Rethinking the DBQ

Offering students productive diversity creates memorable learning experiences because they are tailored to students interests & needs. Productive diversity encourages learning activities in which students:

  • are designers of knowledge
  • work collaboratively to offer feedback
  • differentiate the process & pace of learning
  • reach similar but high goals

I recently tried to offer English Language Learners productive diversity while they studied the transatlantic slave trade. Instead of asking all students to analyze the same documents/primary sources and write the same Document Based Question (DBQ) essay, students worked in pairs to create first-person video stories about an African’s journey from Africa .  Students used a free online video editing tool (WeVideo), primary sources, and this rubric to create their videos.

For the most part, the project demonstrated productive diversity because

  • Students developed their own understanding of the slave trade by analyzing documents in order to come to their own conclusions.
  • They worked in peers to offer feedback on the storyline and historical details.
  • There was some differentiation of the pace but all students created a video.
  • There were different degrees of imagination, historical detail and audio & video editing students could tackle but they were assessed with the same flexible rubric.

Here is a sample video of the final product:

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