June 2001 Us History Regents Essay

What is a Thematic Essay?


Beginning in June 2000, the Global History and Geography Regents Examination will require students to respond to a thematic essay question. Likewise, the U.S. History and Government Regents Exam will follow suit in June 2001. While similar to a traditional essay in many respects, the thematic essay also has several unique characteristics. Quite simply, a thematic essay:

· Identifies a specific theme from social studies
· Presents a general statement regarding that theme
·States a specific task which must be addressed in an essay response
·Is graded using a rubric which is not made available to students during the test in the exam booklet.

To see an example of a generic scoring rubric for a Thematic Essay Click Here  use Revised for 2004 example

How do I write a thematic essay?
Thematic essays responses are organized into three sections: the introduction, body, and conclusion. Below is a visual representation of this division:
Step 1: Analyze the question.
What specifically is the task in the thematic essay question asking you to do? Look in the "Task" section of the question for key words such as:

Discussmeans "to make observations about something using facts, reasoning, and argument; to present in some detail."

Describe means "to illustrate something in words or tell about it."

Show means "to point out; to set forth clearly a position or idea by stating it and giving data to support it."

Explain means "to make plain or understandable; to give reasons for or causes of; to show the logical development or relationships of" (Global Studies Regents, June, 1997).

Step 2: Organize the essay.
Organize the information that you want to use in your essay through the use of an outline.

Step 3: Write the introduction.
Compose a thesis statement in which you explain what the essay is about, or what you are trying to prove. Maintain a third person perspective and refrain from using statements such as "this essay will be about..." In the following sentences, introduce the topics of each of the body paragraphs which will follow.

Step 4: Write the body paragraphs.
Write the first body paragraph. Be sure to include all of the following components: topic sentence, supporting evidence in the body sentences, and a closing sentence. Follow this same format as you write the second and third body paragraphs. Compose additional paragraphs if necessary in order to completely answer the essay question.

Step 5: Write the conclusion.
Summarize the subject of the essay. You can often do this by restating the question in a different way. Explain what you concluded about the essay question. Summarize how the information in the body of your essay proves your point.

What is a DBQ Question?

Beginning in June 2000, the Global History and Geography Regents Examination will require students to respond to a DBQ question. Likewise, the U.S. History and Government Regents Exam will follow suit in June 2001. While similar to a traditional essayin many respects, the DBQ question also has several unique characteristics. Quite simply, a DBQ question:

· Requires that students analyze a series of documents from Part Aof the DBQ question and answer a specific short answer question about each document.
·Presents a specific task in Part Bwhich must be addressed in an essay response using information obtained from the documents presented in Part Aand the student"s knowledge of social studies.
· Is graded using a rubricwhich is not made available to students during the test in the exam booklet.

To see an example of a generic scoring rubric for a DBQ Click Here  use Revised for 2004 example

How do I answer a DBQ question?
DBQ questions are composed of two sections. In Part A, documents are provided for students to read, analyze, and then answer questions about each one. In Part B, students are provided with a specific task which must be addressed in an essay response. The essay response can be organized into three sections: the introduction, body, and conclusion. Below is a visual representation of this division:


Step 1: Answer each question in Part A. 
Carefully read or view each document in Part Aof the DBQ question, and answer the question that follows each document. Use factual information and base your answer to each question on the specific document to which it is related, and be sure to compose each answer using complete sentences.

Step 2: Compose a thesis statement.
Read the tasksection in Part Bof the DBQ essay question and analyze it in order to figure out what it is asking you to do. Key words used in the taskmay include:

Discussmeans "to make observations about something using facts, reasoning, and argument; to present in some detail."

Describe means "to illustrate something in words or tell about it."

Show means "to point out; to set forth clearly a position or idea by stating it and giving data to support it."

Explain means "to make plain or understandable; to give reasons for or causes of; to show the logical development or relationships of" (Global Studies Regents, June, 1997).

Once you understand what the task is asking you to write about, compose a thesis statementthat addresses these issues. For example, the sample DBQ below contains a taskthat could be reworded to form a thesis statement such as:

"Many societies have held different viewpoints regarding the process of governmental decision-making and about the role of citizens in the political decision-making process. Therefore, several types of political systems have evolved over time, from those that are controlled absolutely as well as some that follow a democratic tradition. Regardless of the type of government, there are obvious advantages and disadvantages involved in both types of political systems."

Step 3: Organize the essay.
Organize the information that you want to use in your essay through the use of an outline. During this pre-writing step, you should brainstorm as many facts as possible that could be used in your essay. Also make sure that you are addressing the taskas well as the requirements from the rubric.

Step 4: Write the introduction.
A.Revisit the historical context and determine if you can use part or all 
    of this statement in your introduction.
B. Insert your thesis statementfrom step three.
C. If your thesis does not address the body paragraphs that will follow, 
    compose a sentence that briefly introduces each topic.

Step 5: Write the body paragraphs.
Write the first body paragraph. Be sure to include all of the following components: topic sentence, supporting evidence in the body sentences, and a closing sentence. Follow this same format as you write the additional body paragraphs. Compose additional paragraphs if necessary in order to completely answer the essay question.

Be sure to use most of the documents provided in Part Ain order to provide evidence which proves your thesis statement, and to meet the criteria in the rubricto earn a full credit for your essay.

Step 6: Write the conclusion.
Summarize the subject of the essay. You can often do this by restating the question in a different way. Explain what you concluded about the essay question. Summarize how the information in the body of your essay proves your point.

You may want to include citations within your essay as you use the documents to support your thesis. This will help you keep track of the number of documents you use and it will let the person grading your essay see that you have fulfilled the requirements of a DBQ.

There are differerent ways in which to accomplish this:

“In document 1, the author states that …

“In 1917 Athur James Balfour wrote the Balfour Declaration, showing the British support for the establishment of a Jewish Homeland in Palestine” (document 1)

 

Step 3  Write the Introductory Paragraph

  • The introductory paragraph needs to include a THESIS STATEMENT or focus statement
  • HINT:  Students may restate the thematic background statement, but should attempt to do so in their own words
  • The paragraph should be a minimum of 5 sentences
  • Include general examples and relevant outside information
  • HINT:  define the theme in the intro
  • CAUTION:  do NOT go into any detail for your examples...save this for the body paragraphs

Example of an introductory paragraph -  Writing

      History has shown that human activity has often changed the land people live on.  Quite often, the changes to the physical geography has had both positive and negative impact on society.  From ancient times to the modern day, geography and society have worked together to meet the needs and want of humanity.  Geography may include landforms, waterways, natural resources or climate.  Examples of humanity's altering of their geography include ancient Egypt and their intricate irrigation systems, the Japanese use of terrace farming, Peter the Great's construction of his "window to the west", St. Petersburg and the construction of the Panama and Suez Canals.  Two examples worth examining further include Great Britain's use of natural resources during the industrial revolution and a second example includes the deforestation process surrounding the Amazon basin in Brazil.  Human progress will often alter the environment at a cost.

     

Step 4  Write the Essay Body Paragraphs

  • Include a minimum of 2 fact filled body paragraphs
  • Begin the paragraph with a TOPIC SENTENCE;  that is a sentence that simple states what the paragraph is about
  • Use the Essay Question "Task" as your guide of what to include within the paragraph
  • Depending on the essay question, body paragraphs will often discuss the following categories
    • positive and negative effects
    • similarities and differences 
    • causes and effects
    • political, economic or social traits

Step 5  Write a Essay Conclusion

  • Restate the Theme of the essay
  • Include a sentence for each body paragraph that references the theme and content
  • Conclusion should be a minimum of 3 sentences

 

June 2002 Model Essay:  Geography and Society

HINT:  More model essays can be found within the "Past Regents Exams" link.  Just go to the answer keys.

 

 

Step by Step Guide for Writing a 

Global History Document Based Essay

Approach the DBQ a similar way that you approach the Thematic Essay.  The DBQ adds the step of analyzing historical documents, therefore we will have access to lots of specific historical details. 

Step 1   Pre-writing Planning - Think it Through!

  • Read the task or question
  • Read the task again
  • Begin thinking on how to turn the essay "Task" into your essay focus statement (thesis)
  • HINT:  Students may restate the thematic background statement, but should attempt to do so in their own words
  • Using a highlighter can help identify key words and phrases
  • Make sure you fully understand what the DBQ Essay is looking for

Example from the June 2003 Exam...

 

Step 2  Make a Written Plan

  • Make an outline, block, list or a graphic organizer like a web to BRAINSTORM
  • This is a critical part of tackling the essay.  Many students make the MISTAKE of skipping this step!
  • Commit 5 or 10 minutes for this step.  It is time well spent.
  • Look for "buckets" or "categories" to help organize your essay.
  • You will be awarded points for the ACCURATE details you provide.
  • Common mistakes include the use of incorrect information  or use of inaccurate examples that don't support the theme.
  • GET WHAT YOU ALREADY KNOW DOWN ON PAPER FIRST
  • Include OUTSIDE information here to illustrate the theme further.

Example of Scrap Paper - Planning

NOTE:  Outside info is listed first...then the details from the documents second 

Change / Turning Points

Neolithic Revolution

OUTSIDE INFO

- dawn of civilization

- no more wandering, hunting and gathering

-leads to settlements, need for laws, institutions

-farming...

MOSTLY POSITIVE +

...more secure source of food, steady growth, 

 

 

 

 

 

DOCUMENT HELP...

DOC 1, timeline

domesticatio of animals, food source

DOC 2, dialogue...food source

DOC 3  ???NOT SURE???

 

Age of Exploration

OUTSIDE INFO

-from stagnant feudalistic settlements to massive amounts of cultural diffusion

-cultures come together...interdependence

-independent societies living separated...no contact

POSITIVE AND NEGATIVE

POSITIVE contact allows more trade, $$$$, goods and ideas exchanged

NEGATIVE

disease, foreign domination, brutality, no respect for other cultures, slavery...

 

DOCUMENT HELP...

DOC 4, MAP of trade routes

DOC 5,  population shifts...CULTURAL DIFFUSION

DOC 6  --SLAVERY population...

Collapse of Communism/USSR

OUTSIDE INFO

1990's, end of the Cold War

-gorbachev...perestroika...glastnost

-US vs. Ussr conflict ends

-capitalism and democracy have a greater influence

POSITIVE

democracy, freedom, Berlin Wall comes down, unity

less Nuclear war threat..?..

 

 

 

 

 

DOCUMENT HELP...

DOC 7 gorby's policies explained

DOC , 8  NOT SURE HERE?? policy

DOC 9  cartoons...shortages and multi ethnic breakup..nationalism  end of one problem seems to start another...

 

Step 3  Document Analysis - Scaffolding

  • Carefully read the questions attached to each document a couple of times
  • Then carefully read the document a couple of times
  • Take notes in the MARGINS as you go.  These could highlight things like
  • positives and negatives
  • similarities / differences
  • political, social economic traits
  • causes / effects
  • Highlighting the document will help identify key words, phrases, themes and details
  • Develop your answer using your highlighted text, margin notes and document analysis
  • Complete sentences are best to get your point across.
  • REMEMBER... the scaffolding points are weighted as much as the DBQ essay
  • Go to your scrap paper and jot notes from each document that can support your essay

Step 4  Write the Introductory Paragraph

  • The introductory paragraph needs to include a THESIS STATEMENT or focus statement
  • HINT:  Students may restate the thematic background statement, but should attempt to do so in their own words
  • The paragraph should be a minimum of 5 sentences
  • Include general examples and relevant outside information
  • HINT:  define the theme in the intro
  • CAUTION:  do NOT go into any detail for your examples...save this for the body paragraphs

 

Step 5  Write the Essay Body Paragraphs

  • Include a minimum of 2 fact filled body paragraphs
  • Begin the paragraph with a TOPIC SENTENCE;  that is a sentence that simple states what the paragraph is about
  • Use the Essay Question "Task" as your guide of what to include within the paragraph
  • Depending on the essay question, body paragraphs will often discuss the following categories or "buckets"
    • positive and negative effects
    • similarities and differences 
    • causes and effects
    • political, economic or social traits
  • Use parenthetical citation after a sentence to reference the documents  ie.  (doc. #4)
  • Use a majority of the documents within the essay
  • Constantly reference the Essay Task to make sure you are keeping the essay focused
  • Weave the outside information along with the document details.  YOU NEED BOTH!

 

Step 6  Write a Essay Conclusion

  • Restate the Theme of the essay
  • Include a sentence for each body paragraph that references the theme and content
  • Conclusion should be a minimum of 3 sentences

SPECIAL NOTES....

  • Proof-read your essay.
  • Avoid listing summaries of the documents.  This would sound like  "In document 1, it says...   In document 2 its says...Finally, in document 4 it says..."
  • Avoid using 1st person pronouns.  This would sound like... "In this essay I will clearly show you that..."
  • Avoid using abbreviated terms especially those often used on Instant Messenger.  This would sound like..."...+ Slavery was bad b/c, ya know...the gov't..."

 

 

Document Based Question Checklist / Feedback 

Use the questions below to complete a review of an DBQ essay process..

1.  How many times are the documents cited?

2.  List the documents numbers used in the essay.

3.  Identify a topic sentence from one of the body paragraphs by writing it below.

4.  Is it too general or too specific? And why?

5.  List 2 examples of outside information used within the document.

6.  Identify the thesis by writing it below.

7.  Identify the categories or "buckets" used to answer the essay question.

8.  Identify an example of paraphrasing by writing an example below.

9.  List 3 details used within one of the body paragraphs.

10. List 3 adjectives, which describes the essay.

11. List 3 specific ways to improve the essay.

12. Yes or No Are there margin notes found within the documents?

13. % of block / planning completed?

Rubric Score_________ Scored by _____________________

 

 

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