It's been two weeks of winter break and as I head back to class in a few days, I started to stress a little about the DBQ my students were supposed to write during vacation. I know, never a good idea. It's not really due until later next week, and honestly "due" is a relative term. I am not too strict on due dates because some students just take longer to get formal writing done.
As soon as we get back, I am going to spend the last couple of week before the end of the Fall semester reviewing some of the essential argumentative skills we have been practicing. In this post I want to highlight one of the strategies I have used to help students construct organized argumentative thesis statements/essay responses. And the new APUSH writing rubric give up to two points for quality/complex thesis statements.
The first is the CPR Thesis Statement. In the past I have used the Sheridan Baker Thesis Machine but found that the steps confused most of my students. They understood the concept, but somehow the directions were never quite clear enough. The procedural development of thesis statements made some students uneasy. As I have learned in the process of doing group writing and individual responses in class - writing is messy. Teaching on-demand time writing in my AP United States history class is tough because it is a skill that is rarely practiced in any other context (nor do I think it will be used much in the future - but that's a whole different discussion). Even my own writing getting to the central argument takes time and work piecing the right words together.
So rather than teach the process in steps, I created a chart that focuses on the product. The CPR Thesis, seen below, is very similar to the Thesis Machine. I should thank one of my colleagues, Sara, for developing the idea and sharing it. The chart has made thesis writing more about the parts of argumentation. However, this type of thesis doesn't work well with all prompts so I always tell students that the "counterargument" could look different. The frames are there as examples. When practicing thesis writing in class, my students often use alternate sentence constructions, which is great! These are just a starting point.
Below the CPR Chart is a Google Slides presentation I used to introduce the process to my students. There is a sample we wrote using an article about the effects of the Columbian Exchange.
As a school site, we developed a writing handbook to help students in our History/Social-Science classes. This is definitely one page that students use often.