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Teaching & Learning with Documents

Document-based questions have always been used on the College Board Examinations and are currently used by various state education agencies, so it is increasingly important for students to have the skills to effectively complete these assignments. If gained in primary schooling, these skills can aid students in later schooling including specialized high school programs and even college. This course will deal directly with the use, understanding, and application of documents in the classroom for the purpose of increasing student understanding, encouraging analytical skills and maximizing performance. The focus will be on exploring the skills necessary to make classroom exercises, activities and assessment using documents and the document based questions successful and productive. Teachers will learn to address how to differentiate instruction based on available documents and assess students using document based questions.


Carlow University ED 695 • Madonna University EDU 5830.45 • Mercy University EDUT 551

The required text for this course is Asking the Right Questions: A Guide to Critical Thinking, 12th Edition, by Neil Browne.

ISBN: 978-0134425610

Graduate participants earn 3 semester hours of graduate credit and will receive a transcript from one of our partner institutions below. Professional development participants will receive a certificate of completion for 45 hours of professional developments credit for face-to-face classes and 60 hours of professional development credit for online classes.

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Course Schedule

  • 2/13/24 - 5/14/24
  • 4/9/24 - 7/9/24
  • 6/11/24 - 9/10/24
  • 8/13/24 - 11/12/24
  • 10/8/24 - 1/14/25
  • 12/10/24 - 3/11/25

Session 1: An Introduction to Document and Data Based Learning


  • Member introductions
  • Individual and group expectations
  • Course sessions, resources and requirements
  • Identification of the different types of documents used in educational settings
  • The purpose of Document Based Questions and Activities.
  • Using the Document Based Question in conjunction with already mastered content
  • Assignments

Session 2: Primary versus Secondary Sources


  • Defining a document
  • Examining the role of document based questions and activities for the purpose of assessment of student’s knowledge and skills
  • Exploring Cartoons, Maps, Graphs, Political Cartoons, Diaries and Videos
  • How to differentiate between primary and secondary source documents and their respective role in research and instruction.
  • How to analyze a primary source
  • How to analyze a  secondary sources
  • How to compare and contrast like sources
  • Assignments

Session 3: Document Bias


  • Identifying the Point of View in documents
  • Identifying the Origin of the Document
  • Identifying whether the documents used are Valid or Hearsay
  • Focus on the importance of document bias
  • Comparing historian bias and introducing satire
  • Assignments

Session 4: Developing Appropriate Questions Related to Documents


  • Developing questions that encourage analytical skills
  • Introducing Document Based questions that require use of previous knowledge and information
  • Appraising both Scaffolding and free synthesis of the document
  • Evaluating guided reading as a helpful tool to document based unit
  • Improve literacy and writing skills of students
  • Assignments

Session 5: Using Photographs for Instruction and Assessment


  • Analyzing a photograph.   
  • What types of photographs are appropriate for the content and grade level
  • Evaluating how are photographs manipulated
  • Utilizing the quadrant technique for analyzing a photograph
  • Assignments

Session 6: Integrating Cartoons as Documents


  • Analysis of cartoons
  • Evaluating the satire and bias in political cartoons
  • Acquiring skills to critique and analyze humorous cartoons
  • Assessing the Value of Satire in the curriculum for older grades
  • Assignments

Session 7: Utilizing Charts, Graphs, Pie charts in the Document Based Assessment and Activities


  • Developing ways to help student comprehension of Graphs and charts.
  • Utilizing graphs and charts on the document based assessment.
  • Utilizing Graphs and Charts as a tool for assessment
  • Assignments

Session 8: Video and Audio Clips as a Document


  • Utilizing Video Clips as a document
  • How to scaffold response to a video clip
  • How to integrate video and audio clips into activities
  • Assessing the Value of Satire in video for older grades
  • Assignments

Session 9: How to Create a Document Based Question/Unit or Activity


  • Identifying a theme or centralized topic
  • Coordinating the desired content
  • Diversifying the document based series based on multiple intelligence and differentiated instruction
  • Proposing student creation of document based activities
  • Assignments

Session 10: Incorporating Documents into Lessons and Exams


  • Grouping various documents with a common theme to create a document based question or activity
  • Designing assessment tools, strategies and activities through the synthesis of documents
  • Final project: Creation of a document based assessment tool
  • Identify the different types of documents used in educational settings.
  • Examine the role of document based questions and activities for the purpose of assessment of student’s knowledge and skills.
  • Research different types of grade appropriate document activities and instruction.
  • Determine how the use of critical and analytical skills can be enhanced via document based activities.
  • Improve literacy and writing skills of students.
  • Design assessment tools, strategies and activities through the synthesis of documents.
  • Assemble a host of resources and tools that they can use during daily instruction.
  • Differentiate between primary and secondary source documents and their respective role in research and instruction.
  • Appraise specific documents that encourage mastery and enrichment of content areas.
  • Examine the use and impact of videos as a type of document.
  • Create and organize document based questions, activities, and units.
  • Collect and employ document based resources to integrate into curriculum.
  • Develop classroom activities that will encourage student creation on document based activities.
Partner Universities

Our Partners are well-established regionally and nationally accredited colleges and universities, recognized for academic excellence and their commitment to teachers.

Important Information

Online 3-graduate credit courses are 13 weeks in length.

On-site weekend courses are held Friday evening from 6:00pm-9:00pm and Saturday/Sunday, 8:30am-5:30pm.

Weekday courses are Monday-Friday from 8:00am- 6:00pm.

It is the responsibility of the student to check with their state, county, district, or school to ensure that all requirements are being met by the course you're taking.  

Check the Partner Universities page for specific university information as well as course numbers which are specific to the university partner. 

Students are required to purchase their own textbook, the information for which can be found here. If no book is required it will be specified on the list. We have copies of many of the textbooks should you wish to purchase directly from TEI. 

Professional development (PD) participants receive a certificate of completion from TEI for 45 hours of PD credit for face to face classes and 60 hours of PD credit for online classes. These certificates are mailed within one week of the end of the class and reflect the course title, dates of attendance, and credit hour information. 

Student Academic Integrity
Participants guarantee that all academic class work is original. Any academic dishonesty or plagiarism (to take ideas, writings, etc. from another and offer them as one's own), is a violation of student academic behavior standards as outlined by our partnering colleges and universities and is subject to academic disciplinary action.