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Unit 1 Essay Activity

  • Students will be able to construct an AP-Style Long Essay using resources from Unit 1 of Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness to practice constructing a historical argument.
  • Students will be able to analyze the AP Long Essay Rubric to reflect on their own skills in the context of the AP Exam.

  1. Students will read through the Handout A: Long Essay Rubric, focusing on the thesis and evidence points. Students should highlight in one color the area of the rubric about which they feel most confident and highlight in a second color the area of the rubric about which they feel the least confident.
  2. The teacher will lead a discussion on student questions about the AP Long Essay Rubric. Assure students that the rubric is a tool not only for the reader who will score their exam in May but also for the student, who can use it as a checklist to ensure their essay addresses as many aspects of the rubric as possible. In this outline, they will focus on writing a strong comparative thesis statement that is supported by specific and relevant evidence.

  1. Two student volunteers should read aloud the two options on Handout B: Long Essay Options and Outline for the essay questions.
  2. Each student should select option A or B to answer and outline a response to the chosen question. Students can be provided Handout E: Comparative Thesis Statements and Sentence Stems for extra support in crafting sentences.
    1. Praise: Offer at least one piece of positive feedback. What was done well?
    2. Polish: Offer at least one piece of constructive feedback. How can the essay be improved?
    3. Pose: Ask your partner a clarifying or probing question. What are you confused by, or what do you want to know more about?
  3. Students should share their written outlines with a partner. At this time, students should not discuss or clarify their outlines but rather allow their partner to provide them feedback on Handout C: Peer Feedback using the Praise, Polish, and Pose method.
  4. Next, students should discuss their Praise, Polish, and Pose feedback with their partner in a “mini conference.” Students should focus on each outline, one at a time, spending approximately three minutes per outline. Students should have the opportunity to respond to their partner’s feedback or record any information necessary to improve their work.

  1. After the teacher has had the opportunity to evaluate student outlines based on the rubric, students should be provided the opportunity to reflect on their writing progress and set intentional goals for growth, using Handout D: Writing Reflection.

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