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Cross Curricular DBQs in Elementary, Middle, and High School

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Justin Muenker

on 11 March 2015

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Transcript of Cross Curricular DBQs in Elementary, Middle, and High School

How Do Students Do A DBQ?
Step 1: Teachers pose the topic question to students.
Step 2: Teachers introduce content with a "hook activity." Students will be developing a preliminary hypothesis.
Step 3: Students read a background essay on the topic.
Step 4: Teacher/student discussion about the background essay
Step 5: Students interact with documents.
Step 6: Students do pre-writing activity
Step 7: Students write evidence based essay answering the question.
What Do Teachers Do With A DBQ?
Go through the first one with your students in a very "hands-on" way to convey expectations.
Go through evidence based writing within this lesson before you expect them to do it.
Allow for peer editing.
Provide a lot of SPECIFIC feedback.
Stay consistent with your grading school wide. (6+1, AP exam rubric, DBQ Rubric)
In order to allow students to become better writers allow them to re-do their final essays with your corrections.
Why Do DBQs?
Student centered learning rather than teacher-preacher method
Prepares students with the analytical, writing, and persuasive skills necessary for:
Common Ground
Parcc, IB, AP Assessments
Common Core ELA
"They require students to work with documents and use higher-level thinking skills to use this information to defend a thesis. This is a great skill to have, especially when writing research papers in any content or in life."-John Williamson
Why Do DBQs?
Content delivery
Differentiation Opportunity
Prepares students to think critically.
Analyzing Documents/Difficult Text
Leveled Text by Complexity
Generating Hypothesis
Develops Persuasive Writing
Exposure to Critical and Controversial Topics
Exposure to Taking a Side and Defending It
Exposure to Debate Strategies
Encourages Students to Think from Multiple Perspectives
What is a DBQ?
A DBQ is a Document Based Question.

Students are given a topic question.
Students are given primary and secondary sources that are related to the question to analyze.
Primary Source: A source created at the time of an event. (Photograph, letter, etc..)
Secondary Source: A source created after the event. (Documentary, textbook)
Students will complete an evidence based prompt based on the question.
DBQs in Elementary, Middle, and High School
Where Do I Get The Materials for a DBQ?
The internet has many pre-made DBQs across a variety of content areas.
There are DBQs for World History, Civics, US History and there are plenty of cross curricular DBQs already created.
I have copies made already for P.E., Music, Math, Science, SS, Reading, LA, and more.
I can help you make them.
Primary vs Secondary Sources
Primary Source:
The Declaration of
Independence by: The Founding
Fathers (1776)
Secondary Source:
Johnny Tremain by: Esther Forbes (1943)
Completed DBQ Topics:

Language Arts/Reading
:Should schools ban some books?
Physical Education and Health
: Is dark chocolate really good for you?
Language Arts/Reading
: Should schools abandon uniforms?
:What role does music play during war?
: Did competition fuel the space race or slow it down?
: Geometry-When will I use this?
Social Studies:
Is the American jury system outdated?
Should the US abandon the electoral college?
How did the US Constitution guard against tyranny?
Which ideals of the Declaration of Independence are the most important?
What was the greatest Mayan achievement?
Are we allocating the federal budget properly?
What is the most effective propaganda used in political campaigns?
Should citizens be required to vote?
Should schools be allowed to limit students' online freedom of speech?
Search and Seizure-Does the government go too far?
Education in Sparta-Did the strengths outweigh the weaknesses?
The Silk Road: Recording the Journey
World Religion: How are different world religions similar and different?
Underlying Question:
What do we want our students to be when they leave our school?
My Answer: I want my students to be prepared for the real world. I want them to be able to identify a problem or an area of interest. I want them to be able to independently research that problem and have the ability to interact with the research surrounding that problem. I want my students to be able to solve that problem. I want my students to be able to think for themselves, develop their own opinions, and back up their opinions.
Example Time: Is dark chocolate a healthy treat?
Hook Activity
: Food Lists
Background Essay
: Picture This
Doc. A:
6 Health Benefits of Dark Chocolate
Doc. B:
Graph-Main Health Effects of Chocolate
Doc. C:
The Problem with Chocolate
Doc. D:
Graph-Moody Food
Analyzing documents and utilizing them to formulate a thesis and an argument
Debate (Teacher discretion)
Writing a persuasive essay supporting their side of the argument with evidence.
Does This Reflect Best Teaching Practices?
1. New research (and common sense) supports the fact that being able to make a statement and back it up with statistics, quotes, or research is a sign of higher level thinking, adaptability. IT'S A SKILL WE USE EVERY DAY!
2. Research also shows that students interacting with the content directly instead of being told by a teacher improves their understanding, personal interest, and brain development.
3. Students working and interacting independently with the material offers teachers the flexibility to group students by ability level and differentiate. It alos gives them a chance to work one on one with students who need more support.
"Unfortunately, lectures tend to be relatively ineffective at improving student learning. In fact, numerous studies have found that alternative teaching methods tend to be more effective than lectures at improving a wide range of student learning outcomes.
" (Benedict & Anderton 2004)
The DBQ Project

"The DBQ Project was started in 2000 to help teachers help students read with understanding, think straight, and write clearly.

As teachers, we believe that all students can develop high-level critical thinking skills if they have consistent instruction and a chance to practice. Our use of primary and secondary sources give students the opportunity to investigate history and other subjects from a variety of perspectives. Our flexible method supports discussion and debate as students clarify their own ideas and write evidence-based arguments. Learning this way not only deepens student understanding of content, it also builds reading, thinking, and writing skills."
How Do I Make My Own?
Step 1: Identify a skill goal and a content goal

Step 2: Formulate a question that leads students towards accomplishing those goals.

Step 3: Create a hook activity that touches on the basic concepts you want them to learn but in a relatable way.

Step 4: Find or write a brief background essay to give students an idea of what they're doing.
Step 5: Find a variety of documents, graphs, photos, quotes, charts, or other sources.

Step 6: Create guiding questions for each source that will enhance student understanding.

Step 7: Begin the lesson either in small groups, independently, as a class, or a blend of all of these options.
"Using research is great but how often does it change?"-Ed Millis
Debate Roulette!!!!
Examples of Student Created Evidence Based Arguments
"There was a survey of British school teachers asking if they had been a victim of cyberbullying. About 15% of them said that they had been cyberbullied. (Document B) Even though that isn't a lot of people, just the idea that there was a group of teachers that have been victims show that it does influence the workers of the school and therefore their ability to say these things should be limited by the school."
Topic: Should Schools Be Allowed to Limit Students' Online Freedom of Speech
"In Document 5, the bible states, '...believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.' The Torah also says, "And curse, if ye will not obey the commandments of the LORD your God. (Doc. 6) These quotes show how deities from different religions will reward or punish their followers depending on whether they do or don't respect their wishes."
Topic: How are different world religions similar?
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