HSS PL & DBQ Cohort

DBQ Project:

History/Social Science teachers are piloting The DBQ Project™ digital online resources.

DBQ Project™ Cohort Goal:

  1. 17 teachers will participate in a three-year pilot with professional development in the The DBQ Project with other available resources like Stanford History Education Group’s Reading Like a Historian. 
  2. Teachers collaborate, share best practices, and provide feedback in regards to student learning during scheduled after school meetings.
  3. Students reflect on their experience with computer use of DBQ’s online and how their levels of engagement leads to content-knowledge acquisition and proficiency with online CAASSP performance task-like activity.

Reading Like a Historian curriculum engages students in historical inquiry. Each lesson revolves around a central historical question and features a set of primary documents designed for groups of students with a range of reading skills. Document based questions (DBQs) are authentic assessments. Evidence-based argument, both spoken and written, is a necessary life skill. This is also the primary focus of The DBQ Project, with the additional supports often needed for student proficiency in reading, writing and research. Students who do DBQs find meaning amidst an array of information. In real life, whether we are deciding how to vote, what to buy, or how to spend our time, we answer questions by looking at diffuse evidence and deciding what it means.

This curriculum teaches students how to investigate historical questions by employing reading strategies such as sourcing, contextualizing, corroborating, and close reading. Instead of memorizing historical facts, students evaluate the trustworthiness of multiple perspectives on historical issues and learn to make historical claims backed by documentary evidence. To learn more about how to use these lessons, watch a series of videos about how teachers use these materials in their classrooms on the Teaching Channel.


Diamond Ranch High School

Emerson Middle School

Ganesha High School

Garey High School

Lexington Elementary School

Lorbeer Middle School

Marshall Middle School

Palomares Academy 7-12 School

Park West High School

Pomona High School

Vejar Elementary School

DBQ Project method:

The DBQ Project 6-Step Method underpins the design of all our DBQs and Mini-Qs. Each step builds on students’ curiosity and increases motivation and confidence to answer a compelling, authentic question.

Step 1: The Hook Exercise

Engages students and orients them to the question.

Step 2: The Background Essay

Further orients students to the question and provides essential context that helps make sense of the documents.

Step 3: Understanding the Question and Pre-bucketing

Helps students plan so they can target their investigation of the documents. Clarifying the question motivates students  to start reading their sources to find answers.

Step 4: Analyzing the Documents

It’s like you’re a detective!  The documents provide clues and evidence students need to support their thesis or claim. They provide the knowledge and information students need to answer the question.

Step 5: Bucketing

Helps students get organized. Buckets become containers for evidence that students use to categorize or group evidence from the documents.

Step 6A: The Thrash-Out and Preparing to Write

Students prepare to write by debating or “thrashing-out” their answer to the question. Students practice using evidence from the documents to support and verbally validate their claims. They use what they learn to outline their essays.

Step 6B: Writing the Essay

Students write multi-paragraph, evidence-based essays using their documents, buckets, and outlines to support and explain their reasoning.