of the people to keep and bear arms” meant something completely different in 1787, due to the socio-political context in which it was written Students need to understand that something isn’t compelling just because they write it—they need to write to convince. The evidence they select is the first step to winning their cases. The evidence must support their entire point. For example, if the argument is about Washington’s role as the first president of the United States, that a student talks about the fact that Washington lived at Mount Vernon does not help to support the main idea of the paper. Students need to realize the difference between primary and secondary sources and that they should rely more on primary sources for their evidence. They should be helped to understand the limitations of secondary sources and the role of bias. Indisputable facts, statistics, and primary sources should be their major sources of evidence. Students need to realize that the more evidence the better, but that too much evidence may weaken the case by overloading the reader. Two examples per paragraph, preferably from two different sources, on the same general topic, should suffice. Students should seek to integrate the evidence into their writing, instead of merely listing the evidence. At a basic level they can cite the document and then directly quote it, but at a more advanced level they should transform the document—that is, frame a quote taken from the document with phrasing that interprets the quote as well as cites it. Advanced students may paraphrase as long as they maintain the integrity of the statement. These two examples illustrate different ways in which writers might incorporate evidence. How this is done helps display their interpretation and transformation of the evidence. 14

15 Should interpret the evidence and also answer the question, “So what?”
The explanation (also called commentary or analysis) helps the reader understand exactly why and how your evidence supports your thesis and topic sentence Should interpret the evidence and also answer the question, “So what?” May require multiple sentences Basic example: Bob was seen at a soccer game by four different individuals at 2 pm (evidence). Therefore, he could not have robbed the store at 2 pm (explanation). Historical example: In saying that “a house divided against itself cannot stand,” Lincoln argued that slavery and the divisions it produced could not go on indefinitely. The hardest part of historical writing is convincing the audience what the evidence means. Students need to bring the evidence to life by showing the reader how it relates to the main idea of the paragraph and the overall argument of the paper. Evidence does not speak for itself. For example, a knife was discovered in the library. So what? What type of knife? When? Who did it belong to? How do we know? What does that tell us? Students need to go beyond simply stating the facts by interpreting, analyzing, and explaining. Although the evidence may only be a short phrase, students should not think that they should write an equally terse analysis. Students should provide as many sentences as it takes to make their explanation clear and convincing. (The templates may have only room for one sentence, but that is merely an initial guide and not a rule.) It is a good idea to practice with random pieces of historical evidence to show students how anything can be explained. Statistics showing a change in population, the Lincoln’s conflicting statements on slavery, the Ten Commandments—all of these can be examples of evidence with which students practice explaining and answering the “so what” question. The latter example weaves the evidence and the explanation into one statement. Students need to move beyond simply including a quote without elucidating it. Incorporating questions such as, “What does that really mean?” or, “In your own words, why is that important?” into classroom discussion helps to get students thinking about what they need to bring out in their explanation sentences. 15

16 The concluding sentence should not merely restate the topic sentence
The concluding sentence should reconnect the reader to the idea expressed in the topic sentence and thesis The concluding sentence should not merely restate the topic sentence Every sentence should matter and should fit into a coherent structure. Sometimes students feel that if they don’t know what to say, they don’t say anything at all. The concluding sentence should wrap up the main idea of its own paragraph and/or help to set up the main idea of the following paragraph. Students should practice rewriting the concluding sentence in a variety of ways so that they don’t merely repeat the topic sentence. Help students stay within the larger idea or category of the topic sentence while stretching it a little so that it provides a broader understanding of the topic sentence. 16

17 The conclusion provides the final opportunity to make your point to your audience
Do not merely repeat your introduction and thesis, but instead think about what lessons should be learned from this event, or its relevance to today Write something which will stand out to your audience—a memorable quote, or a restatement of the thesis that brings out the “So what?” of your main argument Provide another connection to your thesis with a compelling, creative summary and explanation. By this time the reader fully knows your thesis (or lack thereof). Use this opportunity to connect to something bigger: What is the purpose of studying history? How have we learned (or not learned) this lesson? How does this relate to current events? What philosophical points does this raise? End the paper like a lawyer ends a case, with clear, compelling ideas that remind the reader of some of the key points the paper makes without repeating verbatim those points. Be creative, but avoid going off on inapplicable tangents. 17

18 Rubric: How well does the writing meet the criteria?
Reflect and read Rubric: How well does the writing meet the criteria? Word choice: Avoid “I,” “in my opinion,” “obviously,” “you,” clichés, and slang Citation: Has proper attribution been given? Has proper formatting been used? Clarity: Would someone who does not know about history understand what is being said? Students need to realize that although they’ve finished writing, they’ve not really finished writing. Encourage students to read over what they have written. If there are parts that sound awkward, they probably need revision. Parts that are not convincing to them will not be convincing to the reader. Students need to internalize rubrics. Students in AP classes should know exactly how their work will be assessed. Students should always self-assess so that they have a sense of ownership of what they write. Furthermore, they should be able to identify the strengths and weaknesses of their papers as they relate to the rubric. Rubrics are not just pieces of paper, they are tools that help students know exactly what they need to do to be successful. Regarding word choice, students should read through their paper looking for words such as “I,” “in my opinion,” “obviously,” “you,” clichés, and slang. These words tend to be more associated with a conversation and not academic work. These words distract from the central point of the paper and lessen its sense of authority. Students should be familiar with the required formatting of their bibliography or works cited page. They do not necessarily need to memorize all of the conventions, but they do need to be accurate in using acceptable formats. Clarity of expression should not be overlooked. Is the writing coherent, smooth, and easy to follow? Though historians seek to be convincing with their use of evidence, a lack of clarity always loses the case. 18

19 What are your stronger points? How do you know?
What do you need to work on? How do you know? How do you plan to improve? These three bullets bring out the need for students to think about their writing. By identifying goals with respect to their writing, students can work with greater focus. As they consider their weaknesses, they can ask for peer feedback in those areas. Weaknesses also make up the focus of writing workshops or additional mini-lessons. An awareness of weaknesses also provides some motivation to seek out resources and ideas for improvement. Reflective thinking helps students develop their consciousness of their own writing and fosters their desire to hone their skills. In the end, students need to want to improve as a writer as much (if not more) than you want to help them improve. 19

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