Friday, October 28, 2016

DBQs, Part II

October has been a busy month--as the first quarter draws to an end, the pace of the school-year shows no sign of slowing.

My students have continued to work on their DBQ, and I have continued to look for ways to make the planning process more engaging and helpful for them.  Last time, I wrote about the first step, having them do a gallery walk of the documents.  Today, I will share the second and third steps, both of which I tried for the first time this year!

Step Two: The week after the gallery walk, I had the students work in their pairs or groups to categorize the documents.  Because I am asking the students to incorporate 8 of the 11 documents into their response to the question, it is essential that they can group the documents together so that their discussion is framed by ideas, and not by individual documents.

For this activity, I put the titles and authors of each document onto cards, which I cut out and gave to each group.  They then had 15 minutes to put the cards into three or four categories of their choosing.  It was fascinating to see how different groups categorized some of the same documents differently, and also how different groups with similar categories chose different documents to include in those categories.  I then asked each group to share their categories and the documents they included, and wrote the results on the board.

Step Three: This past week, I told the students that the time had come to start tying together the content of the documents with the history we've been studying in this unit.  For this activity, I provided them with a graphic organizer in which they would use categories from the previous activity as their headings, briefly record what the documents they chose had to say about that topic, which historical events and figures fit with that topic, and how the history may have been influenced by the Enlightenment ideals in the documents.

As the students completed these charts, I kept reminding them that even though they had not started writing yet, they were essentially building a thorough outline which would make writing the DBQ much easier.

Next week, we will start writing, and the final product will be due the following week.  This is by far the most guidance I have put into the writing process for a DBQ, and I am excited to see how well the students analyze the documents and make connections between the ideals of the Enlightenment and the realities of early American history!

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