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How to: DBQs and primary sources

More and more of us are integrating primary sources and inquiry learning into our instruction. In Kansas, this emphasis on historical thinking is tied to our recent standards. We’re moving to a writing slash social studies state assessment with a shared rubric that supports analyzing evidence and responding to a writing prompt.

There are several things that teachers are using to integrate the use of evidence and historical thinking into their classrooms:

  • Document Based Questions
  • Stanford History Education Group

Both of these tools provide opportunities to train kids to use evidence and develop products that demonstrate understanding. But we sometimes don’t have time to go out and track down all of the online goodies. So browse on down to find some useful DBQ, SHEG, and primary source sites.

General resources:

Instructional Ideas:




2 Comments Post a comment
  1. Amanda Jessee #

    Glenn, have you had any experience with the Gilder-Lehrman Institute for American History? They have a wonderful collection of activities K-12. Once you register on their site (it is free!), try searching for Teaching Literacy Through History. There are a TON of cool lessons with primary sources. For my fifth graders, earlier this year we used an excerpt from Columbus’s journal, summarizing it and then answering a writing prompt based on what the kids learned. We are currently reading a secondary source about coming over on the Mayflower. My kids have used our school iPads to create a mini documentary using the info they gathered. Next, we are moving on to read and interpret the Mayflower compact. Worth checking into!

    December 4, 2014
    • glennw #


      I love the GLI! And they do have some very sweet resources and lessons. It sounds like you’re doing some awesome stuff with it. Would love to see the mini-documentary!

      Thanks for sharing.


      December 5, 2014

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