Basic essay techniques

Download 161.96 Kb.
Date conversion13.05.2016
Size161.96 Kb.
1   2   3   4

Name: _____________________________ Period: __________ Date: _____________


When writing the DBQ, students are not expected to have prior knowledge of the topic. Nevertheless, students must bring in relevant outside history.
AP World History expects students to mention one additional document or point of view, which could have been included to facilitate better understanding. This document is ideally a document which is missing from the discussion and which will throw additional light on the discussion. It can be a document or something such as a chart, map, or graph. Students have to tell what document they need AND how it will impact or improve the discussion. Students should be careful not to ask for a type of document from a social group which they already have. It is wise to ask for two or three additional documents to avoid asking for a mistaken document. If two or three requests are all valid it becomes evidence for the expanded core. When calling for extra documents students should say what type of document they need, from whom, and why.
Using the teaching DBQ packet, look at all of the provided documents. Name at least two additional documents you could use to support your prompt. Why do you need them?


As you write your essay, bring in outside historical information. This can include historical facts you know about the topics and authors of the documents. This is elaboration. Additionally, never forget to mention relevant information from other academic disciplines, especially art, music, literature, and appropriate sciences.
Briefly summarize what outside information might be useful to assist with understanding your specific DBQ.

Name: ___________________________________ Period: __________ Date: _____________


Transitions are links within and between paragraphs. They can change the focus between ideas within paragraphs or shift the focus from paragraph to paragraph. Transitions are critical in writing. And in compare and contrast and change over time essays, transitions make it easier to compose a superior essay. Certain words can set off a transition. A non-exhaustive chart is provided below.


In addition


In a like manner




In the same fashion






On the other hand



On the contrary






At the present time

In due time

At this point

First, second, etc.





In other words

As a result




For these reasons


For example


To be sure


For instance



In conclusion



For example


In short


For instance

To sum up


Granted that

To illustrate


As a result (of)

No doubt

On one hand

On the other hand


In fact

Most important(ly)


Above all

In comparison

In contrast

Transitions perform the functions listed below. Place some or all of the above words next to their functions.








Which of the above transitions help a compare/contrast essay? a change over time essay?

Compare and Contrast

Change over


Name: ___________________________________ Period: __________ Date: _____________


This is the least critical paragraph you will write. National graders insist you can forget a conclusion and still receive the highest score. But when you write research papers later in college classes, you will learn you cannot do this. It is the last time you can tell your reader what your thesis or main idea was. Therefore, learn to conclude in some appropriate manner. Whatever you do, do not waste an inordinate amount of time concluding. The time is better spent on analysis and interpretation.

Conclusions can be one sentence. You can restate the prompt or paraphrase your thesis, which is adequate but simplistic. Your conclusion should resemble your thesis and contain what your essay was about and what three ideas you used to prove it. Reread your thesis used in previous exercises. Write a simple conclusion.


Reread your thesis from the Expanded Core. A superior conclusion of one sentence should mirror this type of thesis. As my students repeatedly point out, this may mean a “compound, complex sentence.” Write a long conclusion.
Because of time constraints, elaborate conclusions are often too time-consuming to write. Nevertheless, they have their value and place. The best writers tend to follow this pattern. Restate your thesis. Take the most important subpoint or conclusion from each individual paragraph you wrote and restate it in your thesis. The last sentence foreshadows some future historical event, which your current DBQ influenced or is similar to the current DBQ. This means around five sentences.
Example: Hapsburg Spain fought Elizabethan England for political, economic, and religious reasons. Politically, Spain could not stand any rivals. Economically, England was poor and her queen needed income furnished by colonies and raids on the richer Spanish. Religiously, Spain was Catholic; Anglican England supported Spain’s religious rebels in the Netherlands and Protestant enemies in France. Eventually, England would win and go on to have the world’s largest empire and face her own revolts and rivals.

Name: _____________________________ Period: __________ Date: _____________


There are several other tips to writing a superior essay. Each is listed below. Read the following prompt and thesis sentence.

Differentiate between mankind’s relationships with the environment. Evaluate whether it is more important for a developing civilization (or nation) to conserve and protect its resources, or fully develop them. Decide what the consequences of each decision would be.

In that man is the product of his environment, dependent upon it for continued life, and cannot replenish many resources, it is better for states to protect and to conserve nature’s resources. Failure to abide by this rule could lead to the extinction of humanity and the destruction of the environment.


Parallel structure organizes subsequent paragraphs based on the internal order of ideas outlined in the thesis sentence. When students write thesis sentences, they should put their stronger points first and weaker points last. Read the thesis above. Circle and number the points. Write the exact order below.


At the minimum, students need four paragraphs – the thesis, the conclusion, and at least two if not three body paragraphs. The body paragraphs should not conflate ideas into one paragraph. Different themes should be separated into their own paragraphs. The number of paragraphs should match the number of points in your thesis plus introduction and conclusion paragraphs. Based on the above thesis sentence, how many paragraphs would an essay require?

Students have one hour to read and to write the essay. Within this time, you must read and structure your essay. Spend fifteen minutes reading and organizing. Use forty minutes to write. But save time to reread the essay and to make corrections. Check to see that you have addressed all portions of the prompt. If you have left something out, and want to add ideas, insert them in the margin or at the end of the essay but find some way to tell the reader where the new portion goes.




The following question is based on the accompanying documents. (The documents have been edited for the purpose of this exercise). The question is designed to test your ability to work with and understand historical documents. Write an essay that:

  • Has relevant thesis and supports that thesis with evidence from the documents.

  • Uses all or all but one of the documents.

  • Analyzes the documents by grouping them in as many appropriate ways as possible and does not simply summarize the documents individually.

  • Takes into account both the sources of the documents and the authors’ points of view.

Essay Prompt

Differentiate between mankind’s relationships with the environment. Evaluate whether it is more important for a developing civilization (or nation) to conserve and protect its resources, or fully develop them. Decide what the consequences of each decision would be.
Based on the documents, discuss human relationships with the environment. What kinds of additional documentation would help access the human impact on the environment?

Historical Background

As humans moved from hunting and gathering to farming and herding, nature and the realities of the environment confronted them. In the process towards civilization, humans had to learn to live with, to harness, or to modify the characteristics of their surroundings. Since human-environment interaction first began, since the Neolithic Revolution and first cities, there have been great accomplishments and unmitigated disasters. With the worldwide Industrial Revolutions of the 19th century, this conflict with and exploitation of nature has intensified. Today many humans realize that the environment is threatened and that humans are its greatest threat.

Document 1

Tao Te Ching (The Way of Virtue, Number 29: Taking No Action), Lao Tzu, China, Fifth century BCE
The external world is fragile, and he who meddles with its natural way, risks causing damage to himself. He who tries to grasp it, thereby loses it. It is natural for things to change, sometimes being ahead, sometimes behind. There are times when even breathing may be difficult, whereas its natural state is easy. The sage does not try to change the world by force, for he knows that force results in force.”

Document 2

Buddhist Sutta Nitta, a hymn, attributed to the Buddha, Fifth Century BCE

“May creatures all abound in weal and peace;

may all be blessed with peace always;

all creatures weak or strong, all creatures great and small;

creatures unseen and seen, dwelling afar or near, born or awaiting birth,

--- may all be blessed with peace. . . .

--- an all-embracing love

for all the universe in all it heights and depths and breadth,

unstinted love, unmarred by hate within,

not rousing enmity.”

Document 3

Hebrew Book of Genesis 1:26 – 29, first written down seventh century BCE

“And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the heavens, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth. And God blessed them: and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the heavens, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth. And God said, Behold, I have given you every herb yielding seed, which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree, in which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed; to you it shall be for food”

Document 10

Document 4

Johann Gottleib Fichte, German philosopher, nationalist, and early Romantic, 1762-1814, remarks about nature
“Cultivation shall quicken and ameliorate the sluggish and baleful atmosphere of primeval forests, deserts, and marshes; more regular and varied cultivation shall diffuse throughout the air new impulses to life and fertility; and the sun shall pour forth his animating rays into an atmosphere breathed by healthy, industrious and civilized nations . . . Nature [shall] ever become more and more intelligent and transparent . . .; human power, enlightened and armed by human invention, shall rule over her without difficulty.”

Document 5

John Muir, American conservationist and founder of the Sierra Club, nineteenth century CE, from one of his many books on the environment
“Every civilized nation can give us a lesson on the management and care of forests. So far our government has done nothing effective with its forests, though the best in the world, but is like a rich and foolish spendthrift who has inherited a magnificent estate in perfect order, and then has left his rich fields and meadows, forests and parks, to be sold and plundered and wasted at will, depending on their inexhaustible abundance. Now it is plain that the forests are not inexhaustible, and that quick measures must be taken if ruin is to be avoided. Year by year the remnant is growing smaller before the axe and fire, while the laws in existence provide neither for the protection of the timber from destruction nor for its use where it is most needed.”

Document 6

Chief Seattle, Northwestern Indian, reply to the United States’ government, 1852
“How can we buy or sell the sky or the land? The idea is strange to us. If we do not own the freshness of the air and the sparkle of the water, how can you buy them. Every part of this earth is sacred to my people, every shining pine needle, every sandy shore, every mist in the dark woods, every meadow, every humming insect . . . We are part of the earth and it is part of us. What befalls the earth befalls all sons of the earth. This we know: the earth does not belong to man, man belongs to the earth. Man did not weave the web of life, he is merely a strand in it. To harm the earth on to heap contempt upon its creator.”

Document 7

Aldo Leopold, American conservationist and founder of the World Wildlife Fund, from his book, A Sand County Almanac, c. 1950 CE

“Ethical criteria have been extended to many fields of conduct, with corresponding shrinkages in those judged by expediency only. The land ethic simply enlarges the boundaries of the community to include soils, waters, plants, and animals, or collectively, the land. A land ethic changes homo sapiens from conqueror of the land community to plain member and citizen of it. A thing is right when it tends to preserve the integrity, stability, and beauty of the biotic community. It is wrong when it tends otherwise.”

Document 8

V. Saravanand Naiker, newspaper editor, his story in Malaysian The New Straits Times Press, 11 July 2000
“People have come to realize that biological resources have limits, and that we are exceeding those limits and, thereby, reducing bio-diversity. People . . . have hunted, fished and gathered species for food, fuel, fibre, and shelter. They have eliminated competing or threatening species, domesticated plants and animals, cut down forest, used fire to alter habitats and, recently, changed the global climate. Each year, the human population grows, and . . . species are becoming extinct faster. As species disappear, humans lose today’s food and industrial products. . . . The Government should look at sustainable development seriously although development is vital . . . Without bio-diversity the lives of humans will become precarious as every living creature plays a role in balancing the ecosystem. We need tigers, elephants and wild boars. They too have a right to exist.”

Document 9

Chinese Premier Jiang Zemin's Speech Marking Yangtze-Damming for Three Gorges Project, November 8, 1997
“Since the twilight of history, the Chinese nation has been engaged in the great feat of conquering, developing and exploiting the nature. The legends of the mythic bird Jingwei determined to fill the sea with small pebbles and the Foolish Old Man resolved to remove the mountains standing in his way and the tale of the Great Yu who harnessed the great floods are just some of the examples of the ancient Chinese people's indomitable spirit in successfully conquering the nature. Such ancient water conservation projects as the Dujiangyan completed over 2,000 years ago and the Grand Canal built in the Sui Dynasty all played an important role in the socio-economic development of their respective time period. The water conservancy and hydro-power project we are building today on the Three Gorges of the Yangtze River, the scale and overall benefits of which have no parallel in the world, will greatly promote the development of our national economy, and prove to be a lasting exploit in the service of the present and future generations.”

Document 10

Dr. Julian Simon, Noble prize winning economist, his speech in Pamplona to Roman Catholic group, Opus Dei, 1998
“If we base our conclusions on the facts proven by science, the current pessimism about the "crisis" of our planet is false. Even ecologists now recognize that, in recent decades, the quality of water and air in the wealthy countries . . . has improved. Every agricultural economist knows that the population of the world has eaten better and better since the Second World War. Every economist who is an expert in natural resources knows that the availability of resources has grown [by three fourths] a fact that is reflected in a drop in prices with respect to previous decades and centuries. . . . The population growth causes problems. But people solve problems. The principal fuel for the acceleration of progress is our "stock" of knowledge; and the brakes are: a lack of imagination and erroneous social regulations of activities. People are the ultimate resource . . .”

1   2   3   4

The database is protected by copyright © 2016
send message

    Main page