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Unit 2 Essay Activity

  • Students will be able to construct an AP-Style Long Essay using resources from Unit 2 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.

Students will use Handout A: Long Essay Rubric and read through the rubric. Students should highlight the area of the rubric about which they feel most confident in one color, and highlight the area of the rubric about which they feel the least confident in a second color.

Students will share their responses with others until they have found a partner whose self-identified strength matches their weakness, or vice versa.

After students have found a partner, the teacher will lead a discussion on strengths and weaknesses, emphasizing that it’s important to recognize the skills students already have. Students should then set a goal for writing this Long Essay, responding to where they feel least confident or another area of the rubric that they want to focus on.

Two student volunteers should read aloud the two options on Handout B: Long Essay Options and Outline for the essay questions. Each student should select one question to answer in Long Essay format, A or B. Using the outline, students should outline a response to the question of their choosing. Students can be provided Handout C: Sentence Stems for extra support in crafting sentences.
Students should share their work with their partner from the warm-up by exchanging written outlines and reading their partner’s. At this time, students should not discuss or clarify their essay; rather, they should allow their partner to provide them with feedback on Handout D: Peer Feedback using the following Praise, Polish, and Pose method:
  • Praise: Offer at least one piece of positive feedback. What was done well?
  • Polish: Offer at least one piece of constructive feedback. How can the essay be improved?
  • Pose: Ask your partner a clarifying or probing question. What are you confused by, or what do you want to know more about?

Next, students should discuss their Praise, Polish, and Pose feedback with their partner in a “mini conference.” Students should focus on each essay 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.

Students will then create an action plan for their individual outline, noting two or three specific steps they will take to improve it, on the basis of their peer’s feedback and the AP Rubric.

Students will write a full essay using their outline.

After the teacher has had the opportunity to evaluate students’ essays based on the rubric, students should be provided the opportunity to reflect on their writing progress and set intentional goals for growth, using Handout E: Writing Reflection. This will take place in a future lesson.

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