The Document-Based Question
What Is It? An essay that requires you to interpret primary source documents to be able to answer a questions. Documents might include the following: Newspaper articles/editorials Letters/diaries Speeches Legislation Political cartoons Charts and graphs
What Are the Documents for?
To discuss events and ideas with which you are familiar. To support or refute the essay questions Focus around the essay topic
I Have the Question, Now What Do I Do? Getting Started
Read Historical Background. Very useful for introductory paragraph. Read the question THREE times Identify the historical period being discussed Do NOT move on until you fully understand it
Identify the Task Identify the task by circling the main words
For example: assess the validity, compare and contrast, evaluate relative importance, analyze the significance, etc. Ask yourself “WHAT DO I HAVE TO PROVE”
Gather Outside Information
Make a list (outline) of outside information List all relevant issues, historical terms, names, and events Take 2 or 3 minutes Decide what you can and cannot use
Reading the Documents When you first look at a document, ask yourself the following questions: WHO is the author of this document? WHAT audience is the document written for? WHEN was this document written – what time period in history does it fit with? WHERE is the document from – a newspaper, textbook, diary, etc.? Is it a primary or secondary source? WHY is this document important – what is the purpose of the document – what does it tell us? HOW is the document important? You may not be able to answer all of these questions for every document, but the more information you can gather before answering the document based questions, the easier they will be able to answer.
Reading the Documents Cont.
Underline any key words or phrases that you may use later. In the margin take notes about the documents Pay attention for Inconsistencies Not all documents agree Present different view points Recognize inconsistencies Answer the scaffolding questions for each document in COMPLETE SENTENCES
Thesis Development Read question one more time
Develop an argument you can prove- YOUR THESIS!!!!! Make sure your thesis addresses all pertinent aspects of the question
What is a THESIS? A thesis is a statement that reflects what you have concluded about the topic of your paper, based on a critical analysis and interpretation of the source materials (documents) you have examined. The thesis, is the HEART of your paper. It presents what you have concluded about the topic under discussion, and provides the focal point for the rest of the essay.
If Then Your “thesis” statement does no more than repeat the topic you are writing about It is NOT a thesis Your “thesis” statement poses a question without proposing an answer Your “thesis” statement merely states a fact or series of facts Your “thesis” statement simply reflects a personal belief or perference Your “thesis” statement: proposes an answer to the question AND Declares a conclusion with which a reader might disagree, and which can be supported by evidence from the sources It IS an effective thesis
Getting Started Cont. Reread the task
Use this to organize your essay. Decide what documents you will use and where you will you use them The documents you use need to support your thesis You need to use at MINIMUM 1 more than half the total documents Choose your outside information and where you will you use it It must support your thesis Organize plan of attack by creating an outline of both the documents and your essay.
Getting Started Cont. Your essay will follow the standard writing formula Introductory Paragraph with a thesis Opening sentence Rephrase question Your thesis Introduce your arguments Body At least 2 full length paragraphs Typically a paragraph for each part of the task You need to use the majority of the documents to backup your argument The more you use, the better your essay if they are used correctly Conclusion
Write Your Essay Get to the point
Back thesis up with facts, solid evidence not fluff opening statement with your opinion, restate the question and 3 arguments Make sure you are addressing the question Refer back to the question several times Don’t quote documentS – ANALYZE AND INTERPRET IT
Key Points to Remember Start with outside information first and write it down; then read documents; then construct a thesis Use as many documents as you can as long as they fit your thesis Don’t explain documents – that is not your task! Use documents to reinforce your main points and outside information Don’t rewrite large portions of documents. Try to limit quotations to 1 sentence or less Reference author’s you are citing (i.e. “In the letter by Abraham Lincoln…) Cite every document used (Doc. A), (Doc. F)
CAPTAIN ESSAY This will help you write an essay. It will LITERALLY give you a guide to write a DBQ sentence for sentence. That means you should probably USE IT!
Paragraph 1- Introduction
Sentence 1- HOOK THE READER- interesting opening sentence about the topic. Make it a personal statement. Sentence 2- Topic background information IYOW- take from historical background Sentence 3—5?- Introduce task 1,2,3,4 etc- no details, no “I am” statements. SIMPLY restate the task Sentence 6- Thesis- YOUR opinion about the topic
Paragraph’s 2-4- Answer Task 1,2,3 etc..
Sentence 1- Introduce Task 1- NO “I” statements. Basically same as intro sent. 3 Sentence 2- 1st answer to task 1- use general knowledge fact Sentence 3- Prove Answer- use one of the documents for PROOF! Remember to cite the document (doc 3). Sentence 4- Outside information- use OI from class. Sentence 5- 2nd answer to task 1- use general knowledge fact. Sentence 6- Prove answer- use one of the documents for proof. Remember to cite. Sentence 7- Outside information Sentence 8- Segue- Lead into the next paragraph. Tie each task together.
Paragraph 5- Conclusion
Sentence 1- Re-state Thesis- DEFINENLTY USE different words. Sentence 2- Introduce Task 1, reword from intro sentence 3. Sentence 3- Best answer from paragraph 2. Sentence 4- Intro task 2, reword from intro sentence 4. Sentence 5- Best answer from paragraph 3. Sentence 6- Introduce task 3, reword from intro sentence 5. Sentence 7- Best answer from paragraph 4. Re-word thesis again. REMEMBER: “TIE UP” your conclusion so the rest of the essay wont “spill over.”
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