A World History Document-Based Question (DBQ) on Civilization and the Neolithic Revolution

A few weeks ago, I decided I had to have all my American Government and World History students write some sort of paper before we adjourned for a long winter break. While they're most important for leading learners to think about the world, I believe social studies disciplines are also very important for leading learners to write about the world. Not only is effective writing a critical skill in most any walk of life, but writing about the world can lead you to think about it better too!

early Mesopotamian writing tablet
(British Museum)
I chose to give my World History students a document-based question (DBQ) so that they could focus on analyzing a small set of teacher-selected sources, rather than spout off aimlessly about a topic off the top of their head or get lost in the wide world of the internet with a research assignment. I then created the DBQ myself, since resources in the area are slim. (I do, however, have to give credit to this teacher's DBQ, which I used one source from, as well as other sources of inspiration like the British Museum.)

Fair warning—four of the eleven sources in my DBQ relate to Southeast Alaska and the question of whether the Native societies there (Tlingit, Haida, and Tsimshian) could be classified as "civilizations," even though they did not go through the Neolithic Revolution as such. Many teachers shouldn't consider this a critical issue to have their students address, but I felt that my students (all of whom have at least some Tlingit, Haida, and/or Tsimshian heritage) should have the opportunity to explore this question.

Here's the link to a PDF of the DBQ. (If you click on the link and it doesn't work, please send me an email at pws.ktn.ak@gmail.com and I'll send you the file.) Feel free to use as much or as little of it as you please. Just give me a hat-tip here or on Twitter!

I just received the students' finished papers today, so I haven't read through them yet or judged the success of my assignment, but I just thought I'd pass on the resource I created. Best wishes to all you other history teachers out there on the internet.

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