instructions - Big History Project

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INSTRUCTIONS
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BIG HISTORY PROJECT / INTRODUCTION
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The
Big History Project
Introduction
WHAT IS BIG HISTORY?
A social studies course covering 13.8 billion years of shared history.
Big History weaves evidence and insights from many disciplines across 13.8 billion years into a
single, cohesive, science-based origin story. The concept arose from a desire to go beyond
specialized and self-contained fields of study to grasp history as a whole. Big History explores how
we are connected to everything around us and where we may be heading. It provides a foundation
for thinking about the future and the changes that are reshaping our world.
BIG HISTORY PROJECT / INTRODUCTION
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WHAT IS THE BIG HISTORY PROJECT?
A collaborative effort to create a Big History course for teachers everywhere.
• Complete, free curriculum including assessments, lessons, and hundreds of diverse content items.
• A website that provides easy access to course materials for educators and students.
• Training and professional development opportunities.
• Active community of “Big Historians” to keep the course fresh, impactful, and connected.
• Advocacy organization to support schools and districts seeking to deploy the course.
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WHO IS BEHIND THE BIG HISTORY PROJECT?
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Teachers and Schools
The engine behind BHP: The course is built in conjunction with a core set of pilot schools, both
public and independent
2 University of Michigan
Research partner: Manages student data (always anonymous!) and drives course strategy
3 Experts / Guest Lecturers
Broad range of experts on cutting edge of their fields – Walter Alvarez, Janna Levin, Skip Gates,
John Green, and many more share their perspectives throughout the course
4 David Christian and Bill Gates
David Christian was one of the pioneers of Big History, and his college-level course inspired Bill
Gates to explore a collaboration designed to bring Big History to high school students
everywhere.
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OUR GOAL
Big History challenges students to think critically and broadly. We try to ignite a passion for inquiry and
exploration through the development of essential skills and comprehension of our core concepts.
ESSENTIAL SKILLS
CORE CONCEPTS
THINKING ACROSS SCALE
THRESHOLDS
Big History looks beyond human history, exploring connections
among events billions of years ago and our lives today.
In Big History, we think about moments such as when stars first
lit up, the Earth formed, and early humans learned to farm. We
call these thresholds, and they are the milestones in our story.
INTEGRATING MULTIPLE DISCIPLINES
COLLECTIVE LEARNING
By integrating a variety of perspectives into our thinking, we see
human history in new, interconnected ways.
Humans are the only species that can share information over
generations. Through collective learning, we have accelerated
change for humanity and the planet as a whole.
MAKING AND TESTING CLAIMS
ORIGIN STORIES
Today, millions of news outlets are only a click away. Big
History uses a four-step framework for critical thinking that
teaches students to evaluate claims and sources.
People have always asked the big questions: Who are we?
Where we come from? Big History is simply another attempt to
answer these, with a perspective based on modern science.
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WHY OFFER BIG HISTORY?
It’s a unique opportunity to engage students in a powerful learning experience that prepares them for broader, more
integrative thinking.
1. Interdisciplinary: weaves together elements of traditional history, science, and 21st-century skills
2. Common Core aligned: we engineered the course to deliver on CCSS ELA standards for 9th/10th grade
3. Innovative online model: makes distribution easy and engages multiple learning styles
4. Flexible: modular curriculum can be adapted to fit school-specific needs spanning PBL, STEM, ELA, World
History, and more
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BIG HISTORY AT (SAMPLE SCHOOL)
Target grade: 9th/10th elective
Teachers:
Approach: Pre-AP preparatory; designed to prepare students for AP US and World History by
providing background and emphasizing core skill development.
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COURSE STRUCTURE
Total course covers 13.8 billion years of history
Split into two sections
1. Formations and early life: theories and evidence of origins of the Universe, planet
formation, elements, and life.
2. Humans: the development of humans, civilizations, and key milestones in our progress.
Formations and early life (35%)
Pre Course Survey
Assessment 1
BIG HISTORY PROJECT / INTRODUCTION
Humans (65%)
Assessment 2
Assessment 3
Post Course Survey
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SAMPLE CONTENT: VIDEO TALKS
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SAMPLE CONTENT: THRESHOLD VIDEOS
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SAMPLE CONTENT: ANIMATION
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SAMPLE CONTENT: INFOGRAPHICS
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SAMPLE CONTENT: LEVELED TEXT
BHP has teamed up with Newsela to ensure our reading content is accessible across ability levels. Each article offers anywhere from three to
five Lexile levels, so you can provide the instruction each student needs.
Lexile levels for course readings range from about 750 to 1500. We aim for each article to have a base level of 6th or 7th grade.
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SAMPLE CONTENT: COMIC BOOKS
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ARTICLES: INVESTIGATIONS
Each unit of the course includes an inquiry-based assessment activity that asks students to respond to a driving question by drawing
evidence and insights from a selection of readings. These frame some of the big issues tackled in each unit. Students compose essays that
are evaluated for the construction of their argument, use of evidence, understanding of core ideas, and writing mechanics.
TEACHER VERSIONS
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STUDENT VERSIONS
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ARTICLES: PROJECT BASED LEARNING
PBL is a method of instruction that has students take part in an extended inquiry about a complex question, problem, or challenge. The Big
History Project includes three PBL activities. Each is written to cover two weeks of instructional time. Students work in groups to research
their questions, compose a written response, and share their results with their class and the community.
TEACHER VERSIONS
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STUDENT VERSIONS
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ARTICLES: DEBATES
A variety of debates are scattered throughout the course. These provide students an opportunity to research a topic, prepare a statement,
craft arguments, and dialog with one another. Each debate includes a prep worksheet, a debate format guide to help with structure and rubric
for self and peer evaluation.
TEACHER VERSIONS
BIG HISTORY PROJECT / INTRODUCTION
STUDENT VERSIONS
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ARTICLES: CLAIM TESTING
Big History encourages students to develop a thoughtful, consistent and rigorous approach to engaging with and questioning new ideas and
information. Using a four-step framework for critical thinking, Big History teaches students to examine their intuition, and evaluate the
authority, evidence, and logic of claims and sources. A variety of activities throughout the course provide the opportunity for students to apply
these techniques in their thinking, writing, and academic discourse.
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WEBSITE: MAIN PAGE
This page is the front door to the school course, and is where you will land after logging into http://school.bighistoryproject.com. Bookmark it
for future reference, and send students a link to ensure easy access. The timeline shows you the 10 units of the course, arranged
sequentially. Big History is organized around key “thresholds” and these are called out at their respective points.
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WEBSITE: UNIT VIEW
Each unit has its own page, which is divided into rows that represent lessons.
The unit view provides the highlights of each lesson so you can quickly jump to
different content elements, and access them individually.
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WEBSITE: LESSON VIEW
A view of each lesson in its entirety is available, with videos,
articles, and activities. Each is available to view on the site or
as a download, and has inline guidance and teaching advice.
Student and teacher versions are available.
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WEBSITE: TEACHER COMMUNITY
When you start teaching Big History, you
join a dynamic, global community of
educators who are working toward the
same goals. It’s a complex course and
there is no reason for each teacher to
reinvent the wheel.
In the Big History Project Teacher
Community, you’ll be able to share lesson
plans, course structure ideas, and your
suggestions for improving the course.
Simply click the Community tab and
request an invite.
Click to Live community site
PILOT PROGRAM
OUR SCHOOL’S RESPONSIBILITIES
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Deliver a full Big History course
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Actively provide feedback to Big History Project team to improve the
course
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Administer light assessment program to help validate course impact
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Be a sponsor and advocate for the program as needed in our region
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PILOT PROGRAM
ASSESSMENT PROGRAM
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All assessments are “opt in” for students via simple consent form
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Three student perception surveys to gauge their reactions to the
course
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Three lightweight (1,250-word) writing samples
All data is made anonymous and managed under strict supervision of
the University of Michigan, with extremely high levels of privacy
protection.
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DOES IT WORK?
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Student interest in the course is strong due
to unique, innovative content, and
compelling “big story.”
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Turnkey lesson plans and assets make
teacher prep easy, and improves effective
instruction for students.
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Focus on healthy debate and “claim testing”
improves student engagement while
helping to hone critical thinking and
presentation skills.
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Strong growth in both content knowledge ,
skills and perception of self-capacity
achieved in a wide variety of learning
environments.
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Big History’s emphasis on interpretation of
past events with an eye to implications for
the future prepares students to meet the
challenges of tomorrow.
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Development of argumentative writing skills
prepares students for AP and other collegereadiness exams.
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Extremely flexible format and approach
enables teachers to meet key standards
and outcomes while serving their specific
school and student needs.
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GO DEEPER
David Christian’s TED talk
Check out the site (you can register!)
Learn more about Bill Gates’ participation
Follow Big History Project
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THANK YOU
BIG HISTORY PROJECT / INTRODUCTION

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