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How to Write an Essay for a History Class

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Presentation on theme: "How to Write an Essay for a History Class"— Presentation transcript:

1 How to Write an Essay for a History Class

2 Common Mistakes – Level One
No personal pronouns or feelings I, you, our, you’re I believe/think/feel that….(nobody cares!) Spell out numbers under 100. During the Black Death, 1/3 of the population of Europe died. No contractions Can’t, you’re, they’re, shouldn’t, don’t Write in the past tense about past events Avoid passive voice “ing” endings, “was” Zeus, being the king of the gods, was very angry. Avoid overstatements and exaggeration The Black Death was the most devastating event in the history of Europe.

3 Common Mistakes – Level Two
Thesis is nonexistent, or simply restates the question/prompt Paragraph organization is illogical or nonexistent Paper does not answer all parts of the question/prompt Assumptions are made without evidence Floating facts – not connected to the thesis, topic sentence, or subject of the paragraph Irrelevant information – does it help you answer the prompt or question? Then don’t include it.

4 Summary vs. Analysis A list of facts from lecture or the book with no analysis = a summary. A summary is not an appropriate essay for a history class. Do not expect the reader to understand the relevance of the information, or make the inference for him/herself. Explain everything! A thesis will help you avoid a summary. Refer to the PIE(S) structure.

5 Writing a Thesis Determine what kind of paper you are writing:
An analytical paper breaks down an issue or an idea into its component parts, evaluates the issue or idea, and presents this breakdown and evaluation to the audience. An expository (explanatory) paper explains something to the audience. An argumentative paper makes a claim about a topic and justifies this claim with specific evidence. The claim could be an opinion, a policy proposal, an evaluation, a cause-and-effect statement, or an interpretation. The goal of the argumentative paper is to convince the audience that the claim is true based on the evidence provided.

6 2. Your thesis statement should be specific—it should cover only what you will discuss in your paper and should be supported with specific evidence. 3. The thesis statement usually appears at the end of the first paragraph of a paper. 4. Your topic may change as you write, so you may need to revise your thesis statement to reflect exactly what you have discussed in the paper.

7 Thesis Examples: Example of an analytical thesis statement:
An analysis of the college admission process reveals one challenge facing counselors: accepting students with high test scores or students with strong extracurricular backgrounds. The paper that follows should: explain the analysis of the college admission process explain the challenge facing admissions counselors

8 Example of an expository (explanatory) thesis statement:
The life of the typical college student is characterized by time spent studying, attending class, and socializing with peers. The paper that follows should: explain how students spend their time studying, attending class, and socializing with peers

9 Example of an argumentative thesis statement:
High school graduates should be required to take a year off to pursue community service projects before entering college in order to increase their maturity and global awareness. The paper that follows should: present an argument and give evidence to support the claim that students should pursue community projects before entering college

10 Weak to Strong Thesis Weak: Better: Best:
The North and South fought the Civil War for many reasons, some of which were the same and some different. Better: While both sides fought the Civil War over the issue of slavery, the North fought for moral reasons while the South fought to preserve its own institutions. Best: While both Northerners and Southerners believed they fought against tyranny and oppression, Northerners focused on the oppression of slaves while Southerners defended their own right to self-government.

11 PIE – Paragraph Structure
P – Point. TOPIC SENTENCE = Point/Subject of paragraph! Topic sentence should always connect to and support your thesis. I – Illustrate. Evidence. Examples. Use examples (or evidence) to illustrate your point. E – Explain. Explain HOW and WHY your evidence SUPPORTS your topic sentence. Be explicit and detailed! Don’t assumer the reader can infer the connection!

12 Introductions Restate the question as a sentence or a sentence introducing the time period or topic – but this is NOT your thesis! Define the important terms State your thesis – the answer to the question Must respond fully and completely to the question Sophisticated thesis will include reasons, explanation, and perhaps short phrases showing how each reasons leads to the next reason.

13 Conclusions The first sentence should state the conclusion your facts and arguments have proved to the reader (i.e. restatement of your thesis). The rest of the paragraph should explain why your conclusion is important. Does it explain something important about the time period? Does it lead up to the next time period? Does it relate an important idea about history in general?

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