AP US History Writing Activities

Discussion in 'High School' started by megawinn, Sep 21, 2010.

  1. megawinn

    megawinn Rookie

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    Sep 21, 2010

    I am teaching APUSH and want to help my students prepare for the DBQ section of the AP exam. I am a first year teacher and most of my experience with AP comes from taking the test myself. Does anyone have some advice for me to help the students feel confident and ready for this portion?

    Thanks!!! :)
     
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  3. INteacher

    INteacher Aficionado

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    Sep 21, 2010

    YES - write LOTS of DBQ's. First semester my students probably write about 12 DBQ's. By second semester, we write about 10 DBQ's timed in class.

    Have you printed off the released DBQ"s and FRQ's from the College Board website? If not, I think you should. I give my students only previous APUSH released DBQ's so they get the real deal from the very beginning. Also, I used the examples posted there as for my students as a classroom activity. They are given the student examples, highlight thesis sentences, count up docs used, highlight good vocab, highlight outside info and finally give the essay a grade. This is a great activity for students to see what a "8" looks like and to compare their writing. I also do peer editing with my students.

    The DBQ is one thing you can truly prepare you students for. With the first DBQ, I tell my students to focus on a writing a great thesis statement, using the majority plus one of the docs and providing outside information at least once in each paragraph. With each progressive DBQ, I require more and grade harder. By the time we get to December, they can just about write them in their sleep :)

    You have to practice using the documents and using the documents as evidence. They need to know the DBQ is not a laundry list of facts.
     
  4. Soccer Dad

    Soccer Dad Cohort

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    Sep 21, 2010

    ^^ I could not have said it better myself. I will re-emphasize that you need to stress outside information. It's wonderful when students can read sources and write about them. However, it's AP--they need to analyze the documents and connect them with outside information.

    As a class, go thru an entire DBQ and explain how to write it. Then, later that week, have students work in groups and prepare a sample outline. If you like the sample outlines, have them write a DBQ... then keep going from there.
     
  5. INteacher

    INteacher Aficionado

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    Sep 21, 2010

    I made a 'WHY" vistaprint stamp about three years ago to save me from writing this all over my AP kids first DBQ's. That has been the easiest way I can get them to understand analysis of the documents - to get them to ask themselves why.

    Powerpoint Palooza has a pretty good powerpoint of how to do an APUSH DBQ. Make sure you also print off the rubric from the college board site for your students.
     
  6. Navigator

    Navigator Rookie

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    Sep 26, 2010

    My APUSHers write a lot, too. We don't write as often as INteacher's students do; by the end of the year, we've done 12-15 essays from start to finish and worked on portions of about 10 or 12 more, when they're learning different components of the process.

    We also analyze a lot of primary source documents as a part of the "regular" class routines, because I've discovered that the more PSDs the kids see, the more they enjoy them. As cliche as it sounds, the PSDs really do make history "come alive" for them in a way nothing else can.

    That new, improved attitude seems to affect the way they handle DBQ essays. They're less intimidated by DBQs, they analyze the documents much more skillfully, and they write much better essays.

    Composing a strong thesis statement--one that takes a direct position on the question that's being asked--is essential to writing a strong essay, either for a DBQ or a "standard" essay. I stress thesis writing heavily with my kids. We practice first with something as simple as "What fast food restaurant is the best?" because they can concentrate on the thesis, rather than worrying about how much they know about the topic.
     
  7. molerat

    molerat New Member

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    Dec 28, 2010

    I know this is an old thread but I thought I would bump it.

    After analyzing many PSD throughout the year and and writing a few DBQ's and FRQ's, my students create their own DBQ's towards the end of the first semester.

    For each document the student is expected to interpret the document in bullet format and to list possible outside information suggested by the document. This forces the student to not only interpret the documents but to consider how each document is relevant to the topic/essay prompt. The student is also expected to research the topic, therefore I only give a brief overview in class to guide the students to discover more in depth information on their own. Unfortunately many students will only do minimal research even though it is a clear expectation. Finally they must write the DBQ.

    This year my topic was something similar to- Analyze the changing role of women in America and examine the accomplishments of prominent American women from the years 1830-1870.

    What I have noticed so far is that although the student was not limited to the women's rights movement (I must have mentioned this 30 times) that all but a very few of the best students limited themselves to women's rights and suffragist.
     

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