Ap american History Mr. Caroddo Suggestions for Writing An ap us history dbq

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AP American History Mr. Caroddo
Suggestions for Writing An AP US History DBQ
1 Read the instructions carefully. Be certain that you understand what they require.
2 Read the question CAREFULLY! Note the fundamental problem to be discussed, and any sub-topics that the question requires you to deal with. This includes a clear awareness of the time frame.
“Although New England and the Chesapeake region were both settled largely by people of English origin, by 1700 the regions had evolved into two distinct societies. Why did this difference in development occur?
Use the documents AND your knowledge of the colonial period up to 1700 to develop your answer.
In this example, no subtopics are specified; it is therefore up to you to find an organization. The question requires you to contrast the two regions, and then explain differences in development. The first step is to identify the differences.
One very useful tool for analysis is the PERSIA concept: separate your observations into categories for analysis using an acrostic:
P = political

E = economic

R = religious

S = social

I = intellectual

A = aesthetic

3 Make a quick list of factual data that might bear on the question. Group them according to the sub-topics (in this instance, using the acrostic PERSIA).
4 Read and analyze the documents. Read critically. Do not take everything at face value. Use a highlighter to mark important statements, and make marginal notations. Some questions to ask about the documents:
(A) Who or what at is the source of the document? What bias does the source have? What do you know about the source? What audience is being addressed, and how might that influence what is said? Is the source a primary source (a letter, journal entry, speech, or contemporary cartoon, for example) or a secondary source (a historians' interpretation, a chart or graph).

(B) How reliable is the document? Statistical charts are very reliable, but may not provide an explanation for the data. Primary sources often have a bias. The author of the document is frequently part of the controversy. A journal entry written contemporaneously is more reliable than a recollection or memoir written after the events. In the example given, documents B and C, ships’ manifests, are extremely reliable, but give little clue as to meaning; documents D and E are also very reliable, but require a knowledge of context in order to be understood.

(C) Note when one document apparently contradicts another. Why is this so? (For example, they may be written by individuals on opposite sides of a controversy, as in documents G and H of the example given.) Is there some way to reconcile the two, or must you decide which document best conforms to the truth as you understand it. (Bias, in and of itself, does not invalidate a position; the issue is not whether the observer is biased but whether the insight provided conforms to reality.)
5 If you do not understand a picture, graph, or cartoon, then do not use it! Interpreting a document incorrectly will have a negative impact on your answer.
6 As you read, note which documents can be used with each sub-topic.
7 Look at your list of factual information and strike off anything that is mentioned in the documents. If the document mentions it, then it is no longer considered outside information.
8 Decide on your thesis statement.
9 Construct an outline of your answer. Order the documents in the outline, and try to include at least two pieces of outside information to support each document used or each sub-topic. Avoid using the documents in alphabetical order! This is easy to do, but leads to mere summarization of the documents. If you have done a good analysis, and order your use of documents analytically, you will not have this problem.
10 Write your essay. Follow your outline and avoid tangents. You have limited time, and must use that time wisely.
(A) The first paragraph should always restate the question and provide the thesis within the first two sentences. YOU MUST HAVE A CLEAR THESIS STATEMENT!!!!!!! THIS IS NOT MYSTERY HISTORY!!! Your thesis provides the point of view or interpretation which informs every other paragraph.
(B) The second paragraph should sketch the immediate historical context. This helps you establish your outside knowledge, and the framework for interpreting the documents. Do not, however, spend too much space here.

(C) The next group of paragraphs should be devoted to one sub-topic apiece. Limit one sub-topic to each paragraph. Support each paragraph with at least one document and two pieces of outside information. Each paragraph should support your thesis explicitly.

(i) Don't quote the documents directly. That will waste time. Quote them indirectly. Above all, analyze and evaluate them, don't just recite them.
(ii) Refer to the documents by the author or source. Identify them by putting the letter of the document in parentheses.
11 Don't forget your expository essay writing skills. Every essay requires an introductory essay, three to five paragraphs in the main body, each of which relates to your thesis, and a concluding paragraph.
(A) Clarity and not creativity is the greatest value in style. You must convince the Reader that you thoroughly understand the question in all of its dimensions, and that you command the facts enough to marshall them in support of your thesis.
(B) Planning your essay should take about half your available time. Do not try to skip this!
12 Common weaknesses:

A. Mere paraphrasing of documents A-Z

B. Too much direct quotation.

C. Organization is lacking: repetitious

D. No awareness of various sophistication levels of documents. Different levels of sophistication are intentionally built into the documents to test students' critical awareness.

E. Relies solely on documents and includes no outside information.

F. Uses only outside information and makes no reference to documents -- written to students' own knowledge of the time period.

G. "Garden of Eden" approach--too far back with background and pays no attention to the time frame set by the question.
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