DBQ Leveled Writing System

Rated 4.9 out of 5, based on 10 reviews
10 Ratings
Kasha Mastrodomenico
Grade Levels
6th - 8th
Resource Type
Formats Included
  • Zip
17 pages
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Kasha Mastrodomenico


"When is the next time we're going to do another leveled writing?" I hear this questions all the time. My students are excited about writing DBQs and it is because of this system!

Included in this system is a manual about DBQs, leveled writing templates for grades 6-8, CFA templates with rubrics, and ELL leveled writing templates for grades 6-8.

Purpose of the DBQ Essay Leveled Writing System

The DBQ Essay Leveled Writing System is a UDL, Universal Design for Learning, systematic process. The DBQ Leveled Writing System allows a student to achieve small goals in the expository writing process. A student focuses on a single skill on each level. Students increase their critical thinking skills and back their opinions with reasoning and evidence in an organized manner to prepare them for college and most professional career paths.

Bringing the Common Core Curriculum into the Social Studies Classroom

The DBQ Essay Leveled Writing System helps teachers bring in the Common Core Standards by analyzing and writing about primary and secondary sources.

Intervention for RTI, SST or Special Education

The most important part of the RTI (Response to Intervention) process, SST (Student Support Team) process, or the special education progress reports is that the improvement a student is making can be measured for each intervention. The DBQ Leveled Writing System uses small steps to help students reach the goal of writing either a paragraph or an essay. After the student has achieved at one level, they move up to the next. With the DBQ Leveled Writing System, it is easy to show growth or stagnation.

ELL Accommodation

English language learners need to be exposed to content vocabulary and sentence structure. The DBQ Essay Leveled Writing System supports both by providing content related questions and sentence structure support. It also reinforces grammar by having the student identify nouns, verbs and adjectives.

The DBQ Essay Leveled Writing System’s Directions for Teachers

1. Assign students a Historical Data CFA, Common Formative Assessment, at the beginning of the year as a baseline assessment. Have students keep this in their writing binder so they can see their growth throughout the year. Start students on the level each earned according to the Historical Data CFA.

2. During the first week of school, have students create a writing passport with a page for each continent. The writing levels are associated with a continent to reinforce geography content. When a student moves up a level, the teacher can stamp their passport or write a note in it.

3. Use Leveled Writing assignments as exit tickets, common formative assessments, in-class individual assignments, homework or review.

4. Alternate between a CFA and a Leveled Writing assignment every two weeks. The student will learn from writing and redoing their Leveled Writing assignment one week, then the next week they can be assessed with a CFA to ensure they learned the skill.

  • Each student will focus on a specific writing skill at each level which decreases grading time for the teacher.
  • The teacher must write notes to the student about how that student can improve their writing when they correct their leveled writing. Teachers do not need to write notes on a CFA.
  • The teacher must encourage students to redo leveled writing assignments until they reach a 10/10. Students will learn from fixing their mistakes. Teachers can pull small groups of struggling students and redo it with them. Redoing assignments is an integral part of the leveled writing system.
  • A student should not move up a level until they have mastered the current level with a 10/10 on the first try and without help from others. The teacher may choose to move students up if they have minor spelling or grammar issues. The teacher must use their best judgment. Do not move a student up if they are not ready.
  • Another way a student can move up a level is if they obtain a score of 3 or 4 on a CFA that focuses on the specific skill for the level they are on. For example, if a student is on level one and they take the CCSS.ELA-Literacy.WHST.6-8.1.A CFA and score a 3 or 4, they could go up two levels because they will have proved that they understand how to write a thesis statement and a mini-claim. The teacher must decide whether to allow a redo for a CFA. As with the Leveled Writing assignment, a student cannot move up a level with a redo.
  • The last way a student can move up is by writing a DBQ essay. Check for the skill the student is working on by checking their level on the progress chart. If they prove their knowledge of a skill, check for the next skill as well. It is possible for a student to skip multiple levels.
  • A little treat is nice for an individual going up a level. It could be a postcard home, an email home, a phone call home, or a jolly rancher taped onto their paper, or my favorite a celebration with an award certificate. When a student moves up, the teacher should announce it to the class as an achievement, and the class should clap for them. If the teacher decides to hang the passports on the wall, the student who moved up can move their passport to the next level. The ceremony reinforces the importance of writing.
  • When the entire class moves up to the next level, they should get a reward. They could watch a movie about the next continent they could travel to or do something healthy like play a game of kickball.
  • The teacher must track student progress with the progress chart. Teachers can track levels for each class on their bulletin board too.
  • Another option is to create a wall to hang passports on. When they move up, they can move their passports.

6. How to create an assignment: The instructions in red are for the teacher. Replace them with the content needed.

Please look at the preview before purchasing this product. It is a zip file. Please do not buy this if you don't know how to open a zip file. These are templates and must be filled in by the teacher.

Total Pages
17 pages
Answer Key
Teaching Duration
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to see state-specific standards (only available in the US).
Write arguments focused on discipline-specific content.
Write informative/explanatory texts, including the narration of historical events, scientific procedures/experiments, or technical processes.
Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience.
With some guidance and support from peers and adults, develop and strengthen writing as needed by planning, revising, editing, rewriting, or trying a new approach, focusing on how well purpose and audience have been addressed.


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