After spending a few weeks exploring the different avenues available to me for my DBQ, I am finally on a focused track to the finish. After switching my topic from the more obscure food history topic to the much more document rich Marshall Plan, my issue was not where to find documents, but just the opposite.
There were so many great documents, I found myself following lead after lead on possible directions to take the assignment. While I learned a tremendous amount about the Marshall Plan, the state of Europe after WWII, and the different opinions throughout U.S. and Europe about the plan, I didn’t feel like I was getting any closer to completing the assignment. But I was finding photos, documents, and getting more information. Through this research I was able to narrow my focus and choose an angle on which to focus: the differing views on the Marshall Plan from Europe, Russia, and at home in the U.S.. My next challenge was to step away from the history and just look at the documents. What was I trying to say? What were the documents telling me? I finally focused on assembling documents that could tell a story. Once I had a clear narrative of what I wanted the students to see, the guiding questions practically wrote themselves.
Next up for me is to add the last few pages into iBook Author and begin to fine tune the look and feel. I will have my classmates review the work to ensure the documents and questions create a clear narrative that will guide the students to address the enduring questions of the unit.
This assignment has been exciting for me on two main levels. First learning how to write this type of assignment for my students will be something I will continue to work on throughout my career. I am a big believer in having students think like historians. The other facet is just how much I enjoyed researching the history surrounding the Marshall Plan. Reading all the documents and seeing all the photos was like a DBQ itself. I will continue to practice, learn, and hopefully inspire my students to do the same.