Reflecting on the DBQ Assignment


The goal of my DBQ project was for students to gain an appreciation for how one’s perceptions of an event can be manipulated through media. The idea was for students to examine a variety of items, identify the techniques employed in conveying the message, and evaluate whether or not the techniques were effective. After investigating the media content within the lesson, students would apply what they learned by curating a series of media items that depict a certain perspective in a contemporary conflict.

Reading my original proposal for the project, I feel the final product achieves the goals I initially set forth. The lesson contains a variety of media types (print, posters, photos) and each example is accompanied by a set of questions that challenge students to do more than just identify what they see. I’m pleased with what I created because it approaches the study of history through a different lens. I can see this being more enjoyable than reading a history text or listening to lecture on a more traditional topic.

Though I am pleased with what I created, reservations do exist. This product has yet to be used. I don’t know how students or educators will react. Will they learn or appreciate the material I put forth? Will they find it engaging? It’s hard to say; especially since this was the first DBQ project I created. Teachers must always reflect and adapt. The project I created feels like a solid first step, but I want it to be used so I know how to make it better.

Once I decided upon a topic, the process was straightforward. However, I did run into one hurdle: curating the media. Selecting relevant pieces was challenging and time consuming. There is so much iconic media from the Vietnam era, but not all it was applicable to my objective. Using the wrong piece could lead to confusion and undermine what students are supposed to take away from the lesson.

A link to the final product on Learnist: Media & War

Image Credit: Louisiana State University Library 

LSU student Luana Henderson participated in a peaceful protest against the Vietnam War held in 1970 on the LSU campus. The poster behind her refers to the killing of four students by National Guardsmen during a protest that turned violent at Kent State University in Ohio. University Archives, LSU Public Relations.

This DBQ is part of our class-produced, multi-touch iBook. Available free at iTunes

Now and Then: Comparing life in old Japantown to students’ lives today


Japanese Community Queens Court, 1931.

Writing lesson plans for elementary students was simple. The kids lack the cognitive development of secondary students, so one does not have to bother with exploring abstract ideas. Instead, the lessons can be more basic and focus on developing skills students will rely upon as they progress through school and life. I had two goals when writing my lessons: don’t bore the students, and let them create something.

The Lessons
Both lessons were designed to be used in conjunction with the photographs included the Nikkei Center’s traveling suitcases. One lesson is targeted at lower elementary, the other at upper. Both lessons challenge students to analyze what they see in the photographs, make connections between the past and their lives, and create a product demonstrating their understanding. Overviews of the lessons and links to PDFs are provided below.

Lower Elementary:
This lesson offers students a chance to develop their critical thinking skills and make connections between their community and the Japanese community that existed in Portland in the first half of the 20th century. Students will draw where they live, examine the photographs in the suitcase, create a second drawing depicting life in Japantown, and finish by comparing their two pieces and presenting their findings to the class.

Comparing Community

Upper Elementary:
In this lesson students will explore how personal experience can vary based on the community in which you live. Students will imagine they live in Portland’s old Japantown. They will examine the photographs in the suitcase to develop an interpretation of life there during the early 20th century. Using what they learned, students will write a letter to a friend describing their life in Japantown.

Letter to a Friend

Image credit:  These girls are the Japanese Community Queens Court, voted for by the Japanese community, 1931. From left: Emi Somekawa, Frances Maeda, Fumie Marumoto (queen), Chizuko Inouye, and Takako Saito. The queen and princesses ride on the Japanese community’s float in the Rose Festival floral parade.

Oregon Nikkei Endowment on Flickr

Media and War

My DBQ assignment asks students to answer the following question:

How does media impact our perception of war?

Students will view and analyze media from the Vietnam War era to answer this question. First, in order to build some content knowledge and context, students will watch a film that surveys the major events and themes of the war.

We will then move to the analysis of photographs, advertisements, speeches and letters that support the war effort. Students will look for commonalities in themes, emotions, and methodologies, as well as judge the effectiveness of the various media types. The process will then be repeated with anti-war media.

Applying their freshly-gained media savvy, students will then curate a slideshow of media depicting a contemporary conflict. They must take a position in the conflict, select media supporting that position, present their slideshow to the class, and explain why they selected each image, video, or text.


Vietnam War Protesters

  • Description: Vietnam War protesters. 1967. Wichita, Kansas, 1967
  • Source: US Archiv ARCWEB ARC Identifier: 283627

9/9/13: Reflecting on Reflecting

During the early stages of learning a new skill or piece of information, I always like to take in as many views as possible. I recognize my mind has certain tendencies and limitations that might prevent me from understanding something fully, and what might be obvious for one person might never cross my mind. That’s why the lesson plan study we took part in was so beneficial. Listening to how others approached lesson planning helped to fill in some of the gaps I had. By reconciling my approach with those of my class mates, I gained a more holistic perspective.