The American Revolution: Historic Thinking DBQ

Bostonians paying the excise-man

My Social Studies Methods class at the University of Portland recently published a free multi-touch iBook –  Exploring History: Vol II. It features ten engaging questions and historic documents that empower students to be the historian in the classroom. For more info on our project and free download of the fully functional version click here.

To better publicize student work, I’m featuring each chapter in it’s own blog post. More in series here.

Generative Question: Did the American Colonists have legitimate motivations for initiating war and separating from Britain?

The American Revolution by Scott Deal  - Download as pdf (8.5MB) The American Revolutionary War lasted from 1775 to 1783. The conflict was between the thirteen North American colonies and British. Both the American Colonists and British had different perspectives on the war. The follow documents are primary sources from both the American Colonists and British. As you analyze and examine the documents, take into account the source of each document and any point of view that may be presented in the document. I want the students to use evidence to support their answers to the questions pertaining to each document and form an argument based on what they have learned and think.

Reflection by Scott Deal

Designing a Document Based Question, or DBQ, has been a great experience. I learned the importance of creating a dynamic generative/essential question that serves as the framework of the assignment. Just as critical, are the five to eight related documents that will assist the students in answering the generative question. The documents can be sources including images, texts, videos, or audio. Each document will also include scaffolding questions to assist the student in examining the document.

The goal of the DBQ I created was to design and utilize a generative question, documents, and scaffolding questions that incorporated historical thinking skills. I wanted students to analyze the documents, gather evidence from the sources and create an argument, or side, about a topic. The topic of my DBQ is the American Revolutionary War. This DBQ could be used as a conclusion of a unit.

I think the DBQ assignment process has given me a great deal of value as a learning experience. Creating interesting and engaging questions and finding quality sources has helped me learn and work through the process of finding content for my classroom. The challenges I had were making sure the assignment incorporated proper historical thinking skills. I found a lot of success in discovering a variety of documents and sources. Some of the lessons I learned were the importance of peer review and advice from peers.

Next time, I would approach this assignment with the intent of finding more engaging documents such as video and audio. I thought this assignment was clear and intriguing. I look forward to creating a DBQ assignment in my future career.

Image credit: The Bostonians paying the excise-man, or tarring and feathering
Philip Dawe(?), mezzotint, 1774, 14 x 9 1/2 inches
Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress

Exploring History in 10 Interactive Lessons

Exploring-History-VolIII’m very pleased to share a new iBook just published by my Social Studies Methods class at the University of Portland. Free at iTunes. Static pdf version of the iBook.

It features ten engaging questions and historic documents that empower students to be the historian in the classroom. The units draw from a fascinating collection of text and multimedia content – documents, posters, photographs, audio, video, letter and other ephemera. “Stop-and-think” prompts based on CCSS skills guide students through analysis of the primary and secondary sources. Essential questions foster critical thinking. All documents include links back to the original source material so readers can remix the content into their own curated collections.

All of my students assignments had a public audience on our class blog and were designed to meet our three class goals: 

  • Learn to think like a historian.
  • Become a skillful Instructional designer
  • Develop technical skills for production, reflection, growth and professional networking.

The lesson design process began early in the semester when students designed lessons in historical thinking skills based on the work of Sam Wineburg and the Stanford History Education Group (SHEG). They focussed on three key skills – Sourcing, Contextualizing and Corroborating. Then students identified essential questions worth answering and gathered documents to explore the question in an extended DBQ design process.

Exploring History: Vol II was our PBL capstone and is available on iTunes in 51 countries around the world. Here’s a post (from last fall’s class) that describes our project workflow (including how we utilized iBooks Author). Here’s Exploring History: Vol I created by my fall 2013 class.

I’ll be doing a future blog post that features each student’s DBQ, but for now here’s the US and World History lessons in chronological order:

  1. The American Revolution by Scott Deal
  2. The Pig War by Andy Saxton
  3. Cesspool of Savagery by Michelle Murphy
  4. Chemical War by Erik Nelson
  5. Americans’ Perceptions of Immigration in the 1920s by Ceci Brunning and Jenna Bunnell
  6. The New Deal and the Art of Public Persuasion by Kari VanKommer
  7. Combat Soldiers in Context by Kristi Anne McKenzie
  8. The Marshall Plan: Altruism or Pragmatism? by Samuel Kimerling
  9. Little Rock Nine: Evaluating Historical Sources by Christy Thomas
  10. First Ladies as a Political Tool by Emily Strocher  

Thinking Like A Historian: Student-Designed Lessons

History of SpringfieldOver the last few weeks my University of Portland EdMethods students have been designing lessons in historical thinking skills based on the work of Sam Wineburg and the Stanford History Education Group (SHEG). They focussed on three key skills – Sourcing, Contextualizing and Corroborating.

The lessons were designed in a shared Google presentation. Below you will find the project workflow and links to each lesson as an individual blog post.

Flip the introduction:

I used TEDEd’s video curation tool to turn an existing YouTube and into a flipped lesson introducing historical thinking skills. Students also read Thinking Like a Historian by Sam Wineburg.

Deconstruct the model:

With that background, students spent a portion of our next class deconstructing a few of the assessments found in SHEG’s Beyond the Bubble. They were asked to find three questions that focus on any of these skills: Sourcing, Contextualizing and Corroborating. With their team they explored how the assessments are designed:

  • How many historic sources, what types?
  • What additional information are students given?
  • How many prompts?
  • What are students asked to do?
  • How is the assessment designed to support the skills?
  • Be prepared to share your finding with the whole class.

Design your own lesson:

Students were then assigned to design their own historical thinking lesson based on the Beyond the Bubble assessment model. They used a shared Google presentation to host their lesson. Since not all students were familiar with Google tools, I used SnagIt to create a YouTube playlist: Working with Google Presentation

Guidelines for the lesson included:

  • Title slide for your mini-lesson. Make it catchy!
  • Your name as author of the mini-lesson on your lesson title
  • Target students – by grade level
  • Indication of one (or more) of the historic skills to be studied – Sourcing, Contextualization, Corroborating
  • One or more historic documents. Text, image and videos can be inserted into the slide. Longer documents can be linked to via URL or saved in Google drive with link to it.
  • Source URLs for all documents used
  • Guiding questions for students to use with document(s)
  • Brief description of how the document(s) and question(s) should reinforce the targeted historic skill(s)

Peer Review /  Reflection / Blog post

At our next class, students did some peer editing of each other’s lesson using Google doc’s comment feature. They used the peer feedback to do a final version of their lesson. Students were then asked to write a brief reflection on the process – it could include their take on historic thinking, the specific lesson model borrowed from SHEG, working with a shared Google presentation, peer review process, etc. They then used the content from their lesson (plus their reflection) to write an authored post for our class blog.

Ceci Brunning - March 5, 1770: “Massacre” or “Incident?”
Jenna Bunnell - Arriving in the Land of Plenty
Scott Deal - My Big Symbolic Colonial Wedding
Samuel Kimerling - American Adobo: The Fight for the Philippines
Kristi Anne McKenzie - Dr. Seuss on Domestic Security
Michelle Murphy – We Found a Lot of Naked People
Erik Nelson - Damming the Nation
Andy Saxton - Implications of the First Amendment: “To Bigotry No Sanction, To Persecution No Assistance”
Emily Strocher - The Only Thing We Have to Fear is Not Being Able to Correctly Identify These Speeches (and Fear Itself)
Christy Thomas - Who are we? A Mini-Lesson on Assimilation through Education
Kari VanKommer - Words From War: Two Soldier’s Accounts of War in Europe
 

Image source: Image from page 126 of “The history of Springfield in Massachusetts, for the young; being also in some part the history of other towns and cities in the county of Hampden” (1921)