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Sunday, September 11, 2011

To My Classes

Writing Tips for Social Studies Classes: This is helpful to better understand what Social Studies questions ask students. This will soon be a handout for our binders. Please enjoy because this will really help and was written by our Social Studies Department Head Mr. Peek.

Adapted from Timed Writing Practice: Comparative Essay developed by Chris Peek at Bellaire High School, Bellaire, TX.

Successful Social Studies essays have an underlying shared core structure. This core plays an essential role in a student’s ability to construct a logical argument. This core consists of a thesis, supporting paragraphs and a conclusion. The following steps help guide students through the process of understanding the formal writing prompt.

1. Determine the task: What are you being asked to do?

Examples of possible task words which often appear in essay prompts:
Analyze:
The process of separating the parts of a given topic into its component parts in order to examine each part in detail and to reach a conclusion or determine the relationship of the parts to the whole topic.
Argue:
The process of presenting a case for and/or against a particular proposition.
Assess:
The process of determining the importance or validity of a topic/statement/idea; to judge the worth of something through examination.
Compare:
The process of examining a given topic(s) for the purpose of determining similarities AND differences.
Contrast:
The process of showing points of difference between two or more topics/events/ideas.
Discuss:
The process of examining a subject closely to present arguments for and against in order to reach a conclusion; to present in detail for examination in order to reach a conclusion.
Evaluate:
The process of making a judgment about the worth or value of something based on evidence and stated including one’s opinion.
Interpret:
The process of explaining the meaning of something in clear, explicit terms.
Justify:
The process of proving something to be right or valid in order to absolve from possible guilt.

2. Determine the parameters of the prompt: What dates, places, people, ideas, and/or events are mentioned specifically?

3. Identify the key terms: What key words such as economics, nationalism, and/or gender are included in the prompt?

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