Here is a lesson that was quite successful last year in getting the students familiar with grouping and analyzing documents. You can find the graphic organizers and evaluation forms (as well as a printable copy of this lesson) here.
1) small plastic buckets (or large Styrofoam cups), 3-4 for each group of students
2) markers to write on buckets
3) A DBQ for each student, and one DBQ with the documents cut apart as individual cards.
4) Bucket List DBQ Worksheets
5) Peer Evaluation forms and Self Evaluation forms
Divide class into groups of 3-4 students. If differentiating, make sure groups combine students of each learning style. Each group gets:
• one set of individual documents Divide class into groups of 3-4 students.
• the full DBQ for each student • 3-4 buckets, markers
• Bucket List DBQ worksheet #1 for each student
Post the DBQ prompt on the whiteboard or overhead (and the Historical Background, if there is one.)
Day one: In small groups, students read the prompt and decide what it is asking for (parse the prompt). Then they discuss each document individually and decide how it answers the prompt. In these discussions they should group the documents by some criteria relevant to the prompt. This involves placing the documents in buckets and labeling each bucket. The group will need to explain how each bucket label is relevant to the prompt. When all documents are placed in buckets, each student needs to fill out a Bucket List DBQ worksheet #1.
Day two: Now students break out of their groups and work individually. The goal is to craft a thesis statement and begin to construct the paragraphs based on the buckets (“pour each bucket into a paragraph”). Students should work on turning their bucket labels into topic sentences, then summarizing each document and telling how it answers the prompt. This is informal essay writing time; they should be allowed to ask each other question and get feedback from the teacher. Homework is to finish the essay at home and bring it in the next day.
Day Three: Peer grading. Copy the DBQ Peer Evaluation sheet. Each one cuts in half to make two. Students grade a random essay from someone else in the class using this sheet. Then two people exchange the essays they just graded and grade one more without letting the next grader see what the first grader gave it. Each essay has been peer graded by two people. The two people share the grades they gave it and discuss any rubric differences in their grading. Pass essays back to the essay writer along with the two peer evaluations. Now each student has their DBQ and two peer evaluation forms. Homework: Each student rewrites the essay being careful to fix any rubric points they lost on their first attempt.
Day Four: Students use the DBQ Self Evaluation form to grade their own essay. This should only take 10 minutes or so. Take up essays with Self Evaluation forms and check to see that students are correctly getting the thesis, POV and Additional Document. (Student will have identified the places on their essay where they THINK they are doing this.)
And there it is. My students rated this as one of the most important lessons for teaching essays on their end-of-the-year surveys last year. Additionally, DBQ scores went up. Hope you find it helpful