Before we dive into the three ways to add discussion-based questions to your curriculum, we think it’s really important that you understand what they are and why they are integral to creating a challenging curriculum for your students. Essentially, discussion-based questions (DBQs) are thought-provoking, open-ended questions that can be used in any unit of study. They are not just ELA specific, but can be used in any discipline. Through DBQs, students are encouraged to analyze, evaluate, and synthesize (those Bloom’s Taxonomy levels we’ve always striving for!). In a nutshell, DBQs get students to think – which is what we really want!
Alright, let’s dive in. Here are three ways to incorporate DBQs into any curriculum you are covering (and yes, we use all of these in our classrooms consistently!).
1. Essential Questions:
Seriously, a game changer! If you do not have an overarching essential question for each of your units, you and your kiddos are missing out on some incredible learning. Check out our blog post here that walks you through exactly what Essential Questions are and how to incorporate them into your curriculum.
2. Discussion Task Cards:
We love using these with our short story and novel units, but they can be used with anything! Simply set up your DBQs on small cards and distribute to students for use in a class discussion. It’s up to you how they will interact with the cards – you could do partner discussion, small group discussion and then presentation of the questions, individual responses and then partner share, the possibilities are endless. *Remember, these are NOT simply comprehension questions. These are questions that get students to think about the text and use evidence to support their claims.
Here’s a sample question we used this week with our 5th graders for an informational text article to support the short story, “Thank You, M’am”: In your opinion, what is the author’s strongest piece of evidence he/she uses to support the claim? Why is it the strongest?
When creating your task cards, we suggest having a title (i.e., the title and chapters of the novel that the questions correspond to) and a number on each card. This way, you can easily organize your cards for future use. Laminating them will allow for long-term use in the classroom, too 🙂
If you’re looking for something that’s ready-to-go, feel free to check out the different task card sets we use in our classrooms on a weekly basis. They’re perfect for any novel, poem, short story, or informational text article.
3. Socratic Seminar:
- Do you think Roger has stolen from someone before? Or is this a first-time offense? What quote could you use from the text to support your claim?
- In your opinion, will this experience change Roger’s lifestyle? Do you think he will continue stealing from others, or is he a changed person? Why? What quote from the text makes you think so?