7 Great Books for Teaching Middle & High School Economics

7 Great Books for Teaching Middle & High School Economics


Teaching Economics in middle school and high school builds a strong foundation for government and civics studies, but also prepares your students for critical life lessons. Economics is a worldwide issue - every culture, every country, and every person is influenced by their economic situation and the economics occurring in the society around them. Encouraging economic study in your social studies lesson plans, using CCSS and common core standards, will allow your students to develop proficiency in an area that will be beneficial both within their history career and in their personal lives. You can use dull economic textbooks and additional reading to teach economic content, or you can use these 7 great books for teaching middle and high school Economics, which are sure to relay the important content to your students, but also to spark a further interest in economic study which will further your students' education.


I love these awesome books for helping teach economics concepts to my middle and high school students. They help to introduce the finance and math subjects in a way to reach more kids in my classroom. I especially love the first one!

Help your middle and high school students to study up on government and economics with drab, regurgitated textbook material, or inspire a strong foundation in economic knowledge by encouraging your students to delve further into the world of economics. Use these 7 awesome books for middle and high school Economics students to provide an alternative and exciting study in economics. With these 7 great economics books, your students will develop an academic foundation in world government and economics, but also in personal economics, which will benefit them significantly in their adult lives.


7 Awesome Books for Middle and High School Economics Students


1. The Cartoon Introduction to Economics: Volume One: Microeconomics - One of two volumes, The Cartoon Introduction to Economics: Volume One: Microeconomics by Yoram Bauman, Ph.D., presents a hysterical take on Microeconomics. Perhaps the most brilliant take on teaching Economics, Bauman discusses price theory, individual vs. group outcomes, strategic interactions, market interactions, elasticity, and more.

BONUS! Also pick up The Cartoon Introduction to Economics: Volume Two: Macroeconomics to round off the study. Volume Two includes topics such as unemployment, recession, inflation, and more macro study.


2. The Amazon Way: 14 Leadership Principles Behind the World's Most Disruptive Company - John Rossman transports readers into the mind of Jeff Bezos as he established the world's largest Internet retailer, discussing Amazon's third-party seller program, enterprise services, revolution of Internet industry, and transformation from book retailer to primary online retailer for all things purchasable.

BONUS! Explore the World's Most Innovative Companies of 2017 and read about how Amazon tops the list.


3. How to be The Startup Hero: A Guide and Textbook for Entrepreneurs and Aspiring Entrepreneurs - The Startup Hero, by Tim Draper, serves as a revolutionary guide for aspiring entrepreneurs, addressing the struggles they will encounter and offering tips for embarking on the entrepreneurial road. This book will demonstrate the many layers of entrepreneurship and economy to your students.

4. Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything - By Steven D. Levitt, Freakonomics is a popular yet unexpected take on economics, asking all of the "right" questions that you'd never expect to hear from an Economist. An entertaining method to educating the general public on economics, Levitt dives into economic theory with a humorous approach.

BONUS! Radio link! Have students choose a Freakonomics Radio Archive episode, study it, and then present it to the class. Tie it into topics learned from the Freakonomics book.


5. The Everything Economics Book: From theory to practice, your complete guide to understanding economics today - The Everything Economics Book by David Mayer and Melanie Fox breaks down complicated economic knowledge and makes it easier to understand, presenting topics like trade, market intervention, unemployment, inflation, supply and demand, foreign exchange markets, and economy measurement.

6. The Armchair Economist: Economics and Everyday Life - Steven Landsburg studies economic questions with a practical twist, exploring off beat topic like the safety of seatbelts, celebrity endorsements, oil spills, workplace safety, and more.

BONUS! Play The Island Game from the Center for Economic Conversion.


7. Economics Through Everyday Life: From China and Chili Dogs to Marx and Marijuana - Economics Through Everyday Life, by Anthony Clark, is considered a primer to economics for aspiring Economists. In a slow-paced introduction, Clark explores markets, taxes, inequality, jobs, business cycles, recessions, and more. Clark even includes true stories to provide a relative approach to economic study.

SUPER BONUS! Download Where Do Goods Come From? Interactive Resource - it's a FREEBIE!!! Use this resource to help instill the knowledge learned in these 7 awesome reads.


I love these awesome books for helping teach economics concepts to my middle and high school students. They help to introduce the finance and math subjects in a way to reach more kids in my classroom. I especially love the first one!

Most people think money, finances, and economics are boring, everyday topics that individuals are forced to learn but never enjoy. Those people are likely using academic textbooks to "learn" economics, but the only thing they're likely to retain is a resentment for how boring the topic is. These 7 great books for teaching middle and high school economics are sure to encourage your students to embrace the study of economics and not only retain, but enjoy, the knowledge! There are so many entertaining economics games and interactive lesson plans, and coupling them with these 7 great books for economic classes are sure to inspire your students to an economic wealth of knowledge!


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Michele Luck
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7 Great Books for Teaching World Geography

7 Great Books for Teaching World Geography


Teaching World Geography is rewarding in many ways. Teaching geography in middle school and high school allows you to travel through time and space, leading a room full of eager World Geography students to new cultures in faraway places. Geography doesn’t have to be maps and memory drills; instead, interactive geography lessons can merge core content, images, diversity, technology, and emotional accounts, transporting your students across the world while remaining safely in their seats in your classroom. Boring geography studies are sure to go in one ear and out the other, but integrating these 7 great books for teaching world geography into your lesson plans will provide a new perspective on an otherwise difficult topic.

Reading full length books in World Geography can be a great way to address core content, integrate diversity, and practice skills. These seven books are at the top of my list when teaching my Geography students. I love the images the first one suggests!


Today’s teachers are on the brink of innovation, utilizing today’s technology with new teaching strategies, classroom community techniques, and other exciting lesson plans and ideas to integrate into their classroom. However, World Geography is still often seen as a topic of repetitive regurgitation. Memory practice and drills frequent the lesson plans of World Geography teachers, but your students aren’t likely to retain their geography knowledge once they leave your classroom. Instead, using these 7 great books for teaching World Geography will transplant your middle school and high schools students to a different place, allowing them to absorb general social studies topics while learning, and remembering, world geography.


7 Great Books for Teaching World Geography


1. Where Am I Wearing?: A Global Tour to the Countries, Factories, and People That Make Our Clothes – Kelsey Timmerman’s Where Am I Wearing? transports readers alongside journalist Timmerman as he researches the manufacturers of his clothing, encountering poor working conditions and the poverty that riddles many of the workers he meets. Check out the 2012 version for bonus content updating the reader on a fair trade shoe factory.

BONUS! Have students research the countries of their own clothing, and design and share Paper Dolls Around the World with their classmates. You may be teaching teenagers, but they’re sure to engage in a tactile activity like coloring!

2. Material World: A Global Family Portrait – Material World, by Peter Menzel, Mann, and Kennedy, follows over a dozen photographers as they co-mingle with families from other cultures. Illustrating the cultural similarities and differences with striking photographs, Material World provides faces and names with whom your students will connect.

3. Women in the Material World - By Faith D'Aluisio and Menzel, Women in the Material World accompanies Material World: A Global Family Portrait, interviewing and intertwining with the lives of women around the world. 

4. The Power of Place: Geography, Destiny, and Landscape - By Harm de Blij,The Power of Place examines the importance of the culture and physical location into which a person in born. He explores language, technological advances, medical risks, environmental challenges, and more, while stressing the current political and social stance on geography.

BONUS! The Power of Place pairs great with any geography lesson, but integrating it early into a complete World Geography course will ensure a solid foundation for your geography students!

SUPER BONUS! Have students research a country and hypothesize about the differences they would encounter if they had been born in that country. Share with the class!

5. Garbage Land: On the Secret Trail of Trash - Garbage Land presents a nontraditional approach to exploring and learning geography. Author Elizabeth Royte studies garbage consumption around the world. Though teaching about trash isn't commonplace, this book provides a vital look at an aspect of culture and geography which is often overlooked.

6. Hungry Planet: What the World Eats - Like Material World, Menzel's Hungry Planet follows thirty families worldwide, taking an intimate look into their shopping carts, their kitchen cabinets, and on their dinner tables. Menzel studies what kind of groceries each family buys but also delves into the familial traditions that occur around the dinner table.

BONUS! Have students read excerpts from all three Menzel works (Material World, Women in the Material World, and Hungry Planet) and make charts to compare and contrast the clothing and food from different countries.


7. Lost City of the Monkey God: A True Story - Douglas Preston, scientist and adventurer, uprooted his life in 2012 to set off on an exploratory expedition to find the White City, also known as the Lost City of the Monkey God, in Honduras. Preston recounts his experiences on the expedition, intimately discussing Honduran culture, the history behind the curse of the Lost City, the scientific findings of the journey, and the life-threatening disease that he and his fellow scientists contracted.

Reading full length books in World Geography can be a great way to address core content, integrate diversity, and practice skills. These seven books are at the top of my list when teaching my Geography students. I love the images the first one suggests!Though most traditional World Geography lesson plans include memory drills and skills practice, hoping that students will grasp the knowledge they are repetitively studying, they may not retain this knowledge. An interactive approach to teaching World Geography is more effective in presenting a point of view that your students will retain. Using these 7 great books for teaching World Geography alongside interactive lessons like this Five Themes of Geography Centers Investigation Activity, students will transport across the globe, experiencing and understanding other cultures, and building a strong foundation in geography that they may otherwise lack.


Happy Teaching!

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Michele Luck
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7 Incredible Books to Read with World History Students

7 Incredible Books to Read with World History Students




One of the most rewarding aspects of teaching World History is watching your students transform from observers of history to historians. World History offers a unique perspective on history and social studies as a whole; culturally-diverse viewpoints, experiences, and lesson plans present a new piece to the puzzle. From the Renaissance to world religions, cultural differences to comparisons between countries, teaching World History to your students can ignite an interest in the world around them. 

Reading full length books in World History can be a great way for addressing core content and practicing skills. These seven books are at the top of my list when teaching my history students. The first one is my absolute favorite!


Teaching World History doesn’t have to come strictly from a textbook. In fact, presenting different worldviews and cultural ideas will spur an interest in your students that mundane textbooks may not. While many World History books exist, the following 7 incredible books to read with World History students will provide a solid foundation for integrating culture and diversity into your World History lesson plans. Incorporate these texts into your World History lesson plans and encourage your students to embrace the cultural differences wholeheartedly. You’ll watch not only their minds transform, but also their hearts.

7 Incredible Books for World History Students
 
1. Life in a Medieval City - This book, by Frances Gies and Joseph Gies, contrasts factual Middle Age history with a delicate balance of realistic biographical text, entertaining writing styles, and engaging historical perspectives. Discussing French history before the Black Plague, Gies and Gies explore a time before modern conveniences, and what life would have been like in a city circa the Middle Ages.

BONUS! Pair this read with a Middle Ages Daily Life Activity which explores Middle Ages topics including clothing, food, entertainment, weapons, the Bubonic Plague, and more!


2. 1066: The Year of the Conquest - David Halwarth's 1066: The Year of the Conquest describes the time surrounding William the Conqueror's defeat of the English at the Battle of Hastings. Using a plethora of sources, Halwarth examines conflicting perspectives on commoners, kings, and who actually won the battle.

3. The Last Voyage of Columbus: Being the Epic Tale of the Great Captain's Fourth Expedition, Including Accounts of Mutiny, Shipwreck, and Discovery - Written by Martin Dugard, The Last Voyage of Columbus explores the Age of Exploration from a biographical perspective. Dugard writes through the eyes of Christopher Columbus as he retells his life in the year 1500 and the events that followed his discovery of the New World.

BONUS! After reading The Last Voyage, analyze The Washington Post's Five Myths About Christopher Columbus. Were these myths discussed in the book? Solicit reactions from students.


4.  Into Africa: The Epic Adventures of Stanley and Livingstone - Martin Dugard tells the viewpoints of both Dr. David Livingstone and a journalist, Morton Stanley, as they embarked upon the exploration of Africa. Discussing all aspects of the exploration, from politics to personal encounters to the good and bad of their journeys, Into Africa discusses African exploration with a very intimate feel.

5.  Genghis Khan and the Making of the Modern World - Jack Weatherford, author of Genghis Khan and the Making of the Modern World, recounts the Middle Ages and exploration in Asia during and after the time of Genghis Khan. Examining his leadership on a profound level, Weatherford introduces Khan to readers while seamlessly incorporating the history of the times.

BONUS! Create a Venn Diagram after comparing Genghis Khan and the Making of the Modern World to a History Stories article, 10 Things You May Not Know About Genghis Khan. What similarities did you find? Differences?


6. Guns, Germs & Steel - Guns, Germs and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies, by Jared Diamond, Ph.D., recounts tales of exploration and industrialization while boasting the human condition that influenced our modern world. He brings a scientific viewpoint to the table while also examining culture and society and how they were impacted by their environment, their early food production, religion, and more.

7. The Things They Carried - In The Things They Carried, Tim O'Brien examines war, but also integrates perspectives on the soldier's innermost thoughts and circumstances, viewpoints from the surrounding world, and delves into truth in storytelling. Renowned by the Chicago Sun as "...controlled and wild, deep and tough, perceptive and shrewd," The Things They Carried brings an emotional aspect into an otherwise chilling account of war.

BONUS READ! Don't dismiss the idea of reading a picture book to or with your World History students. Sometimes, reading a simpler, aesthetically-pleasing children's book can enhance your student's understanding of an otherwise hard-to-grasp or emotionally-trying topic. Faithful Elephants: A True Story of Animals, People, and War takes its readers along for the ride with three elephants at a Tokyo Zoo who are influenced greatly by World War II going on around them.

SUPER BONUS! Once students have examined WWII from an emotionally engaging children's perspective, use the WWII Infographic Analysis Interactive Lesson to provide an intellectual perspective on the war.


Reading full length books in World History can be a great way for addressing core content and practicing skills. These seven books are at the top of my list when teaching my history students. The first one is my absolute favorite!World History textbooks are sometimes stereotyped as one-sided, biased, or otherwise ineffective at presenting the whole picture. Studying World History through a different lens, with the use of many external resources, will allow you to present both an emotional perspective which will capture your students and spur an interest in the topic, as well as a more clinical and historically-accurate perspective, which ensures that your World History students will grasp the knowledge needed for AP Testing, standardized testing, further Social Studies education, and college or higher level education. Engage students with a World Religions Comparison Activity, or sit down with a children's book to absorb the emotions surrounding war, poverty, and conflict. Presenting World History lessons in a diverse and engaging manner will incite a love for learning World History among your students.


Happy Teaching!

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Michele Luck
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7 Incredible Books to Read with U.S. History Students

7 Incredible Books to Read with U.S. History Students


Teaching U.S. History doesn't have to be boring; in fact, social studies lessons centered around gripping, modern reading strategies and interesting core content can be fun and exciting for your U.S. History students when you utilize these 7 incredible books to read with U.S. History Students. Including exciting historical texts in your lesson plans can and will encourage your students to delve deeper into the text, fostering a healthy interest in the U.S. History topic of your lesson plan and the historic era itself.



Reading full length books in U.S. History can be a great way for addressing core content and practicing skills. These seven books are at the top of my list when teaching my history students. The first one is my absolute favorite!



There are many books appropriate for your U.S. History students, but these 7 incredible books provide the core content needed to teach a historically engaging lesson plan. Teaching social studies with these texts will encourage a life-long interest in history for your U.S. History students. Thread the following texts into your next lesson planning session, sit back, and watch your students engage!


7 Incredible Books for U.S. History Students

1. Triangle: The Fire That Changed America - Triangle is one of my all-time favorite U.S. History texts. I use it when teaching about the Progressive Era. Detailing the Triangle Shirtwaist factory fire of 1911, Triangle illustrates a brutal time in which worker's rights, workplace safety, and child labor laws weren't commonplace. Author David von Drehle paints a vivid picture of New York City circa the early 1900s, telling the unabashed story of the era while highlighting the events of that fateful day.

Bonus! Incorporate NPR's The Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire podcast archives to further engage your readers and bring the story to life.

Super bonus! Use the Gilded Age Complete Unit for U.S. History to build a strong foundation for the Progressive Era.


2. The Train to Crystal City - Another great U.S. History read for students is The Train to Crystal City: FDR's Secret Prisoner Exchange Program and America's Only Family Internment Camp During World War II. Author Jan Jarboe Russell explores social studies concepts while following two interned teenagers as they face the struggles of daily life in an internment camp alongside the regular complications of adolescence. Allowing your U.S. History Students to bond with these two girls will present a less clinical perspective to World War II and internment camps.

3. The Long Way Home - David Laskin's The Long Way Home: An American Journey from Ellis Island to the Great War follows 12 U.S. immigrant soldiers, fighting alongside their fellow draftees during World War I. The Long Way Home tells a riveting, yet true, tale of the Gilded Age that will both educate your U.S. History students and also vividly paint an emotional picture of WWI and immigration.

Bonus! Bring WWI to life with this engaging Trench Warfare activity.


4. The Children's Blizzard - From the same author as The Long Way Home, The Children's Blizzard tells a similarly engaging tale of the 1800s American frontier. Opening the tale with hundreds of young pioneers who perished on the prairie following an unexpected cold snap and blizzard, David Laskin explores the Homestead Act, Westward Expansion, and American Settlement in 19th century America.

Bonus! Have students research the MinnPost's Minnesota History article recounting the blizzard that took so many teenage lives in 1888. Compare and contrast the brief article with Laskin's detailed account.


5. The Worst Hard Time - Timothy Egan, New York Times writer and author of The Worst Hard Time: The Untold Story of Those Who Survived the Great American Dust Bowl, follows many families who suffered and persevered through the Great Depression, facing daily struggles of living and raising a family in the Dust Bowl, circa early 1930s.

6. Warriors Don't Cry - Autobiography Warriors Don't Cry: A Searing Memoir of the Battle to Integrate Little Rock's Central High by Melba Pattillo Beals transports readers to 1957 when Melba faced the challenges and perils of high school. Except, Melba didn't have a normal high school existence. She faced incredible persecution from her classmates, was attacked and injured multiple times, and took a stand for Civil Rights. This book is a great introduction into the Civil Rights Movement, integration, and the Brown v. Board ruling that shook American schools in the 1950s.

Bonus! Allow students to re-enact Brown v. Board with the U.S. Courts re-enactment script. Or, encourage students to engage in debate regarding the ruling.


7. Dixie's Daughters - Encourage controversial reading on Confederate values and traditions and spur healthy debate about life in the South post Civil War. Karen Cox's Dixie's Daughters: The United Daughters of the Confederacy and the Preservation of Confederate Culture (New Perspectives on the History of the South) details the efforts by the members of the United Daughters of the Confederacy as they worked to commemorate and preserve the Confederate lifestyle, memorializing the Confederacy beyond its time.

Quick Tips to Choose the Right Reads

  • Consider your audience! Your class may be more technically inclined, and your students may appreciate a clean, historically accurate viewpoint. Or, your students may benefit from a vividly illustrated piece with emotion and memoir.
  • Mix it up! U.S. History students can benefit from textbook material that is age appropriate and educationally advanced. They may also engage in a children's book, analyzing the images and simple text.


Reading full length books in U.S. History can be a great way for addressing core content and practicing skills. These seven books are at the top of my list when teaching my history students. The first one is my absolute favorite!
Compiling the many resources at your digital fingertips can move your U.S. History lesson plans from boring or dull to relative, interesting, and inspiring. Teaching U.S. History should be fun for you and your students! From a complete Primary Source Analysis bundled set to elevate student engagement, to interactive, era-specific walking tours, use these resources to allow your U.S. history students the opportunity to move beyond basic social studies lessons!

Happy Teaching! 


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Michele Luck
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Teaching Women's History Month in Secondary

Teaching Women's History Month in Secondary


Teaching Women's History Month or any other special topic or holiday in my middle and high school classroom just never fit.  Since I taught chronologically in my history classes, and tried to incorporate important women and minorities into my lessons everyday, I also found it redundant to go out of the way to add in an extra lesson dedicated just to the significant women when I had so much else (my content) to teach.

So what did I do?

Are you looking for strategies or resources for teaching about women in history? Do you want to address Women's History Month, but are not sure how to break into your regular lesson schedule? Hoping to build your lesson plans with women, minorities, and everyone represented to help give your middle or high school students a voice? These are 7 great ideas, and I especially love the first in my U.S. and World History classroom! #teaching #womeninhistory #womenshistorymonth #womenshistory #lessons #lessonplans #ushistory #americanhistory #lessonplans

Make It About Everyone Everyday

Teaching about women and minorities should not be something we do only once a year. Instead, make sure you create lessons that will always be including all humans that are relevant to the story.
  1. Use primary sources to add in the stories of all humans as you build your lessons throughout the year.  Journals, images, and letters are a great tools to add in the different voices in your U.S. or World History lesson.
  2. Create People Timelines around your classroom for each unit, with students adding information on the important people of the time. Be sure to encourage them to look beyond the textbook and look for the real stories of the past.
  3. Meet & Greet people from the past with your students. Let students dress up or create character collages after they research the significant people for the unit. Then take a day to "meet" all of the participants. Or, if you want to make it more engaging, hold a tea party, a salon meeting, or an interview show.

Make Everyone Visible 

Women (and minorities) should be visible in every lesson you teach. Students, of all ages, should be able to see themselves, and see those who represented them in the past, in every possible topic you teach.
  1. Use images in every lesson. Start off the unit with great visuals to spark discussion. Always allow students to lead the image analysis and to share what they think is happening before you address the "content" of the lesson.
  2. Encourage students to create works to display in the classroom (and hallways) where they will see women, men, black, white, brown, and every other human representation.  These do not have to be images, but my be symbolic representations - quilts to represent slave women who told stories (often time of escape routes) in their stitching, or sculptures to show the angst or anguish of women who did not have the rights to their own children, or paper dolls to hand around the classroom that depict book characters, significant cultures, or people from history.
  3. Create bulletin boards that display those who have made a difference in our world. Make it with significant people from history, current humans from all around the world that are making a difference (Think about the kids from FL that are standing up and making their voices heard), or just pictures of students' family members to help them see they have a place in your classroom and our world. 

Stuck and Just Need a Resource?

If all else fails, and your creative juices just aren't getting you there, start simple with Biography Cards. Have students study the individual's contributions, build from the cards with research projects, discuss the individuals and create People Timelines, or just display them on your door or walls to show you are appreciative of the contributions made by women and by all humans from around the world, both present and from the past!

If you need the perfect resource to help you get things started during Women's History Month, take look at this biography set that has many ideas for teaching about the Significant Women In American History.

Are you looking for strategies or resources for teaching about women in history? Do you want to address Women's History Month, but are not sure how to break into your regular lesson schedule? Hoping to build your lesson plans with women, minorities, and everyone represented to help give your middle or high school students a voice? These are 7 great ideas, and I especially love the first in my U.S. and World History classroom! #teaching #womeninhistory #womenshistorymonth #womenshistory #lessons #lessonplans #ushistory #americanhistory #lessonplans

Happy Women's History Month!
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Michele Luck
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How to Teach the DBQ Writing Process

How to Teach the DBQ Writing Process


Teaching the DBQ Process can be as overwhelming for teachers as it is for students.  Facing the challenge with a set step-by-step guide can help to overcome the obstacles for introducing this task in any grade level. Having a plan can also reduce the stress felt by you and your students, and can help lead you and your students to DBQ writing success!

Teaching the DBQ Process can be as overwhelming for teachers as it is for students. Follow this step-by-step how to guide for leading your students toward DBQ writing success in the elementary, middle, or high school classroom. #DBQ #teaching #lessonplans #teachingstrategies #middleschool #highschool #education #iteach

FIRST: Reminders for Teaching DBQ Writing

  1. Teach the steps independently. Do not try to teach the entire process in a day, week, or even month. It is a process and should be built up as the school year progresses.
  2. Allow students the time, resources, and encouragement to master each step before you move on to the next. If students are stuck on primary source analysis, they will never be able to move on to inference or corroboration. 
  3. Be confident for your students and help them build confidence in themselves. Do not tell your students you are working on the DBQ Process or even on a writing process. Too many students are easily spooked by these types of writing, and will turn off before you can introduce the lesson. Instead, teach the independent steps, and then tell them they have mastered the DBQ!
  4. Plan time for practice. Primary source analysis, categorization, corroboration, and all of the other skills required for DBQ writing should not be isolated for a writing task. Analyze primary sources as bellringers. Categorize with a simple acronym every time you read text or examine a source. Practice the steps in everything you do. Then putting them together will be a breeze!
  5. Teach students to be observant.  Observation is the key skill in DBQ writing. And even better, observation is an incredible skill in navigating life! If they can master it for your writing task, they can master it for anything. 

Steps for Teaching the DBQ Writing Process

Again, remember that these are steps you will do one at a time with practice built in for mastery of each before moving on to the actual writing of the DBQ. Do them one at a time, or each in different activities you do within your class lessons, but do not introduce them all together for the purpose of DBQ writing. It would overwhelm any student and turn many off to the lesson altogether.

1. Teach Analysis

Teach the basic skill of analysis. Do this in every lesson you teach. Whether students are reading from a text or using a map for a Geography lesson, they are analyzing the information found within the document. Explain this to students and help them follow key steps for thorough analysis.
    1. Encourage students to value what they see. This first step is vital for students to get to the overall significance of any document or source. 
    2. Ask students to record the basics. This is analysis, but you do not need to disclose that it is analysis until it is mastered. Build confidence in your students by celebrating the little victories as they complete each step.
      1. What is in the document? 
      2. Who is involved? 
      3. Who created the document? 
      4. What biases may they have had? 
      5. Did they have a purpose in creating the document or in participating in the event? 
      6. When did it happen? 
      7. What historical setting may have played a role in the document creation?  
      8. Where did the event occur? 
      9. Is the location important?  
      10. Where was the document created? 
      11. Does the creation location play a role in creating bias?  
      12. Why did the event take place? 
      13. Why was the document created? 
      14. What is the significance of the event and the document? 
      15. What is the big picture?
    3. Practice. Practice. Practice. Practice analysis orally. Practice with documents. Practice with maps and images and charts and graphs. Analyze advertisements, brochures, videos, news articles, notes you catch them passing in class. Analyze everything!

 2. Teach Categorization

Teach the skill of categorization.  Do this in every lesson you teach. Make it simple and make it memorable. Provide students guides for categorization or use acronyms to help with recall and processing. And teach it as a skill we do in everyday life.

Teaching the DBQ Process can be as overwhelming for teachers as it is for students. Follow this step-by-step how to guide for leading your students toward DBQ writing success in the elementary, middle, or high school classroom. #DBQ #teaching #lessonplans #teachingstrategies #middleschool #highschool #education #iteach
  1. Start with a simple guide. I used SPRITE since it was also utilized by the College Board for AP testing. Get students accustomed to the guide and help them to learn the individual categories. 
    • S - Social
    • P - Political
    • R - Religious
    • I - Intellectual
    • T - Technological
    • E - Economic
  2. Practice grouping items in a variety of ways.  Use comparison diagrams to help students see the individual categories AND how they correlate with other categories. Create color codes for class specific categories and be methodical in your delivery and practice of these categories. 
  3. Practice. Practice. Practice. Like with analysis, categorization is a step that should be done with every source utilized in the classroom. Make it a habit for all students, and when it is needed for assessment, they will practice it will ease.

3. Teach Historical Thinking

Teach Historical Thinking for every topic introduced in your Social Studies classroom. For younger students, make it simple by asking how the topic is important in time. Why does it matter now?  For older students, push further to help them make connection to the cycle of historic events and peoples. Help them evaluate trends over time and change as a result of those trends. Using historical thinking will help to guide them to a better understanding of then and now.
  1. Teach students to recall what they already know on the topic. Encourage them to examine what they learned in the previous lesson or last unit. 
  2. Help students visualize history as a timeline. Create a classroom timeline as you move from unit to unit to help students create this visual representation of history.
  3. Teach students to ask the question: How does that time and place in history impact this topic?  If they can make those connections, they are thinking historically!
  4. In DBQ writing, this historical thinking will be the flow of their piece. The background information, the theme, the era in history... will set the premise for writing the response. 

4. Teach Opinion Versus Position

Many students are quick to give opinions about topics in history, but they are unsure how to develop a position. And there is a difference. You must remind them that a position is supported by their historical thinking.  If it doesn't pass the time test, it is not an appropriate response position.
  1. Start with right versus wrong. Most students can understand this comparison quite quickly. Be sure to stress the historical thinking again, and reiterate that what is right now may not have been then!
  2. Practice writing opinion pieces. Use these as your daily bellringers or for exit writing. There is nothing wrong with writing opinions. However, there is an appropriate time and place for them, and in DBQ Writing, they must know the difference. 
  3. Practice writing position statements. I assigned position statement writing on the very first day of school in my AP classes. We discussed a simple, familiar topic, examined current events or other sources to beef up the discussion, and then students had to write a clear position statement in the last five minutes of class. And time is important. This position statement will eventually form their complete thesis statement, and being able to come up with a thesis statement quickly will help them to jump through the rest of the hoops toward task completion easier with less stress. 

5. Teach Thesis Statement Writing

I taught thesis writing in collaboration with my ELA teachers. There are many strategies for teaching this skill, but in choosing your strategy, be sure to consider your students and the age appropriateness for each strategy.
  1. Follow a simple checklist for thesis statement writing.
    • Write a clear position.
    • Include your categories for follow-up and further discussion in your paragraphs.
    • Check for historical accuracy. 
    • Evaluate the statement for optional conclusions. 
    • Make sure it is clear and concise.
  2. Teach students to double check that their documents and the categories they created will fit their thesis statement.  
  3. Reiterate the importance of being concise in the thesis writing process. They are not using the documents in their thesis, but will introduce them appropriately in the final steps.

6. Teach the DBQ Writing Process

This is just the burger of the meal!  Once students are confident in the creation steps of the DBQ Writing Process, they can easily put it all together as they write their final piece.
  1. Historical setting or context introduction
  2. Thesis Statement with category inclusion
  3. Body paragraphs with individual thesis statements for each category following the same introduction from the overall thesis statement
  4. Inclusion of documents into each paragraph based on appropriate fit with category, including appropriate citations and comparisons with other documents
  5. Addition of other relevant knowledge, including primary sources that are missing from the provided DBQ set.
  6. Check that bias and point of view from document analysis has been included in paragraphs
  7. Write a clear and concise conclusion that wraps up the thesis statement and a potential call to action or declaration of potential resolution appropriate for the historical period.
Teaching the DBQ Process can be as overwhelming for teachers as it is for students. Follow this step-by-step how to guide for leading your students toward DBQ writing success in the elementary, middle, or high school classroom. #DBQ #teaching #lessonplans #teachingstrategies #middleschool #highschool #education #iteachDBQ Writing should not be as scary as many students (and teachers) make it out to be. It is simply the compilation of steps and skills we are already teaching in the Social Studies classroom. Make it fun. Make it an everyday occurrence. Make it doable. If you take it step-by-step, your students will build the confidence they need and will be DBQ masters before you know it!


Happy Teaching!

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Michele Luck
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