Social Science Essay Directions/Rubric
Note: Essays MUST follow the proper social science format as articulated below:
Step 1: Write a single THESIS PARAGRAPH: (30 Points)
*All of these parts must be included in a single thesis or introductory paragraph:
A. (3 points) SET THE CONTEXT by explaining the political, economic and social history
surrounding the topic/issue question. Be sure to use historically accurate specific examples
and restate in your own words the specific topic/issue question (don’t parrot) (3-5 complete
Does my paragraph begin with detailed historically accurate context associated with
the topic question?
B. (2 points) COMPLEXITY: Show understanding of OTHER POINTS OF VIEW to the
issue AND include EXAMPLES (use specific Taking Sides authors whenever possible). (2-4
Does my paragraph provide complexity which articulates opposing viewpoints such
as both Taking Sides author's POV separately?
C. (10 points) THESIS STATEMENT SENTENCE: Clearly state your own opinion about the
topic/issue question by take declarative position, backed up with a well-reasoned
“BECAUSE” three part rationale. (Your thesis should always be a complex sentence.)
(AGREE BECAUSE WHY or DISAGREE BECAUSE WHY). Must be a single complete
sentence only and your thesis sentence MUST be underlined! Do not use first person or use
qualifier or transitional words or phrases to begin your thesis (I believe. . ; Although . . ; On
the other hand . . , ECT.) The thesis statement is the most important part of the essay as it is
what you are going to prove and it must be able to be lifted out of the essay and stand on its
own as a declarative statement. Never use or refer to secondary sources or quote in your
thesis as it should be all you.
Does the paragraph contain an underlined Opinion- Because-3 Part Rational that does
not contain 1st person references; states the author's own opinion; contains a complex
rational that can easily be expanded into three sub topics?
D. (15 points) THREE SUBTOPICS: Sometimes called the essay map. After your underlined
thesis statement write “There are three main reasons that support this position.” Then,
using structural indicators (first, second, finally) provide THREE single sentence subtopics
that are each direct extensions of a portion of the thesis three part thesis rational. Each single
sentences subtopic, derived from a portion of the thesis rational MUST demonstrate how or
why the subtopic proves a portion of the three part thesis rational.
“First” Subtopic 1: An ANALYSIS and/or EVALUATION topic that PROVES a major
part of your main thesis rational (remember to show or say HOW/WHY).
“Second” Subtopic 2: An ANALYSIS and/or EVALUATION topic that PROVES a
major part of your main thesis rational (remember to show or say HOWWHY).
“Finally” Subtopic 3: An ANALYSIS and/or EVALUATION topic that PROVES a
major part of your main thesis (remember to show or say HOW/WHY).
Each subtopic is worth up to 5 points.
Do not use first person, quote or use secondary sources. Subtopics are all you.
Each subtopic will then be used as a topic sentence for the three body paragraphs.
Taking Sides Thesis Paragraph Examples
TS Question: "Was the Pequot War Largely a Product of Native American Aggression?"
In the 17th century the Pequot Indians held a conflict filled relationship with the settlers
of the Massachusetts Bay colony. Between the colonist and the Pequot Indians there were many
disputes over the different lifestyles of each party. I believe Native peoples aggression was not a
product of The Pequot War, the natives decided to act on their own will and were aggressive to
us before any attacks on them were announced or decided upon and the concept of war was
foreign to them but not to us. Prior to the “war” when “colonist” in “the bay” settled the Pequot
tribe was its own microcosm. They, the Peqouts, decided that they would destroy the settlers
land. The set fire to people, crops and farms. They even kidnapped women while the siege on
that Fort began. The English men then decided to take actions. Hundreds of natives were under
attack and fighting back. Some were takneas prisoners and many others died. The natives gave a
reason to the Englishmen and from their the issued the attack.
Beginning from the first contact between Europeans and Native Americans, Indo-Anglo
relations were always marred by their cultural differences, with relations wavering from cordial
to ones filled with tensions and violence. One such instance took setting in New England, where
a series of murders and assaults exchanged between the colonists and Pequot tribe eventually
culminated into a battle that ended with a deaths of many Pequots. However, who holds
responsibility for the outbreak of the Pequot war is continued to be debated between historians.
Author Steve T. Katz challenges the view of those who believe colonists intentionally started the
war as a deliberate genocide, arguing that colonists had justification to be afraid of the Pequots
and were simply acting out of self-preservation rather than with intent to start a war. Professor
Alfred A. Cave asserts that the racial characterization of the natives as savages was the catalyst
for the war as motivation within the decision to eradicate the threat to create a safe frontier for
Puritans. Native Americans were the main cause of the Pequot war because of brutality
perpetrated by the natives, Pequot Indians continued to exist past the war and that the war was
premeditated by the colonists. There are three main reasons that support this position. Firstly, the
outbreak of war was not solely a matter of cultural prejudice but had arisen due to a feeling of
necessity brought on by the brutality previously perpetrated by the Pequot and the failure to
solve diplomatically. Secondly, the idea of complete genocide is challenged as Pequot Indians
continued to exist past the war though they were scattered among different tribes. Finally, there
is no real indication that the purpose of the attack on the Pequot fort was to massacre all the
natives as credible accounts and actions do not align up with the idea that the battle was
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