Writing and Evaluating Conclusions for Document Based Question Essays

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SWBAT analyze and write effective conclusions for document based question essays on secession.

Big Idea

Conclusions: They are more than just a bow on a package.

Reading Time

10 minutes

Each day, I begin my ELA class with Reading Time.  This is a time for students to access a range of texts. I use this time to conference with students, collect data on class patterns and trends with independent reading and to provide individualized support. 

Effective Conclusion Example

5 minutes

Today's lesson focuses on conclusions in document based essays. I isolate the conclusion as students tend to struggle in concluding their arguments when writing in an effective manner.

To begin, I pull up model DBQ on the Smartboard. I give the class a focus for reading the paragraph. I tell them we will be discussing what makes an effective conclusion. They keep this in mind as they read so they know to look for certain qualities. I read the model conclusion out loud to the class as they follow along.

After I read the conclusion, we discuss the paragraph as a whole and what makes it an effective paragraph. I make sure the following is discussed:

  • reference to thesis
  • analysis of main ideas/arguments
  • connection back to introduction

As students are commenting, and as I bring up the above qualities, I highlight them on the Smartboard so students can exactly what those qualities look like in practice. This is crucial for students as they grow as writers. They need to see good models and understand what makes those models effective.

This video explanation breaks down what is done as we review the model conclusion and the aspects I highlight in class discussion.

It is important that students have done work with conclusions before. Since this year is their first time working with document based question essays, they struggle in may different aspects. The conclusion should not be another reason why. They should know the basics of a conclusion so the focus can really be on working with the historical documents and arguing a claim on secession.

Guided Instruction For Conclusions

20 minutes

Once students have reviewed an effective conclusion, the next step is to review the qualities of an effective conclusion and to think about the work they have previously done so they can make decisions about how to improve their own writing as they work on their document based essay on secession.

I pull up the Writing A DBQ Powerpoint and we begin by answering the following questions, which come from slide 11:

  • ›Why is it an effective conclusion?
  • ›How does this conclusion compare to yours?
  • ›What can you include in your next conclusion?

Students answer these questions in their notebooks or using their own technology, whether it be their laptops or iPads. As students are working, I circulate around the room to see if they are able to put into words, areas they need to improve on and ways they can improve those areas as they work on the second DBQ essay. Evaluating their own work is a great strategy for students to use to improve their writing as they grow as writers. They are able to internalize it more. This is one of the most exciting parts about teaching writing. When they can look objectively at their own work and students making decisions about what their struggles are, they can learn how to make goals for improvement as writers.

Following this work, we come back together as a class to review the slide from the Powerpoint that reviews what to include in a conclusion (slide 12). This serves as a way to have common language within the class so when students are working on their conclusions we are referencing aspects of the conclusion in the same way.

Guided Practice For Conclusions

7 minutes

For the duration of class, students will be working on drafting their essays. It is important to devote time to writing in class so students can have guided practice with the skills they need to work on.

I pull up the last slide from the Writing A DBQ Powerpoint on the Smartboard. This gives students instructions on ways to draft their conclusions.

They are able to refer back to the following and use them as resources and models to draft their own conclusions:

  • ›Qualities of an effective conclusion (from the Powerpoint and class discussion)
  • ›DBQ Model Conclusion (from earlier in the lesson)
  • DBQ Rubric
  • ›Your previous conclusion (from the previous DBQ essay the wrote)

This is also a great time to differentiate instruction. Some students are at the point where they can draft their conclusions. Other students still need to work on their thesis statements and their introductions. As students are working, I circulate around the room to meet with each student to make sure they have a plan of what to work on and how to do it. Depending on the class, circulating can be scary or rewarding (or both). Some classes have a ton of hands up and there is a large amount of conversation. That makes our job easier as we know who needs help. Other classes are eerily silent and it's hard to figure out who needs help. When that happens I make sure I stop in with each student to see what they need assistance with. It really comes down to being a good judge of the classroom environment.