The ABC's of the DBQ
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  • 1. The ABC’s of the DBQ… Brandon Wiley Director of Staff Development/Social Studies (K-12) West Seneca Central School District
  • 2. What is a DBQ?
    • A document-based essay question measure the ability of students to work with multiple perspectives on social studies issues.
    • Students:
      • Examine 6 to 8 sources on a particular historic theme or issue
      • Respond to questions following each document
      • Incorporate documents and outside knowledge into an essay response
  • 3. The DBQ represents “real world” or authentic assessment in that students:
    • Read and analyze passages, charts, graphs, cartoons, and other visuals
    • Comprehend, evaluate and synthesize the information into a coherent package
    • DBQs assess both content and skills while incorporating higher order thinking
  • 4. Constructed Response
    • The constructed response portion of the test requires students to analyze a series of documents and answer several questions for each document. The questions are intended to build in difficulty, some requiring outside knowledge.
    • On this portion of the assessment, the documents are not related to one another. They can include a variety of document types.
  • 5. What types of documents are used?
    • Graphs
    • Charts
    • Maps
    • Cartoons
    • Photographs
    • Artwork
    • Eyewitness accounts
    • Historical passages
  • 6. Scaffolding Questions
    • This portion of the assessment again requires students to analyze a series of documents. The documents are provided to help scaffold students’ background before writing the document-based essay. The number of documents typically can range from 4 – 9. The document are all related to the one another or the task .
    • Each document is followed by a series of questions. The questions are intended to build in difficulty, some requiring outside knowledge.
  • 7. Historical Background
    • The document based question begins by providing students with a historical background. This background “sets the stage” for the documents students will analyze and the task which they will write about.
    • The historical background may be paraphrased in the students’ introduction, but should not be copied.
  • 8.
    • The historical background is followed by the task . The task explains to students what their final essay must be about.
    • Students must be taught to “break down” the task, as it may include multiple parts or requirements.
  • 9. DBQ Writing is Different…
    • Students need to understand that the writing they must produce for a DBQ essay is somewhat different than the writing required in ELA or for creative purposes.
    • When I write a story (narrative), I need a beginning , middle and an end . But papers that share information (expository) have introductions , body paragraphs (development and explanation) and conclusions .
  • 10.
    • An introduction tells the reader what to expect and what information will be shared.
    • The beginning of a story pulls the reader into the story; it does not always give the reader advance warning of what is to come.
    • DBQ writing is about giving the reader information.
  • 11. Why Do We Need to Teach Expository Writing?
    • Most of the writing that students will be asked to do in school and in the workplace will be expository.
    • Expository writing teaches writers to think clearly and logically.
    • Expository writing helps students learn content.
    • Expository writing prepares students to give speeches and oral presentations.
    • Learning to write clear paragraphs, reports and essays gives students confidence.
    • Learning to write clear paragraphs, reports and essays helps students perform better on writing assessments.
    • Mastering expository writing helps students be productive citizens who are able to take an active role in community affairs.
      • Step-Up to Writing, Teacher’s Manual, p. 2-4
  • 12. Rubric The rubric is intended to be applied holistically to the piece.
  • 13. Five-Step Model for Prewriting the Essay
    • Step One
      • Read the question and highlight (underline) action words. Determine required tasks. Identify key: words, eras, names, issues or categories
  • 14. Step Two
    • “ Break down” the task and consider all parts of the question.
    • Create a visual representation to highlight each portion of the task (e.g. a web or outline)
  • 15. Step Three
    • Brainstorm the topic or era. Write down key facts about the topic.
      • This encourages students to get down all of their “outside knowledge” before even seeing the documents.
  • 16. Step Four
    • Read and analyze the documents:
      • Highlight (underline) key words
      • Make margin notes
      • Look at the author and when it was written
      • Identify:
        • Point of view
        • Purpose of the document
        • Frame of reference
        • Type of document
  • 17. Step Five
    • Make connections to outside historical information
      • Students need to attach their outside information to the information presented in the documents.
  • 18. Using a Graphic Organizer…
    • I-chart
    • 4-square
    • Webs
  • 19. Multiparagraph Expository Writing…
    • Multiparagraph Papers Include Five elements…
      • An introductory paragraph with a thesis statement and projected plan
      • Organizational information created by blocking out and creating informal outlines
      • Transition topic sentences that introduce the key ideas supporting the thesis statement
      • Examples and evidence that elaborate on the key ideas introduced in the transition topic sentences
      • Conclusion that refocuses the reader’s attention on the thesis statement
  • 20. Writing the Essay
    • Write an introductory paragraph or thesis statement:
      • A thesis statement is just like the topic sentence you write when you write a paragraph. The purpose of a thesis statement is to identify the topic (the reason for writing) and the position (what you plan to prove or explain). This statement controls the rest of the paper.
  • 21. Write the Body Paragraphs
    • Develop information citing supporting evidence from the documents and outside historical knowledge:
      • Provide evidence: details, specifics, examples and reasons
      • List facts: dates, events, numbers, persons, places
      • Address all elements of the question
      • Make transitions
      • Use a varied sentence structure: simple, compound and complex
  • 22. Using the Documents
    • According to the rubric, students must use “one more than half” of the documents presented.
    • The preferred method for citing documents is parenthetically (Document 3) or simply by referring to information in the documents and implying their use.
    • Avoid the list-like approach of, “In Document 3,” etc…
    • Outside knowledge should be incorporated where appropriate to support the piece
  • 23. Write a Conclusion
    • Restate the thesis and summarize major points
  • 24. Let’s look at student work…