Teaching with DBQs: Helping Students Analyze Nonfiction and Visual Texts, 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

Teaching with DBQs

Helping Students Analyze Nonfiction and Visual Texts, 1st Edition

By Kevin Thomas Smith


144 pages | 53 B/W Illus.

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pub: 2018-03-21
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Help your students navigate complex texts in history and social studies. This book shows you how to use document-based questions, or DBQs, to build student literacy and critical thinking skills while meeting rigorous state standards and preparing students for AP exams. DBQs can be implemented year-round and can be adjusted to meet your instructional needs. With the helpful advice in this book, you’ll learn how to use DBQs to teach nonfiction and visual texts, including primary and secondary sources, maps, and paintings. You’ll also get ideas for teaching students to examine different points of view and write analytical responses. Topics include:

    • Using the SOAPSETone (Speaker, Occasion, Audience, Purpose, Subject, Evidence and Tone) technique to to analyze visual and nonvisual texts;
    • Teaching students to distinguish between primary and secondary sources;
    • Working with multiple texts and learning to recognize the relationships between them;
    • Formulating DBQs to suit different types of assessment, including short-answer questions, multiple-choice questions, and in-class essay prompts;
    • Evaluating student responses and providing constructive feedback.


"As document-based questions become a more common form of assessment, Teaching with DBQs is a must-have resource for educators. The author provides strategies and examples for teaching students a step-by-step process for analyzing and evaluating documents and for responding to document-based questions. This proven process will aid teachers in helping students to develop the necessary life skill of high-level critical thinking." – Karen Benningfield, Supervisor of Secondary Instruction, White County Schools, TN

"Teaching with DBQs is the go-to guide for helping teachers and students overcome the complexity of Document Based Questions. Smith incorporates his own personal experience in the classroom to create strategies that reach both advanced students and those who struggle to be on level. These strategies, combined with relevant classroom examples and practical resources, seamlessly engage students to dig deeper into source material while increasing their understanding." - Sharon Hoolan Ortiz, District Director, Florida Council for Social Studies, and History Department Chair, Fort Pierce Central High School, FL

Table of Contents



Meet the Author


1. Why Document Based Questions?

2. Teaching Students to Distinguish Between Primary and Secondary Sources

3. Teaching Students to Read Texts More Closely

4. Using the SOAPSETone Technique to Teach Students How to Analyze Documents

5. Working with Multiple Texts – Getting Students to Think Critically About the Relationship Between Sources

6. Working with Multiple Texts – Analyzing Texts Using the SOAPSETone Technique

7. Working with Multiple Texts – Integrating Information from Different Types of Sources

8. Responding to DBQs Framed as Multiple-Choice Questions

9. Responding to DBQs Framed as Short-Answer Questions

10. Responding to DBQs Framed as Essay Questions

11. Evaluating Students’ Responses to Document-Based Questions

About the Author

Kevin Thomas Smith has taught a variety of AP subjects, including AP World History, AP European History, and AP U.S. Government and Politics, and is an AP Reader for the College Board. In 2005 and 2006, the Clay County School Board recognized him as an exemplary teacher. In addition to being a teacher, he conducts workshops on text-based questions for elementary, middle, and high schools in his district.

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
EDUCATION / Curricula
EDUCATION / Secondary
EDUCATION / Teaching Methods & Materials / Arts & Humanities
EDUCATION / Professional Development