Fresh Batch of DBQ’s!

By Kate Boyd & John Quirk

Calling all Social Studies Teachers! As you begin to think about returning to the classroom, please consider using a document-based question from this Fresh Batch!

Those of us working in Digital Collections spend our days providing access to rare and unique materials from the various Special Collection libraries on campus. We often marvel at the potential educational value of the digitized primary source materials. We have long sought to broaden the awareness of our digital collections to elementary school and high school teachers and encourage them to incorporate some of these materials into their lesson plans.

In 2017, Digital Collections and the S.C. State Department of Education’s Social Studies Coordinators received funding from the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC) for a Literacy and Engagement with Historical Records grant. This grant funded three workshops for a total of forty-five teachers to write document-based questions using the Libraries and SC Digital Library’s digital collections. The workshops were conducted during the Summers of 2017 and 2018 with great success.

Thanks to a lot of support and help from Social Studies teachers, coordinators, and outside reviewers, we are finally at the stage of making these resources available online. The S.C. State Department of Education’s Social Studies Associates assisted throughout the project. Carolina Yetman and Lewis Huffman wrote the grant with USC Libraries’ Digital Collections. Jeff Eargle and Elizabeth King conducted the first workshop; and Stephen Corsini assisted with the last workshop and final stages of the grant. Three outside reviewers (Greg Grupe, Fay Gore, and Franky Abbott) with pedagogical backgrounds in K12, reviewed all the DBQs to ensure their integrity and Elizabeth King made sure they are up to the 2020 Social Studies standards. We were lucky to have the same excellent teacher, Matt Rose of Lexington Richland 5, teach the teachers for all three workshops.  Thank you, Matt! Also, thanks to those teachers that attended the Middle School and Social Studies conferences to share their work. We hope teachers across the country will use these to engage students in learning about South Carolina history.

The DBQ’s are presented in the South Carolina Digital Academy, a web-based resource, hosted by the University of South Carolina, that makes it easy to browse by grade level and subject matter. The lesson plans incorporate a wide variety of digitized materials such as maps, correspondence, photographs, moving images, posters and more. These types of primary source materials can bring history to life for students, giving them a window into the thoughts and feelings of generations past. By providing divergent view points and opinions in contemporary materials they encourage critical thinking. These tangible connections to the past can also create empathy for students who might otherwise feel distanced from it.

The S.C Digital Academy portal acts as a detailed catalog for the DBQ’s featuring easily accessible standards, vocabulary, time required, questions, contextual information and support materials. Each entry links to downloadable pdf documents that are designed to help make it easy for teachers to incorporate digitized primary resources into their classroom activities.

We are in the process of adding forty-four DBQs to the site, so check back frequently to see what is new. Some of the ones just up: