DBQ's are Document Based Questions that are used in certain Advanced Placement classes as well as in a number of state assessments. Because DBQ's make students write essays using a number of primary source documents, DBQ's require our students to think, analyze, and use and refine their literacy strategies. For this reason, in my experience as a middle school social studies teacher, the use of DBQ's are not just for higher level students only but are important for all students.
One strategy for engaging middle school students is to help them identify with a person who lived in the past -- someone who affected the course of events and/or was affected by them. Research assignments through which students assume the identity of historical individuals can help middle school students surpass their age-appropriate egocentricity, while allowing them to have "big egos" as someone of historical importance.
--Jason L. O’Brien and Wolfram Verlaan
Literature provides an ideal vehicle for guiding students beyond conventional accounts for a more profound exploration of Spanish influence in the Americas.
--J. Allen Bryant
Civil Rights Pioneers came from various ethnic groups, rose up in many settings, and fought over many decades. One of the greatest baseball players of all time was a Native American who lived from to 1871 to 1913. Historical context -- Keep in mind that the massacre at Wounded Knee occurred in 1890.
NPR's StoryCorps can be a opportunity for students to conduct an oral history project, or interview people about their daily experiences, or survey opinions regarding a current event. This project involved team teaching.
Students learn about a farm workers' union, its current struggles, and then write letters to Mr. Chavez.
Years later, their hand-written letters appear in lesson plans at the website of the Cesar E. Chavez Foundation.