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What are some good ideas for a writing prompt about religious groups in the colonies?in...

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pinkgirly | Student, Grade 11 | (Level 1) eNoter

Posted May 29, 2011 at 8:21 AM via web

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What are some good ideas for a writing prompt about religious groups in the colonies?

in my AP US History class, we are writing a research paper. we are supposed to pick a debatable topic in US history and write a prompt for it. then write our paper on the prompt. i need help writin a prompt about the topic i want to do.

I want to write about religious groups in the colonial era. i was thinking about comparing and contrasting two or more groups, but that sounds a little lame. I dont know..

can anyone help me write a good prompt?

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pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted May 29, 2011 at 8:32 AM (Answer #1)

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I agree with you that a simple compare and contrast sounds a little stale.

One thing that you might try, if you want to, is a question about whether the Puritans are worthy of the respect that we give them.  We see the Pilgrims as our forefathers, as the first Americans, even though they came after the Jamestown settlement.  This is largely because of the idea that they came for religious reasons rather than for economic reasons.  However, the Puritans were also very intolerant and relatively undemocratic.  If you write about something like this, you would be able to explore behind the myths (good and bad) about the Puritans.

So my prompt would be something like "Looking at all of their characteristics, good and bad, should we respect and honor the Puritans and look at them as (in spirit, at least) the first true Americans?"

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askteacherz | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Adjunct Educator

Posted May 29, 2011 at 9:43 AM (Answer #2)

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Puritanism is truly a quality route to take for your prompt. I would encourage you to perhaps look at the debatable topic surrounding one of their governors, John Winthrope. He wrote a relatively now well known speech that incorporated the belief that Massachusetts Bay was to be founded upon a Commonwealth theme in which they (the Puritan Faithful) were to create "A City Upon a Hill," a place for all others to look up to and emulate.

This theme has been constantly referred to throughout United States history, the Monroe Doctrine, Manifest Destiny and Ronald Reagan have all referenced it and the ideas have roots in Winthrope's beliefs. My point is that you could perhaps prompt individuals to write on whether the mentality of "The City Upon a Hill" still exists in the United States today: is it a theme that has extended across generations, century to century throughout our nations history? Does the US still act like a nation that is placed upon a hill? Does our domestic and foreign policy reflect such lofty virtue still? Good Luck.

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