HM - June 2018 - Brady

Teacher Resources

Do You DBQ?:
The DBQ Project and NCHE's 2018 National Conference

by Chip Brady

At the most recent NCHE annual conference, The DBQ Project partnered with NCHE to provide a pre-conference workshop entitled, “Do You DBQ? Using DBQs to Engage Students in Historical Inquiry.” This workshop brought together forty-two teachers from around the United States, as well as groups from American schools in Mexico, Canada, China, and Paris, France. Throughout the afternoon, participants were engaged in an exciting, hands-on training, working through an inquiry-based document-based teaching unit. Using The DBQ Project’s unit, “What Was Sam Houston’s Most Heroic Decision?” and facilitated by one of The DBQ Project’s professional development trainers, Keith Hyndshaw, teachers discussed what character traits make a hero and analyzed four of Sam Houston’s toughest decisions – the battle of the Alamo, relations with the Texas Indians, the Kansas-Nebraska Act, and the Texas secession before the Civil War. Strategies for differentiation and scaffolding for document analysis and evidence-based writing were modeled and discussed, and literacy strategies and student engagement were emphasized throughout. The workshop concluded with a lively debate where teachers were split between the Alamo and Texas secession as to what decision was Sam Houston’s most heroic.

The DBQ Project was founded in 2000 to support teachers and students in learning to read smart, think straight, and write more clearly. We are dedicated to teaching students to become better analytical thinkers without losing creativity in the process. The target is not the “right” answer, but a thoughtful one. As teachers, we believe all students can develop high-level critical thinking skills if they have consistent instruction and a chance to practice. We also believe that when we provide teachers with materials that blend educational best practices and content-specific questions, we promote and support transformational change in our schools. The DBQ Project 6-Step Method underpins the design of all our DBQs and Mini-Qs. Each step builds on students’ curiosity and increases motivation and confidence to answer a compelling, authentic question. Evidence-based arguments, both spoken and written, is a necessary life skill. This is the primary focus of The DBQ Project. Students who do DBQs find meaning amidst an array of information. In real life, whether we are deciding how to vote, what to buy, or how to spend our time, we answer questions by looking at diffuse evidence and deciding what it means. Our DBQs and Mini-Qs are structured to allow students at all levels to practice answering engaging historical questions. As they learn to use evidence to support their arguments, students are practicing skills that will last them a lifetime.

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About NCHE

The National Council for History Education provides professional and intellectual leadership to foster an engaged community committed to the teaching, learning, and appreciation of diverse histories.