We had the pleasure of speaking with Cory Hentzen about her advice teaching DBQ. Cory teaches at Andre Agassi College Prep in Las Vegas, Nevada.
- Describe your experiences teaching with DBQ.
Student engagement is definitely something that is “working.” The strategy of inquiry-based instruction pulls students into the DBQs. The DBQ Project has created some genuinely compelling questions and the students love being detectives. The writing process is streamlined for both teacher and students. It is easy for me to teach how to write the DBQ essay and students have an easy time writing following the structure. They enjoy it! After the first DBQ we did on Samurai v Knights my students actually begged me to let them write another essay! Say what?!?!
- How are the students responding to the process?
In general, students react positively to the process of document analysis and essay writing. I don’t have to do much to get them excited about being historians or detectives. They love having the freedom to determine what THEY think based on the evidence. They are having fun, but also learning very high level thinking and writing skills. This is a profound combination.
- What advice would you give to teachers who are new to the DBQ process?
Just try it. From start to finish. Trust the process–and your students. I think often we underestimate what students are capable of because they aren’t reading on grade level or struggle with a myriad of things. It is such a fun journey to go on with your students and it will make teaching enjoyable to watch them grapple with the work of historians. You will modify it and adjust it countless times, but I promise most of your students will be able to be successful right out of the gate.
- Describe a few of your best practices teaching DBQ.
In my opinion, Document Analysis is the most important set in the DBQ process. It is THE most difficult to teach, as well. I’ve done it a number of ways. I scaffold my use of DBQ Project mini-Qs throughout the year. I start the year doing Document Analysis together–we take notes and review the Habits of Document Analysis and analyze a few documents together. I slowly remove the scaffolds and move them through the Document Analysis sheets until they reach the Long Form. As the year progresses, I give students the option to use the Document Analysis sheet that works best for them, but they must master one form–I really like the Highly Scaffolded form for this because it requires students formulate and WRITE their analysis for easy use in their DBQ essays.e