This will be a tutorial on the process I use in order to create a DBQ or an interactive notebook activity.

There have been two processes in which I have used in specifically creating the activities that are used in my Teachers Pay Teachers store. For the majority of the 8th grade activities I used the content and claims based in the scope and sequence created by the Louisiana State Department of Education.

content and claims

As you can see the highlighted with the highlighted text, this addresses the 8th grade standard: 8.4.2 – Describe the causes and effects of cultural diffusion and its impact on diversity in early Louisiana (this standard is focused in the following product Unit 1A – Cultural Diffusion). I will get into how I created the activities for 8th grade in a later post.

Another way of creating DBQ’s and interactive notebook activities is to break down the standard. This method is great for any subject as well as getting to the bones of what the standard is asking. Let’s look at the following 3rd grade content and claims.


As you can see with the highlighted text you have 1 content and claim and 5 standards attached to it. So it is essential to break down the standards in order to make sure you are teaching what essentially is needed for your students to be successful. For this process we will use the following standard: 3.4.7 – Describe the importance of natural resources in Louisiana using maps.

Steps to Breaking Down the Standards:

  1. Identify the Verbs
  2. Identify the Nouns
  3. Identify the standard’s context
  4. Evaluate how it is being assessed

So lets use the steps to break down this standard; Describe the importance of natural resources in Louisiana using maps.

1. Identify the Verbs


In identifying the verbs I usually look for the doing word in the standard. This what the student will be able to do after you have taught your lesson. I also will circle the verb.  In this standard the verb will be describe. Students will have to describe something in the activity. I will typically use a writing activity to achieve this verb.

2. Identify the Nouns


When it comes to nouns I do not get to hung up on the true English definition of a noun. I really look for what the student has to know. For the example, students will need to know the importance of natural resources.  I will usually highlight the nouns.

3. Identify the standard’s context


When I talk about identifying the context, you want to look at what constraints the standard is giving you. Sometimes a standard will not give you a context and you have to infer how to teach it based on assessments. But if the standard does give you a context/constraint then you need to teach the standard accordingly. In our example students will have to focus on  Louisiana and using maps. So a student will have to describe the importance of natural resources but will need to focus on natural resources only in Louisiana and describe the importance using information given to the them on a map or maps.

4. Evaluate How it is Being Assessed

It is best to look at your assessments in order to see how the standard is being assessed. Possible sources could be your teacher made tests, District Unit tests, State Released Test Items. With the new standards and the new way in which they are being assessed, typically this will be assessed with an Item Set, Task Set, or Discrete Items. It will be a given that there will be a map used as the stimulus (maps, graphs, passages, source, etc.) for these multiple choice style questions.

Creating the Activity.

Looking at the grade level (3rd) you will probably need to give some background knowledge, for example, what natural resources Louisiana has and why are natural resources important to Louisiana. Now you have to use the context – maps – in order to create the activity.  As you can see below I created an item set that focuses on using a map as well as answering the standard.


You can get this activity as part of my new 3rd Grade Louisiana History Bundle Unit 1A – Louisiana’s Geography.