Writing A Historical Argument (Overview)
If you ever want to have real fun, start talking about the 'correct' way to teach writing with any group of teachers. For serious fireworks, try it with AP History folks after you've all had a drink or two. Better you stick with safer, less provocative topics like abortion, religion, or the validity of comic books and superhero movies as cultural touchstones.
There are many good ways to write a decent argumentative (historical) essay, but even more ways to write a bad one. If there were only one 'right' way, we'd all teach it that way, students would all write them that way, and they'd all get 5's on their AP exams and A's on our semester tests. Wouldn't that be swell?
But it's not that straightforward. There are too many different types of prompts about too many different subjects, and often a wide range of possible approaches to even the most straightforward of the lot. Writing in the Histories (or the 'social sciences,' if you prefer) is a booger because really, you can't boil it down to a set of steps or rules likely to apply in every situation for every prompt. On the other hand, many students need structure and some modeling in order to begin learning a new skill - especially one as potentially intimidating as outlining a historical essay.
Here are some ways to approach historical writing - in this case, the 'Argumentative Essay'. If you're uncomfortable with so much structure and worried about students thinking they must eternally cram whatever they have to say into the same Jello mold, you're absolutely right to worry. On the other hand, if you genuinely believe that with little guidance and armed with sufficient content knowledged, students need only be pointed the right direction and set free to wax convincing, you're - what's the word? oh, yes - delusional.
Just kidding. You may simply be overly idealistic. After all, you DID become a teacher.