Writing in history and the social sciences is different than writing in your language arts class. While there is creativity in historical writing, the more apt analogy is that of a legal brief. You are the attorney and your teacher (or class) is the jury. The stronger the evidence you present, the more convincing your argument will be.
Today’s Common Core standards for the social sciences are oriented primarily toward writing and research skills. While state content standards remain, the ability to think critically and process information is paramount.
This makes utilization of resources particularly important in achieving success in the social sciences. Most of the assignments I gave as a teacher involved this reliance on thorough research. Socratic seminars, essays on document-based questions, targeted notes, and test writing prompts all provide opportunities to demonstrate your skill in employing effective research.
When I hosted Socratic seminars in my history and economics classes, I had my students pair off and come up with a position on the assigned prompt. They used the excellent Opposing Viewpoints in Context database by Gale, which my last school district had purchased for our library. It included a myriad of historical and contemporary topics with the latest articles and essays uploaded on a regular basis.
There are many outstanding online databases which can help you in your research. My personal favorite is loc.gov, the database of the Library of Congress. Another is archives.gov of the National Archives. Find out what resources your school and your local library have to offer. And remember to cite your sources correctly when you submit your work.
In my day, research was done with books and magazines and work was submitted in typewritten form. Corrections were made by hand and new drafts had to be retyped. The advent of online classrooms and research has changed all that and expanded the possibilities for improvement and opportunities for learning.
Take advantage of the resources at your fingertips. You can never have too many sources for your work. And remember, your voice is unique. Believe in that voice.
Copyright (c) 2018 Torin Finney. All rights reserved.
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