HUSD “Superstar Teacher” recognized for her innovative and successful work with students

HEMET, Calif. — Rancho Viejo Middle School’s eighth-grade social science instructor Samia Muhareb was recently featured as a “Superstar Teacher” in SMORE, an educational blog celebrating classroom success using the Document-Based Question (DBQ) learning model. 

The DBQ model provides a method of teaching evidence-based, argument writing so students can learn the skills of primary source document analysis, gain historical thinking skills, and ultimately learn how to write an argumentative essay using evidence from documents they have analyzed, according to Hemet Unified School District’s Alexandria Sponheim.

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HUSD has been using the DBQ curriculum to supplement core adoptions in middle and high school history-social science and this year the District added the online version to support virtual learning. 

DBQ questions are commonly seen on Advanced Placement (AP) Exams and other competitive assessment tests, like the English Language Arts (ELA) portion of the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC) test. 

Eighth-grade Rancho Viejo Middle School social science instructor Samia Muhareb was recently featured as a “Superstar Teacher” in SMORE, an educational blog celebrating classroom success using the Document-Based Question (DBQ) learning model. HUSD photo

Muhareb, who almost became a lawyer, has worked to incorporate her love for law into her teaching, according to Sponheim. She even calls her unit on the Constitution “Law School,” and part of passing law school is completing the Constitution Mini-Q, SMORE wrote in their educational blog honoring her achievements.

There are so many amazing things about DBQ Online, but if I had to pick one top item I like the best it is the feedback,” she said of the DBQ learning model; adding that she regularly uses the Spanish Toggle, the Audio Read Aloud, Document Analysis Form, the Guided Essay, and the Essay Builder in her DBQ lessons.

According to Muhareb, she particularly likes having the ability to add her own mark-ups prior to assigning a lesson; saying, “I love the teacher mark-up tool! It should be called the ‘teacher magic tool’.

“I was able to use the sticky notes as directions …and… my students knew when they see certain color sticky notes it means something,” explained Muhareb. “For example, blue is a specific direction they needed to complete on the document, a green sticky note meant vocabulary, etc.”

“The stickers are super fun and students look forward to logging in to see if they got a sticker,” Muhareb continued. “I love the pre-made comments and the fact I can add my own comments to the bank.”

“It is so easy and quick, I can actually go through all my students’ ‘packets’ and leave some feedback,” Muhareb explained; adding, “I noticed I got better student products because I was able to check the documents in real-time, leave feedback, and give students the opportunity to fix their mistakes.”

Additionally, she said the online program has enabled her to have more touchpoints with student work.

“I noticed I got better student products because I was able to check the documents in real-time, leave feedback, and give students the opportunity to fix their mistakes,” Muhareb said.

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For teachers and others considering the DBQ model, Muhareb said, “The advice I would give teachers using DBQ Online is to take quality over quantity.”

“There is so much you can do but start small and get comfortable with all the features before jumping in and trying them all at once,” Muhreb continued.

“Maybe focus on annotating documents with mark-up tools the first time around and use the feedback. Next time, add the essay builder,” Muhareb added. “Take it at a speed you are comfortable with. And always reach out if you need help or have a question. Their support is quick and friendly.”


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Contact the writer: trevor.rcns@gmail.com

Trevor Montgomery, 49, moved in 2017 to the Intermountain area of Shasta County from Riverside County and runs Riverside County News Source (RCNS) and Shasta County News Source (SCNS). Additionally, he writes or has written for several other news organizations; including Riverside County-based newspapers Valley News, Valley Chronicle, Anza Valley Outlook, and Hemet & San Jacinto Chronicle; the Bonsall/Fallbrook Village News in San Diego County; and Mountain Echo in Shasta County. He is also a regular contributor to Thin Blue Line TV and Law Enforcement News Network.

Trevor spent 10 years in the U.S. Army as an Orthopedic Specialist before joining the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department in 1998. He was medically retired after losing his leg, breaking his back, and suffering both spinal cord and brain injuries in an off-duty accident. (Click here to see segment of Discovery Channel documentary of Trevor’s accident.)

During his time with the sheriff’s department, Trevor worked at several different stations; including Robert Presley Detention Center, Southwest Station in Temecula, Hemet/Valle Vista Station, Ben Clark Public Safety Training Center, and Lake Elsinore Station; along with other locations.

Trevor’s assignments included Corrections, Patrol, DUI Enforcement, Boat and Personal Water-Craft based Lake Patrol, Off-Road Vehicle Enforcement, Problem Oriented Policing Team, and Personnel/Background Investigations. He finished his career while working as a Sex Crimes and Child Abuse Investigator and was a court-designated expert in child abuse and child sex-related crimes.

Trevor has been married for more than 30 years and was a foster parent to more than 60 children over 13 years. He is now an adoptive parent and his “fluid family” includes 13 children and 18 grandchildren.

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