How low can you go?

If I heard Chip Brady right, he suggested that DBQs (or at least components of them) can be taught to students as young as the third grade. We’ve got elementary school teachers on this trip. Do you agree with him? If so, why? If not, why not?


12 responses to “How low can you go?

  1. To answer your question, yes…yes…yes. Changing gears, here’s a note from Chip:

    Hi, everyone!

    I just wanted to thank you all for a terrific morning. It’s clear you are wonderful and caring group, and I hope you enjoy the rest of your time in Chi-town.

    As I mentioned at the workshop, please feel free to contact me about any DBQ related question, especially if your school or district ends up getting the material. We answer emails and calls about the implementation of units all the time. Our website is if you want more info on the materials and costs.

    Take care, and go White Sox!

    Chip Brady
    The DBQ Project
    425 Lee Street
    Evanston, IL 60202

  2. Delphine Grayson

    Yes its possible. I don’t see why you couldn’t teach this in lower grades. It is all about the approach and the understanding of your students. I know I teach high school but you could still set the stage for higher level of thinking by introducing the topic of primary sources. Also DBQs help develop writing skills. Analytical skills are something that takes time and effort to develop. DBQs give some of the control back to the student over their lesson. They get to decide by answering the essential question what happened at this time in history. The students are just being told how it happened. 🙂

  3. Yes! Elementary students can be introduced to primary documents and DBQs. They should be introduced to these as a basic skill that can be built upon by each grade level. Think high school teachers….how much better your students would be able to understand and argue points!

  4. Wtihout a doubt elementary kids can handle DBQ’s. We might have to hold hands at first, but the students are excited to lern at that age, and like to tackle “older and harder” stuff.

  5. I think as a first grade teacher there would be a lot of hand holding…but I do think it is possible. I don’t know if I would at first start them with arguments…first we would just explore the questions and possibilites. I do foresee some problems with some of the materials due to content; therefore, as a teacher I will need to find a supplement primary source. You will definitely have to stay on your toes and be aware! ~Melissa

  6. I know my third graders would be able to do this. I agree with Karen that if elementary teachers would introduce this with hand holding and scaffolding, that middle school and high school teachers will be able to go much further with it. Third graders may not be able to write a big indepth pargraphs but they would be able to to pick a side and say why they think the way they do in a good paragraph structure based on the document they chose or were given.

  7. I want to do this with my son. He is in the 3rd grade and writing is a struggle for him. Maybe Amy, you or someone else can help me with some 4th grade material?

  8. David Hazlett

    I do not teach the lower grades, but I see DBQs as a way to encourage students to write. Obviously there would be a lot of guided directions and “hand holding.” I would think you could/would cut down the documents and their complexity and possibly begin with writing paragraphs instead of essays. On second thought my son (entering fourth grade) has written short essays, so maybe esays would be realistic. Am I correct my elementary experts?

  9. One other thing I thought about…maybe at the beginning the questions should be yes or no answers only…that way you start to focus on the analysis of the documents and you aren’t throwing so many concepts to put them into overload. Just another thought. ~Melissa

  10. darlenederbigny

    I have done webquests with 2nd and 3rd graders. They have a reading selection and they have to pull out information to get the facts. Usually there is one one question for discussion and drawing a conclusion . They do need guidance but they are capable. I think they would do just fine with DBQs.

  11. crystalcampbell

    I am confident that my 3rd graders will be able to do a DBQ with my assistance. I was skeptical at first but after looking through one I know it is possible.

  12. Kellie Jo Roberson

    I definitely think elementary would be able to do this. When my own children were small they were given pictures of my grandparents and asked what they thought the picture was about. Their answers were always interesting, and then after we talked about life on the farm, they created great stories of their own. Starting with basic questions that are simple allows them to use their imagination and develop ideas. I think it is great for all ages.

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