Need some help with the AP Spanish Argumentative Essay? In my humble opinion, it is the most complicated task our AP Spanish students will have to complete. El ensayo argumentativo requires excellent reading skills, listening skills and writing skills. So how can we help our students do well on this part of the AP Spanish exam? Here are some tips!
Tip #1 Direct Instruction
Students need to understand what exactly they need to do for the AP Spanish Argumentative Essay. Consider taking the class time to have a mini lesson that provides the specifics and details of the expectations. Here is a short list of what students should know.
-2 readings; one in narrative form and usually on graph or chart
-1 listening source
-each source must be referenced at least once in their essay
-writing needs to be organized and concise
-only 1 hour to read, listen and write!
I created this Google Slides presentation for the direct instruction I provide to my students. Feel free to create one too, or use mine to save time!
AP Spanish Argumentative Essay Tip #2
Don’t assume that your students have good writing skills. *Yes, they need to understand what they read and hear. Let’s assume that they are practicing those skills daily in one way or another in class. But in my experience, students really struggle with organizing their writing.
Teach them how to write a concise introductory paragraph that ends with a thesis statement (the answer to the question that was asked for the task).
Then teach them how to write a topic sentence. When they have a clear topic sentence, their paragraph is much more likely to stay on track. This is really important, because the time constraint on this section of the AP Exam is a big challenge!
AP Spanish Argumentative Essay Tip #3
Design teacher-friendly ways for students to practice.
Let’s face it. Students need lots of practice and lots of feedback to get good at this essay. But essays are very time consuming to write and very time consuming to grade.
The strategy I use with my students is to break the essay into parts and allow them to practice one part at a time.
Day 1: Direct instruction followed by a set of sources
-Teach students how to focus on what the question is
-Encourage them to underline, star and highlight important parts of the text
-Ask them to take notes while listening
*Now, develop a thesis/answer to the question. Teach them to choose the one that’s easier to prove rather than the one they believe is the right answer!
Pair students. Have them write the introductory paragraph only. I am always shocked with how many students need help getting the formula right for their intro. I tell them to put their thesis statement last! Why don’t they?? Lol!
Giving feedback on just one paragraph is far less overwhelming and time consuming than grading a whole essay, especially if they’re working in pairs! Half the correcting!
Once they have a good intro paragraph, have them move on to their topic sentences for each body paragraph. Ask them to identify a quote/idea from each source to include within their paragraph.
When you are happy with their topic sentences and quotes, now they can write their conclusion. This part is easier- it’s the inverse of their introduction!
AP Spanish Argumentative Essay Tip #4
At least for me, it took me a long time to feel confident in my instruction for the AP Spanish Argumentative Essay. I did not have a colleague- I was (and still am) the only one teaching the course at my school. The College Board did not have AP Classroom, or at least nothing like what exists now. I had never heard of Teachers Pay Teachers.
Therefore, I learned by trial and error and created everything from scratch. It was time consuming. Like…. years!!!!
Profes, don’t do that to yourself!
If you have a teaching partner in your school, or maybe someone you know from another district, divide and conquer! Share what you create!
Here are the resources I know about that may help you and your students gain confidence regarding the Argumentative Essay!
AP Spanish Language and Culture: the College Board site (has lots of lessons, videos and free practices!)
AP Spanish Argumentative Essay Feedback Checklist (My lifesaver!)
Test Prep Growing Mega Bundle (This includes all my materials for the open ended sections of the AP Spanish test)