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Unit 3 Essay Activity

  • Students will be able to construct a thesis statement and outline for a continuity and change prompt using resources from Unit 3 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 constructing a thesis and using specific and relevant evidence in support of an argument.

Students will use Handout A: Long Essay Rubric and read through the rubric, focusing on the thesis and evidence points. 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.

The teacher will lead a discussion on student questions on 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 can also be used as a checklist for the student to ensure that 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.

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 Option A or Option B to answer and outline a response to the chosen question.

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 with feedback on Handout C: Peer Feedback using the 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 outline, one at a time, spending approximately three minutes each. Students should have the opportunity to respond to their partner’s feedback or record any information to improve their outline.

Students will then create a two- or three-step action plan for improving their outlines, noting specific steps they will take to improve their work, on the basis of their peer’s feedback and the AP Rubric.

After the teacher has had the opportunity to evaluate students’ outlines on the basis of 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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