Frequently Asked Questions
1) What’s the difference between the Teacher Resource Binder and the Student Book?
The Teacher Resource Binder (TRB) is the “Mother Ship”. The TRB includes each of the DBQ or Mini-Q lessons and support materials for teachers. Examples of teacher support include content notes for documents, teaching tips, graphic organizers, and transparencies. Many schools purchase the TRB and photocopy the DBQ lessons for students. Other schools prefer to purchase class-sets of student books which come with a TRB because that saves the photocopying costs.
2) Can I just buy the student book?
No. Schools must either purchase the Teacher Resource Binder (TRB) or the Class Set of Student Books which comes with the TRB. Additional student books for large classes may be purchased once a Class Set has been ordered.
3) What is a Mini-Q?
Mini-Qs are shorter DBQ experiences involving 4-8 documents. Although geared to the upper elementary and middle school age group, many high school teachers (including AP teachers) have used them with success. Our Mini-Qs include questions about American History, World History, Texas History, and Civics.
4) In the Regular length DBQ units in American and World History, what's the difference between the Long and the Short Version?
Our long version DBQs typically are 14-17 documents in length. The short version DBQs average 9-10 documents. Moreover, many of the short version textual documents have been edited to accommodate reading levels. Don’t be fooled. Many AP teachers we know will use the short version and some middle school teachers insist on the longer version. The key is your primary goals and how much time you have in your teaching calendar.
5) Do the Mini-Qs have a Long and Short Version as well?
Each Mini-Q comes in 2 versions, the Enhanced Version and the Clean Version. Both versions have the same 4-8 documents, but the Enhanced Version (EV) is heavily scaffolded throughout. For example, below each document there are several scaffolding questions that drive the analysis for the student. The Clean Version (CV) uses the exact same documents but does not include all of the scaffolding exercises. In other words, the CV is identical to our longer DBQ sets, just shorter.
6) Is this a program for AP classes?
Our mission is to get DBQs in the hands of kids of all skill levels. To that end we have created very structured units of study and provided teachers with an arsenal of scaffolding options to meet their kids’ needs. This structured approach is very appealing to many AP and Pre-AP teachers. Still, our questions are worded quite differently than the AP tests and our DBQ exercise is longer. A typical DBQ takes 2-5 days. That said, the World History Program is organized around the themes and periodization requirements of the World AP course.
7) Do you do teacher workshops?
Yes. We offer one and two day introductory workshops and follow up workshops which focus on student writing. We also partner with districts to train coaches and teacher leaders to sustain the initial trainings. Our most frequent workshop length is one day. Please see our professional development tab on the home page for more details.
8) What’s the reading level?
This is a tricky question for any document heavy program. Documents vary in their reading level. Some are difficult and others quite straightforward. None of the textual documents are over a page long, and many are a few sentences in length. Although we occasionally insert definitions for words, we edit the length of documents rather than translating or transcribing them.
Teachers across the country are using our materials with elementary, middle school, and high school students. We want young people to work on rigorous DBQ and Mini-Q activities, but not DBQs that will shut down reluctant readers. Many documents are charts, graphs, cartoons, maps or artwork.
9) Is the DBQ Project appropriate for Teaching American History Grants?
Of course! TAH grant directors and participants appreciate the blend of history and pedagogy embedded in the program. If you are a grant director and struggling to make the crucial link between your content providers and the classroom, we can help. We have done workshops with many grants around the country with much success. See the testimonial page.
10) Is this a writing program or a history program?
The DBQ Project is unapologetically a writing program that also teaches history. Good historical thinking is intertwined with writing, and as educators we cannot avoid this reality. There is no question that thinking is clarified by writing, and the student who says, “I know what I want to say, but just can’t write it” is often not done thinking. If we are serious about assessing historical thinking, we must get our students to write with power and skill.
11) Do DBQs and Mini-Qs align with the Common Core State Standards?
Yes. DBQ and Mini-Q lessons provide students with an opportunity to analyze informational text, to synthesize information from various sources, to identify and evaluate author point of view, and to support claims with evidence in writing. Students practice close reading of non-fiction texts, speaking and listening, and writing skills. See our Common Core State Standards tab on the homepage for more information and detailed alignment information.
12) How can I fit DBQs into an already jammed curriculum?
There is no easy answer to this question. Depth vs. Coverage is still one of the key issues confronting any serious social studies teacher. Here are a couple of suggestions when considering DBQs for your course. First, see where our program overlaps with your course plan. Often a 2-5 day DBQ experience might supplant existing lessons or indeed a unit, so the time trade off is not overwhelming. Second, most schools who use this program only do 3-4 DBQs a year.
13) How much time does it take to teach a DBQ Project unit?
The answer to this question depends on the age and experience level of the students, the teachers' comfort level using documents, and the number of documents in the lesson.
For an average high school class, we recommend the following sequence for a first DBQ experience:
• Day One: Hook Exercise, Background Essay discussion, and modeling document analysis.
• Day Two: Analysis and discussion of documents.
• Day Three: Analysis and discussion of documents.
• Day Four: Writing Workshop Day—students might write essays at home that night or come in with an outline and write in class on Day five.
As the year progresses, and students become more familiar with the process, fewer class periods will be needed.
14) I’m already too busy to grade all these papers—are there alternatives to a full-blown essay?
Yes. The documents can be used for socratic seminars, debates, role-plays, etc. Teachers can also pare down the writing process to culminate in an outline or summary. Although students cannot learn to write without practicing writing, DBQ Project Materials support important discussion skills and can help students understand the type of thinking involved in writing research papers too. Several pages in the toolkit specifically address this concern.
15) Be honest—can all kids really do this?
Yes! The key is scaffolding the experience to meet the student’s skill level. That means taking more time with some students. Ultimately, to do DBQs well with all students, teachers must have at their disposal a variety of scaffolding options. That’s what our program is about - support the teacher so the teacher can challenge and support the student.
16) Is this program really as good as people say it is?
We think so. . . check out our testimonial page.
17) Can I get these DBQs electronically?
No. We do not have the copyright to produce this material electronically.
18) Can I photocopy the materials?
Schools and teachers may photocopy the right hand side of the binder for classroom use. Also, there are many black-line masters in the Teachers’ Toolkit that are meant to be photocopied.
19) Is it true that the White Sox won the World Series in 2005?
Yes, thanks for asking. Although we are die-hard White Sox fans, these DBQs work well with the sons and daughters of Cub fans, too.