Thematic Essay Part 2

US History Regents Thematic Essay Topics and DBQ since 2004 (United States Regents Review Sheet)

Thematic and DBQ Writing Tips

NOTE - THE COMPLETE ESSAYS AND EXAMS CAN BE FOUND AT THE BOARD OF REGENTS WEBSITE. THIS IS MERELY A BRIEF SUMMARY OF WHAT THE ESSAYS WERE ABOUT.

2017

January

THEMATIC - Cultural and Intellectual Life: Effects of the Media - Describe and show positive/negative effects of the media on US society. (muckrakers, Uncle Tom's Cabin, yellow journalism, fireside chats).

DBQ - Presidential proposals and battles with Congress:  Polk and Mexican War, Reconstruction, FDR and Supreme Court decisions.

 

2016

January

THEMATIC - Foreign Policy - Latin America and Caribbean - Analyze the historical circumstances and success/failures of two US foreign policies in the Western Hemisphere. (Panama Canal, Monroe Doctrine, Corollary, NAFTA)

DBQ - Conflicts between the three branches of government: Jackson vs. Marshall, Nixon's Watergate, Wilson's Treaty of Versailles)

June

THEMATIC - Reform Movements - Describe reform movements from 1820-1933 and evaluate their success. (Women's suffrage, prohibition, consumer protection, labor)

DBQ - Causes and effects of the Spanish-American War, Korean War, and Persian Gulf War.

August

THEMATIC - Economic Policy - Causes and degree of success concerning economic policy. (Sherman Anti-Trust Act, New Deal legislation such as Social Security, NAFTA)

DBQ - Causes and effects of migrations within the US: Westward migration, Great Migration (African Americans in 20th Century), Sun Belt.

 

 

2015

January

THEMATIC - Legislation. Choose two laws, explain them, and show their impact on the United States and/or American society. (Missouri Compromise, Homestead Act, Pure Food and Drug Act, Title IX)

DBQ - Controversial Presidential decisions: FDR and Japanese Internment, Lincoln and suspending habeas corpus, and George W. Bush's Patriot Act. 

June

THEMATIC - Organizations - Explain the circumstances surrounding the formation of two organizations, and discuss the degree to which their reform efforts were successful. (Populists, WCTU, AFL, NAWSA)

DBQ - Presidential Actions and their influence on society: Andrew Jackson's Indian Removal Policy, Civil rights of LBJ, and  TR's consumer protection)

August

THEMATIC - Foreign Policy - Select two foreign policy decisions which were controversial. Explain why they were both opposed and supported. Discuss their impacts on the US and/or a foreign country. (Invasion of Iraq, Korea, Vietnam, Annexation of the Philippines)

DBQ - Challenges facing African Americans, industrial workers, and persons with disabilities.  

Thematic and DBQ Writing Tips

 

2014

January

THEMATIC - Geography - Territorial Expansion. Explain how the US acquired 2 territories, and if they had a positive or negative impact. (Louisiana Territory doubles the size of the nation,  Alaska provides vast oil reserves, California becomes a free state in the controversial Compromise of 1850.)

DBQ - The similarities and differences between Woodrow Wilson and Franklin D. Roosevelt.

 

June

THEMATIC - Change - Supreme Court Decisions. Choose two decisions, explain them, and show how they impacted the United States and/or American society.

DBQ - Influence of writers: Martin Luther King, Jr., Rachel Carson, and Betty Friedan. 

 

August

THEMATIC - Technology - Choose two inventions and show how they changed society. Illustrate why it was either a positive or negative change. (Cotton gin, automobile, nuclear energy, television)

DBQ - The impact of the Korean War, Vietnam War, and Persian Gulf War on the United States and/or another region.

Thematic and DBQ Writing Tips 

 

 

 

2013

January

THEMATIC - Government - Legislation. Choose 2 laws, explain their historical circumstances, and if they had a positive or negative impact. (Pure Food and Drug Act protects consumers, Social Security Act provides money for the elderly in the Great Depression, Indian Removal Act forces Native Americans to move west of the Mississippi River).  

DBQ - Major events of the 1950s and their impacts on society. (Korean War, Montgomery Bus Boycott, and launching of Sputnik).

June

THEMATIC - Foreign Policy - National Interests. Choose 2 examples of foreign policy that affected US interests, and show if they were successful or not. (Open Door Policy, Korean War, Vietnam War, Persian Gulf War, Panama Canal).

DBQ - Impact of Supreme Court Decisions on the United States. (Dred Scott Case takes away rights of slaves, Plessy v. Ferguson supports "separate but equal," Brown v. Board of Education gets rid of segregation in schools).

August 

THEMATIC - Foreign Policy - Cold War. Choose 2 examples of containment, and explain if those actions were successful in stopping the spread of communism. (Truman Doctrine, Korean War, Vietnam War, "Star Wars", Berlin Airlift).

DBQ - Issues that divided the nation (Ratification of the Constitution, Louisiana Purchase, extension of slavery).

 

Thematic and DBQ Writing Tips

 

2012

August

THEMATIC - Reform movements: Industrialization. Choose two problems resulting from industrialization. Show how the government tried to fix each problem, and to what extent they were successful. (Overpopulation, pollution, nativism, unsafe food, trusts, exploitation of workers).

DBQ - Controversial Acts. Choose two of the following, and show both why the government supported the act, and why people opposed it: Executive Order 9066 (1942), Patriot Act (2001), and Espionage and Sedition Acts (1917-1918)

June

THEMATIC - Foreign policy; Presidential Decisions. Choose two decisions, and show their impacts on BOTH the US and on a foreign country. (Truman's decision to use the atomic bomb, JFK quarantining Cuba, GW Bush's decision to invade Iraq).

DBQ - Movements in American History. Choose 2 of the following: Labor Movement, Women's Suffrage, or Abolition.

January

THEMATIC - Impact of Supreme Court cases. Choose two cases, and show their impact on American society. Use any two court cases you like!

DBQ - Sectionalism and differences between the North and South before the Civil War.

 

Thematic and DBQ Writing Tips

 

2011

August

THEMATIC - Geographical features influencing history. Choose 2 events related to geography and explain the impacts of the event. (Erie Canal construction, Panama Canal, Transcontinental Railroad)

DBQ - Expansion of Democracy in America - Suffrage, Progressivism, etc)

June

THEMATIC - Amendments. Choose 2 Amendments and show how they impacted America (13th = Abolition, 17th = Direct Election of Senators, 19th = Women's Suffrage)

DBQ - Explain the differences and/or similarities of society in the 1920s and 1930s.

January

THEMATIC - Diversity and Court Cases. Choose 2 court cases that either limited or expanded the rights of specific groups. (Korematsu limited rights for the Japanese, Brown expanded Black rights, whereas Plessy limited them).

DBQ - Cold War ... analyze the events of Presidents JFK, Nixon, and Reagan

Thematic and DBQ Writing Tips

 

 

 

 

2010 

January

THEMATIC - Writing and Reform. Choose 2 writers, and show how they caused the government to act. (Upton Sinclair and meatpacking / FDA, Thomas Paine and the Revolution, Harriet Beecher Stowe and abolition)

DBQ - Explain how water affected the development of the US (Rivers, canals, etc)

June

THEMATIC - Positive and negative affects of technology. Choose 2 ... Car, internet, television, radio)

DBQ - Reform Movements - Women's Suffrage, Temperance, Child Labor. What was the problem? To what extent was the problem solved?

August

THEMATIC- Choose 2 Presidential decisions in American history, and show the impacts. (Lincoln and emancipation, Truman and the atomic bomb, Washington and Neutrality.)

DBQ - Negative and positive effects of geography on American History.

Thematic and DBQ Writing Tips

 

2009

January

THEMATIC - Pieces of writing that influenced society. Choose 2 (Thomas Paine's Common Sense, Upton Sinclair's The Jungle, Harriet Beecher Stowe's Uncle Tom's Cabin.)

DBQ - The decisions of the Warren Court (Supreme Court of the 50s and 60s)

June

THEMATIC - Discrimination of rights. Explain policies that helped, or hurt specific groups. Choose 2. (Native Americans and Indian Removal, Korematsu case for the Japanese, slavery for African Americans)

DBQ - Impact of industry on American society from the Civil War to WWI

August 

THEMATIC - Supreme Court Cases. Choose 2, explain the historical circumstances, decision, and impact. (Brown, Korematsu, Miranda, Tinker, Schenck, Gideon, Mapp, etc)

DBQ - Challenges facing Presidents Washington, Lincoln, and Franklin Delano Roosevelt.

Thematic and DBQ Writing Tips

 

2008

January

THEMATIC - Groups affected by War. Choose 2 (African Americans after the Civil War, Indian Wars, women in WWI and WWII, Japanese in WWII)

DBQ - Reformers of the 19th and 20th Centuries. Abolition, Populism, Progressive Era)

June

THEMATIC - Change by individuals other than Presidents. Choose two, and show how their actions led to government actions. (Muckrakers, Carnegie and industrialization, Martin Luther King Jr., and civil rights, Henry Ford and the automobile)

DBQ - Presidential actions during crisis. Civil War, Bonus March, and Little Rock 9.

August

THEMATIC - Economic Policy. Describe two actions taken by the government to help the economy. (FDR's New Deal, Tariffs, Social Security, Reagan's tax cuts)

DBQ - Political and Economic impacts of the automobile.

Thematic and DBQ Writing Tips

 

 

2007

January

THEMATIC - Geography - Discuss 2 actions taken by the US Government because of Geography. (Monroe Doctrine, Lewis and Clark, Homestead Act, Panama Canal)

DBQ - The Vietnam War and it's impact home and abroad.

 

 

 

June

THEMATIC - Industrialization: Choose two problems that resulted from industrial growth in America. (Immigration, Technology, Monopolies, Urbanization, Reform Movements.)

DBQ -  Similarities and differences between the women's rights and civil rights movements.

August

THEMATIC - Choose 2 individuals who had an impact solving problems in America. (Martin Luther King Jr., Jackie Robinson, Henry Ford Betty Friedan)

DBQ - Government policy and technology influencing growth in the US economy.

 

Thematic and DBQ Writing Tips

 

2006

January

THEMATIC - Controversial Issues. Choose 2 controversial issues that divided the country and explain how the government addressed each issue. (Prohibition, Civil Rights, Segregation, Immigration, Native American Removal)

DBQ - Geography's influence on American expansion.

June

THEMATIC - Turning Points. Choose 2 economic, political, and/or social turning points that led to landmark changes. (Automobile, Brown v. Board of Education, Declaration of Independence, or really, anything important.)

DBQ - Mass Media's impact on American society.

August

THEMATIC - Migrations of People. Choose 2 groups, and explain why they moved, and the impact of the migration. (The Great Migration, Native American Removal)

DBQ - The Cold War's affect on the nation.

Thematic and DBQ Writing Tips

 

 

2005

January

THEMATIC - Foreign Policy. Choose 2 American foreign policy actions, the immediate or long term consequences, and if self-interest was promoted. (Big Stick Diplomacy, Marshall Plan, Lend-Lease Act, Fourteen Points)

DBQ - Goals of the Progressive Reformers.

 

 

 

June

THEMATIC - Reform Movements. Choose 2 Reform movements, their goals, and if their goals were achieved. (Abolition, Prohibition, Women's Suffrage, Progressive Era)

DBQ - Foreign Policy: Isolation vs. War before WWII.

August

THEMATIC - Cold War. Explain 2 Cold War conflicts and how the government operated during them. (Cuban Missile Crisis, nuclear weapon limits of SALT, Berlin Airlift)

DBQ - Problems in America during the Great Depression.

Thematic and DBQ Writing Tips

 

2004

January

THEMATIC - Amendments. Choose 2, and explain why they were adapted, and how they affected American society. (any amendment will do)

DBQ - Expanding education to all Americans.

June

THEMATIC - Actions taken by the US because of geographic factors. Choose 2. Explain the action, influences, and impact of each action. (Panama Canal, Monroe Doctrine, Louisiana Purchase)

DBQ - Civil War and Reconstruction -- explain social, economic, and political changes that took place.

August

THEMATIC - Reform Movements. Choose 2, and explain the circumstances and impact. (Progressive Era, Abolition, Prohibition, Women's Suffrage)

DBQ - Westward Expansion during the 1800s.

Thematic and DBQ Writing Tips

 

Step 3  Write the Introductory Paragraph

  • The introductory paragraph needs to include a THESIS STATEMENT or focus statement
  • HINT:  Students may restate the thematic background statement, but should attempt to do so in their own words
  • The paragraph should be a minimum of 5 sentences
  • Include general examples and relevant outside information
  • HINT:  define the theme in the intro
  • CAUTION:  do NOT go into any detail for your examples...save this for the body paragraphs

Example of an introductory paragraph -  Writing

      History has shown that human activity has often changed the land people live on.  Quite often, the changes to the physical geography has had both positive and negative impact on society.  From ancient times to the modern day, geography and society have worked together to meet the needs and want of humanity.  Geography may include landforms, waterways, natural resources or climate.  Examples of humanity's altering of their geography include ancient Egypt and their intricate irrigation systems, the Japanese use of terrace farming, Peter the Great's construction of his "window to the west", St. Petersburg and the construction of the Panama and Suez Canals.  Two examples worth examining further include Great Britain's use of natural resources during the industrial revolution and a second example includes the deforestation process surrounding the Amazon basin in Brazil.  Human progress will often alter the environment at a cost.

     

Step 4  Write the Essay Body Paragraphs

  • Include a minimum of 2 fact filled body paragraphs
  • Begin the paragraph with a TOPIC SENTENCE;  that is a sentence that simple states what the paragraph is about
  • Use the Essay Question "Task" as your guide of what to include within the paragraph
  • Depending on the essay question, body paragraphs will often discuss the following categories
    • positive and negative effects
    • similarities and differences 
    • causes and effects
    • political, economic or social traits

Step 5  Write a Essay Conclusion

  • Restate the Theme of the essay
  • Include a sentence for each body paragraph that references the theme and content
  • Conclusion should be a minimum of 3 sentences

 

June 2002 Model Essay:  Geography and Society

HINT:  More model essays can be found within the "Past Regents Exams" link.  Just go to the answer keys.

 

 

Step by Step Guide for Writing a 

Global History Document Based Essay

Approach the DBQ a similar way that you approach the Thematic Essay.  The DBQ adds the step of analyzing historical documents, therefore we will have access to lots of specific historical details. 

Step 1   Pre-writing Planning - Think it Through!

  • Read the task or question
  • Read the task again
  • Begin thinking on how to turn the essay "Task" into your essay focus statement (thesis)
  • HINT:  Students may restate the thematic background statement, but should attempt to do so in their own words
  • Using a highlighter can help identify key words and phrases
  • Make sure you fully understand what the DBQ Essay is looking for

Example from the June 2003 Exam...

 

Step 2  Make a Written Plan

  • Make an outline, block, list or a graphic organizer like a web to BRAINSTORM
  • This is a critical part of tackling the essay.  Many students make the MISTAKE of skipping this step!
  • Commit 5 or 10 minutes for this step.  It is time well spent.
  • Look for "buckets" or "categories" to help organize your essay.
  • You will be awarded points for the ACCURATE details you provide.
  • Common mistakes include the use of incorrect information  or use of inaccurate examples that don't support the theme.
  • GET WHAT YOU ALREADY KNOW DOWN ON PAPER FIRST
  • Include OUTSIDE information here to illustrate the theme further.

Example of Scrap Paper - Planning

NOTE:  Outside info is listed first...then the details from the documents second 

Change / Turning Points

Neolithic Revolution

OUTSIDE INFO

- dawn of civilization

- no more wandering, hunting and gathering

-leads to settlements, need for laws, institutions

-farming...

MOSTLY POSITIVE +

...more secure source of food, steady growth, 

 

 

 

 

 

DOCUMENT HELP...

DOC 1, timeline

domesticatio of animals, food source

DOC 2, dialogue...food source

DOC 3  ???NOT SURE???

 

Age of Exploration

OUTSIDE INFO

-from stagnant feudalistic settlements to massive amounts of cultural diffusion

-cultures come together...interdependence

-independent societies living separated...no contact

POSITIVE AND NEGATIVE

POSITIVE contact allows more trade, $$$$, goods and ideas exchanged

NEGATIVE

disease, foreign domination, brutality, no respect for other cultures, slavery...

 

DOCUMENT HELP...

DOC 4, MAP of trade routes

DOC 5,  population shifts...CULTURAL DIFFUSION

DOC 6  --SLAVERY population...

Collapse of Communism/USSR

OUTSIDE INFO

1990's, end of the Cold War

-gorbachev...perestroika...glastnost

-US vs. Ussr conflict ends

-capitalism and democracy have a greater influence

POSITIVE

democracy, freedom, Berlin Wall comes down, unity

less Nuclear war threat..?..

 

 

 

 

 

DOCUMENT HELP...

DOC 7 gorby's policies explained

DOC , 8  NOT SURE HERE?? policy

DOC 9  cartoons...shortages and multi ethnic breakup..nationalism  end of one problem seems to start another...

 

Step 3  Document Analysis - Scaffolding

  • Carefully read the questions attached to each document a couple of times
  • Then carefully read the document a couple of times
  • Take notes in the MARGINS as you go.  These could highlight things like
  • positives and negatives
  • similarities / differences
  • political, social economic traits
  • causes / effects
  • Highlighting the document will help identify key words, phrases, themes and details
  • Develop your answer using your highlighted text, margin notes and document analysis
  • Complete sentences are best to get your point across.
  • REMEMBER... the scaffolding points are weighted as much as the DBQ essay
  • Go to your scrap paper and jot notes from each document that can support your essay

Step 4  Write the Introductory Paragraph

  • The introductory paragraph needs to include a THESIS STATEMENT or focus statement
  • HINT:  Students may restate the thematic background statement, but should attempt to do so in their own words
  • The paragraph should be a minimum of 5 sentences
  • Include general examples and relevant outside information
  • HINT:  define the theme in the intro
  • CAUTION:  do NOT go into any detail for your examples...save this for the body paragraphs

 

Step 5  Write the Essay Body Paragraphs

  • Include a minimum of 2 fact filled body paragraphs
  • Begin the paragraph with a TOPIC SENTENCE;  that is a sentence that simple states what the paragraph is about
  • Use the Essay Question "Task" as your guide of what to include within the paragraph
  • Depending on the essay question, body paragraphs will often discuss the following categories or "buckets"
    • positive and negative effects
    • similarities and differences 
    • causes and effects
    • political, economic or social traits
  • Use parenthetical citation after a sentence to reference the documents  ie.  (doc. #4)
  • Use a majority of the documents within the essay
  • Constantly reference the Essay Task to make sure you are keeping the essay focused
  • Weave the outside information along with the document details.  YOU NEED BOTH!

 

Step 6  Write a Essay Conclusion

  • Restate the Theme of the essay
  • Include a sentence for each body paragraph that references the theme and content
  • Conclusion should be a minimum of 3 sentences

SPECIAL NOTES....

  • Proof-read your essay.
  • Avoid listing summaries of the documents.  This would sound like  "In document 1, it says...   In document 2 its says...Finally, in document 4 it says..."
  • Avoid using 1st person pronouns.  This would sound like... "In this essay I will clearly show you that..."
  • Avoid using abbreviated terms especially those often used on Instant Messenger.  This would sound like..."...+ Slavery was bad b/c, ya know...the gov't..."

 

 

Document Based Question Checklist / Feedback 

Use the questions below to complete a review of an DBQ essay process..

1.  How many times are the documents cited?

2.  List the documents numbers used in the essay.

3.  Identify a topic sentence from one of the body paragraphs by writing it below.

4.  Is it too general or too specific? And why?

5.  List 2 examples of outside information used within the document.

6.  Identify the thesis by writing it below.

7.  Identify the categories or "buckets" used to answer the essay question.

8.  Identify an example of paraphrasing by writing an example below.

9.  List 3 details used within one of the body paragraphs.

10. List 3 adjectives, which describes the essay.

11. List 3 specific ways to improve the essay.

12. Yes or No Are there margin notes found within the documents?

13. % of block / planning completed?

Rubric Score_________ Scored by _____________________

 

 

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