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Day 116: Daily Thesis
By Mark Heintz
Feb 24, 2020

Day 116

Student contribution provided by Srushti and Cathy

Today in class, we read documents from the DBQ about WW1. Then we worked with our table partner to create a thesis. We wrote it so that we could write a full DBQ tomorrow. Class is going well. Our focus right now is on WW1 and we have been working on writing as well as analyzing documents. As of right now, we’re writing about the causes of WW1.

We struggled with wording because it was difficult to summarize the main points from all the documents. We excelled at collaboration because we bounced ideas off each other well.

 

Writing is hard. Especially when it is about something you don’t fully understand. Srushti and Cathy are right when they say it’s hard to get the wording just right. It’s difficult to summarize seven documents recently read into a fully formed argument that has taken some history thousands of pages to answer. Their reflection is one of the reasons the students write so much in my class. Writing becomes habitual. It’s a daily task that helps the students work their understanding of the past.

The thesis above is a start. It has all of the components it needs for AP; however, it isn’t as clear as it could be. The way it is written, it could be condensed into one sentence: During the 1900s in Europe, the critical causes of WWI were not only as a result of the tension built by nationalism and strong alliances willingness to fight but also the belief in strong militarism to aggressively defend the country. 

Another could be: During the 1900s in Europe, the critical causes of WWI resulted from the tension built by nationalism, strong alliances, and militarism.

As I said, it’s a start.

We have practiced writing all year. When the students start writing on their own, they typically resort back to familiar habits. The time rush and the inability to go back and edit their work makes the writing confusing on a first read-through.

Learning

It’s too easy to live in your head. For this class, the students could easily be passive sheep and wait for me to give them the “right” answer. Instead, they make their thinking visible. Not the easiest thing to do at age fifteen and sixteen — or for any age for that matter.

Their reflection is why I stop and listen to the students. I need to remember what they say.

In the end, I want them to feel their opinions matter. That they can have arugments that I don’t agree with as long as they are willing to work through them. If anything, the DBQ is that skill. Something that will continually work on.

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