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Document-Based Questions

Description 

The Document-Based Questions Performance Task Guide helps educators guide students through the process of analyzing primary source documents and producing a piece of writing that incorporates the information from the documents.

One of the key shifts called for by the Common Core is the practice of reading, writing, and speaking that is grounded in evidence drawn from texts. In colleges across the country, students are expected to engage in as many as 75 text-based discussions in their first year, as well as to produce 8-12 argumentative essays that are evidence-based. The ability to analyze and make use of primary documents is not only a basic expectation for college students; it is an essential skill in many professions, such as in the social and physical sciences. Archeologists analyze photographs of artifacts, meteorologists analyze weather maps, and health care workers analyze patients’ accounts of incidents.

Opportunities for Student Choice 

There are limited opportunities for student choice in a typical DBQ, but students could select a topic and research multiple types of documents, analyze the documents, and then produce a piece of writing based on their research.

Authentic Task 

Many professions in the social and physical sciences use a variety of documents on a daily basis. Archeologists may analyze photographs of artifacts. A meteorologist analyzes weather maps. A mathematician may analyze data charts like scatter plots. A health care worker can analyze primary sources, such as a patient’s account of an incident.

Opportunities for Exhibition to an Audience 

The school could sponsor a historical analysis evening and partner with a local historical association where students could lead workshops of analyzing documents for community members. High school students could prepare DBQ for middle school and elementary students.

Downloadable Resources 
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Explore Document-Based Questions

How are document-based questions structured and used?
Develop a clear enough understanding of the document-based question to be able to explain your understanding to others.

Common Core Standards 

  • CCRA.R.1
  • CCRA.R.2
  • CCRA.R.4
  • CCRA.R.6
  • CCRA.R.7

Time To Complete 

1-2 hours

Document-Based Questions Performance Tasks Rubric

What are the expectations for this performance task?  

Each performance task has a single-point rubric, which lays out the expectations for college-and career-ready performance. This type of rubric allows teachers to provide specific, focused feedback without limiting students’ creativity or putting a ceiling on their...

Develop Critical Thinking Questions_DBQ

What does it mean to be a critical thinker and how can questions promote critical thinking?

Common Core Standards 

  • CCRA.R.1
  • CCRA.R.4

Time To Complete 

1-3 Hours

Analyze Visual Documents(Images, Maps,Cartoons)_DBQ

How can you understand information found in visual documents?
Comprehend and analyze the information presented in visual documents such as photos and cartoons.

Common Core Standards 

  • CCRA.R.1
  • CCRA.R.2
  • CCRA.R.4
  • CCRA.R.6
  • CCRA.R.7

Time To Complete 

1-2 hours

Analyze Data Charts(Tables,Graphs,Diagrams)_DBQ

How can you understand information presented in data charts?
Comprehend and analyze the data presented in charts.

Common Core Standards 

  • CCRA.R.1
  • CCRA.R.2
  • CCRA.R.4
  • CCRA.R.6
  • CCRA.R.7

Time To Complete 

1-2 hours

Create a Thesis Statement_DBQ

What is your main point in writing the DBQ essay?
Consider the information you have pulled from the documents and decide the focal point of your essay. 

Common Core Standards 

  • CCRA.R.7
  • CCRA.W.5
  • CCRA.W.8

Time To Complete 

1 Hour

Code Documents_DBQ

How can you organize and summarize the information in your documents?
Find a way to categorize and organize documents. 

Common Core Standards 

  • CCRA.R.1
  • CCRA.R.2
  • CCRA.R.4
  • CCRA.R.6
  • CCRA.R.7
  • CCRA.W.2
  • CCRA.W.4
  • CCRA.W.5
  • CCRA.W.8

Time To Complete 

1-2 Hours

Outline and Draft_DBQ

How can you figure out what you want to say?
Find a way to organize your information and thoughts about your documents. Use the writing process to construct your first draft. 

Common Core Standards 

  • CCRA.R.7
  • CCRA.W.5
  • CCRA.W.8

Time To Complete 

2-5 Hours

Give and Receive Feedback_DBQ

How can you improve your draft?
Using feedback from a peer and/or teacher, strengthen your draft by improving your use of evidence, continuing to develop your argument, and addressing counterclaims with care and respect. Refine your use of grammar and punctuation, as well as your use of academic vocabulary. 

Common Core Standards 

  • CCRA.W.4
  • CCRA.W.5

Time To Complete 

3-5 Hours

Revise_DBQ

How can you improve your draft?
Using feedback from a peer and/or teacher, strengthen your draft by ensuring your facts and details are relevant, your organization is clear and strong, and your use of voice is strong and appropriate to the audience.  

Common Core Standards 

  • CCRA.W.4
  • CCRA.W.5

Time To Complete 

3-5 Hours

Edit_DBQ

How can you improve your draft?
Using feedback from a peer and/or teacher, strengthen your writing with a focus on grammar and professional language. 

Common Core Standards 

  • CCRA.W.4
  • CCRA.W.5

Time To Complete 

2 Hours

Extension Ideas_DBQ

How else can you use document-based questions?
Explore multiple ways that document-based questions can be used in other contexts. 

Common Core Standards 

  • CCRA.R.1
  • CCRA.R.2
  • CCRA.R.4
  • CCRA.R.6
  • CCRA.R.7
  • CCRA.W.2
  • CCRA.W.4
  • CCRA.W.5
  • CCRA.W.8

Time To Complete 

Varies

Practice and Prepare_DBQ

How do you prepare to write a timed DBQ Essay?
Practice and prepare for a document-based question.

Time To Complete 

1-2 Hours