Global History Thematic Essay Review Sample

What is a Thematic Essay?


Beginning in June 2000, the Global History and Geography Regents Examination will require students to respond to a thematic essay question. Likewise, the U.S. History and Government Regents Exam will follow suit in June 2001. While similar to a traditional essay in many respects, the thematic essay also has several unique characteristics. Quite simply, a thematic essay:

· Identifies a specific theme from social studies
· Presents a general statement regarding that theme
·States a specific task which must be addressed in an essay response
·Is graded using a rubric which is not made available to students during the test in the exam booklet.

To see an example of a generic scoring rubric for a Thematic Essay Click Here  use Revised for 2004 example

How do I write a thematic essay?
Thematic essays responses are organized into three sections: the introduction, body, and conclusion. Below is a visual representation of this division:
Step 1: Analyze the question.
What specifically is the task in the thematic essay question asking you to do? Look in the "Task" section of the question for key words such as:

Discussmeans "to make observations about something using facts, reasoning, and argument; to present in some detail."

Describe means "to illustrate something in words or tell about it."

Show means "to point out; to set forth clearly a position or idea by stating it and giving data to support it."

Explain means "to make plain or understandable; to give reasons for or causes of; to show the logical development or relationships of" (Global Studies Regents, June, 1997).

Step 2: Organize the essay.
Organize the information that you want to use in your essay through the use of an outline.

Step 3: Write the introduction.
Compose a thesis statement in which you explain what the essay is about, or what you are trying to prove. Maintain a third person perspective and refrain from using statements such as "this essay will be about..." In the following sentences, introduce the topics of each of the body paragraphs which will follow.

Step 4: Write the body paragraphs.
Write the first body paragraph. Be sure to include all of the following components: topic sentence, supporting evidence in the body sentences, and a closing sentence. Follow this same format as you write the second and third body paragraphs. Compose additional paragraphs if necessary in order to completely answer the essay question.

Step 5: Write the conclusion.
Summarize the subject of the essay. You can often do this by restating the question in a different way. Explain what you concluded about the essay question. Summarize how the information in the body of your essay proves your point.

What is a DBQ Question?

Beginning in June 2000, the Global History and Geography Regents Examination will require students to respond to a DBQ question. Likewise, the U.S. History and Government Regents Exam will follow suit in June 2001. While similar to a traditional essayin many respects, the DBQ question also has several unique characteristics. Quite simply, a DBQ question:

· Requires that students analyze a series of documents from Part Aof the DBQ question and answer a specific short answer question about each document.
·Presents a specific task in Part Bwhich must be addressed in an essay response using information obtained from the documents presented in Part Aand the student"s knowledge of social studies.
· Is graded using a rubricwhich is not made available to students during the test in the exam booklet.

To see an example of a generic scoring rubric for a DBQ Click Here  use Revised for 2004 example

How do I answer a DBQ question?
DBQ questions are composed of two sections. In Part A, documents are provided for students to read, analyze, and then answer questions about each one. In Part B, students are provided with a specific task which must be addressed in an essay response. The essay response can be organized into three sections: the introduction, body, and conclusion. Below is a visual representation of this division:


Step 1: Answer each question in Part A. 
Carefully read or view each document in Part Aof the DBQ question, and answer the question that follows each document. Use factual information and base your answer to each question on the specific document to which it is related, and be sure to compose each answer using complete sentences.

Step 2: Compose a thesis statement.
Read the tasksection in Part Bof the DBQ essay question and analyze it in order to figure out what it is asking you to do. Key words used in the taskmay include:

Discussmeans "to make observations about something using facts, reasoning, and argument; to present in some detail."

Describe means "to illustrate something in words or tell about it."

Show means "to point out; to set forth clearly a position or idea by stating it and giving data to support it."

Explain means "to make plain or understandable; to give reasons for or causes of; to show the logical development or relationships of" (Global Studies Regents, June, 1997).

Once you understand what the task is asking you to write about, compose a thesis statementthat addresses these issues. For example, the sample DBQ below contains a taskthat could be reworded to form a thesis statement such as:

"Many societies have held different viewpoints regarding the process of governmental decision-making and about the role of citizens in the political decision-making process. Therefore, several types of political systems have evolved over time, from those that are controlled absolutely as well as some that follow a democratic tradition. Regardless of the type of government, there are obvious advantages and disadvantages involved in both types of political systems."

Step 3: Organize the essay.
Organize the information that you want to use in your essay through the use of an outline. During this pre-writing step, you should brainstorm as many facts as possible that could be used in your essay. Also make sure that you are addressing the taskas well as the requirements from the rubric.

Step 4: Write the introduction.
A.Revisit the historical context and determine if you can use part or all 
    of this statement in your introduction.
B. Insert your thesis statementfrom step three.
C. If your thesis does not address the body paragraphs that will follow, 
    compose a sentence that briefly introduces each topic.

Step 5: Write the body paragraphs.
Write the first body paragraph. Be sure to include all of the following components: topic sentence, supporting evidence in the body sentences, and a closing sentence. Follow this same format as you write the additional body paragraphs. Compose additional paragraphs if necessary in order to completely answer the essay question.

Be sure to use most of the documents provided in Part Ain order to provide evidence which proves your thesis statement, and to meet the criteria in the rubricto earn a full credit for your essay.

Step 6: Write the conclusion.
Summarize the subject of the essay. You can often do this by restating the question in a different way. Explain what you concluded about the essay question. Summarize how the information in the body of your essay proves your point.

You may want to include citations within your essay as you use the documents to support your thesis. This will help you keep track of the number of documents you use and it will let the person grading your essay see that you have fulfilled the requirements of a DBQ.

There are differerent ways in which to accomplish this:

“In document 1, the author states that …

“In 1917 Athur James Balfour wrote the Balfour Declaration, showing the British support for the establishment of a Jewish Homeland in Palestine” (document 1)

 

  Writing a thematic essay is a required component of every Global History and Geography Regents examination.  While some students may feel overwhelmed at the prospect of writing a thematic essay, all students can learn to master the fine art of thematic essay writing. 

 

  It is important to remember that a thematic essay is an essay based on a particular theme from the Global History and Geography curriculum.  After the stated theme, students are given a task which they must complete in essay format regarding the theme.  Finally, students are provided a list of potential topics to write about regarding the theme. 

 

  Unlike a Document Based Essay Question, a thematic essay does not provide actual documents to answer the essay question.  Instead, students must possess a prior knowledge base to answer the essay thoroughly.  However, given the multiplicity of suggestions, students will invariably find several suggested topics that they can use to effectively write the essay.  Thematic essay writing is possible if students remember several important guidelines for successful writing.  On this page, students will find guidelines as well as outlines of previous Regents thematic essays.

First, the Guidelines!

1.     Read the theme carefully.  The theme is the essay’s big idea.  It is critical that students understand the theme and begin to think about the various ways the theme has occurred throughout history.

2.     Read the task box carefully.  The task box provides the essay’s directions.  It is critical that students understand exactly what they are expected to write about in the essay.  Answering the questions in the task box thoroughly and accurately is more important than merely defending the theme.  The essay is graded based on the writer’s ability to address every task in the task box.

 

3.     Make an outline before you proceed.  The task box will provide the categories necessary for an effective outline.  Students must list the tasks that need to be addressed.  Frequently, tasks have more than one component.  For example, if two individuals are to be included in the essay, make certain that your outline has spaces for each individual.  On this page, you will find many samples of outlines for thematic essays.  Continue scrolling down the page and open the provided links to view effective outlining techniques.

 

4.     Write the essay’s first draft.  Yes, write a first draft of your essay using your outline.  An essay must include an introductory paragraph stating the theme and its importance in world history, several body paragraphs that specifically address the essay’s tasks, and a concluding paragraph summarizing the essay’s main ideas.  Your first draft will include all of the essay’s vital information but may need minor revisions to ensure the highest quality of writing.  Hopefully, if time permits, you can edit it for excellence.

 

5.     Write your final draft.  If time permits, write your final draft.  Edit your writing for greater clarity and grammatical sophistication.  Don’t be satisfied with merely answering the questions.  Strive for excellence in written communication.

 

6.     Lastly, remember that you can write an effective thematic essay.  If you follow the guidelines for successful writing and study your Key Word packets (See the Key Words, Key Connections Page on this site), a brilliantly written thematic essay is possible.

 

Links to Outlines!

  The following links provide outlines to previously assigned thematic essays.  Read the themes and task boxes carefully before examining the outlines.  The outlines are clear reflections of the themes and tasks.

 

Advice on How to Organize an Essay and Write a Strong Body Paragraph 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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