Do you DBQ? (Middle School Edition)

DBQ’s…besides being a super cool acronym (Peace Corps forced me to love acronyms otherwise you can’t follow a conversation…), Document Based Questions are one of my favorite things to use in the classroom.

Background Information:  I was an AP World History teacher that recently took a job teaching 7th grade Social Studies in my hometown.  WOW!  Going from AP to grade 7 S.S. has been a culture shock, but it’s also allowed me to set high expectations for my middle schoolers in hopes that one day they’ll have the reading, writing, and critical thinking skills to perform at the AP level.  You’re probably thinking that not every student is an Advanced Placement student, and you’re right.  My high-ability license helps me identify and target gifted students, but I’ve found that ALL students have a gift.  DBQ’s have allowed me to discover some of these gifts, and ALL students can excel at a DBQ-type activity if it’s presented in the correct way.

Using DBQ’s:  Social Studies literacy is very important to me.  I believe all Social Studies teachers are also reading and writing teachers…but at the same time, 7th grade students are not the target audience of many primary source documents or inquiry-based lesson plans.  [This is changing thanks to some amazing teachers dedicating themselves to middle school students!]  Many lessons from SHEG for instance are meant for higher reading levels.  Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE SHEG!  But the readings are too advanced for most of my students.

As a result, I’ve found ways to engage my students in DBQ activities and empower them to construct content knowledge in their own ways.

    1. Reading Like a Historian
  4. Interdisciplinary Adventure
    1. Social Studies
    2. Science
    3. Language Arts
    4. Math

If you don’t DBQ, I hope you’ll consider giving this challenge a chance!


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