The culminating task for these investigations is the argument students write to respond to the sources and central question. Interpretation tasks call for students to write e-mails to the Louvre curators, National Geographic mapmakers, Field Museum curators, and PBS News reporters. In their e-mails, students write arguments for an interpretation of a historical or social issue that is a part of our lives today. In completing these assignments, students delve into issues of representation, perspective, and context as they work with sources, construct evidence-based responses to the central question, and communicate their arguments to a contemporary audience.

The interpretation tasks are the foundation for social studies argument writing centered on claims, evidence, and reasoning. Across the Interpretation tasks, students write complex claims, integrate relevant and substantive evidence, and explain their reasoning about how the evidence supports the claim and why that evidence is reliable given the argument. The Hammurabi investigation introduces students to the work of Interpretation, requiring simpler claims and work with only one (albeit long) source. After that, the investigations and corresponding tasks become increasingly more complex. For each investigation, we provide rubrics to assess students' performance. The rubrics identify four levels of development (Beginning, Developing, Proficient, and Advanced) for each component of the argument (Claim, Evidence, Reasoning).

In this section of the site, we provide examples of student writing at different levels of performance in establishing claims, evidence, and reasoning for each Interpretation investigation. We annotate student writing to highlight their disciplinary thinking and work. Essays use pseudonyms and identify students as English learners or bilingual writers where applicable (English learner status means the student has been designated as such through the district's assessment process. Bilingual writer means the student reports speaking a language other than English at home.). For each essay, a rubric highlights the level of assessed performance on each aspect of a student's argument.

View Student Writing and Rubrics

  1. What was important to King Hammurabi?
  2. Which countries should be included in the Middle East?
  3. How did the Inca maintain control over such a large empire?
  4. Why is access to water unequal in and around Mexico City?
Assessing Student Writing 2