Big History Teacher, 11th & 12th Grade
Teaching Big History is a daunting task for freshman and veteran teachers alike. The amount of information that needs to be conveyed to students, the essential questions and extensive thinking required throughout the course challenges teachers well-versed in best practices. In knowing all of this, how do you tackle one of the most comprehensive and thought-provoking curriculum ever created? You need to listen to yourself and your students.
When teaching any new curriculum, teachers must start by taking a realistic assessment of their own skills and abilities. You will need to harvest all of your resources in order to create a course that properly addresses the breadth of material in Big History. Begin by searching through the online curriculum and find places where you will need support. Then, reach out to your colleagues for advice and resources they may have. For a great overview, read Big History: From Nothing to Everything or This Fleeting World, both of which are by David Christian. If you are searching for a more comprehensive narrative, check out Maps of Time: An Introduction to Big History by David Christian. This book will provide support for the portions of the content where you may feel a bit shaky.
Additionally, you can scour the BHP Online Teacher Community site. The Big History Yammer community is the perfect place to look for resources from other teachers and ask questions. The Big History community is more than willing to support its teachers in any way possible. If you have questions, want others to review new assignments, or are searching for project suggestions, the online community is the perfect place to begin.
The last piece of the puzzle is to make sure that you include real-world current news-worthy topics in the content. Students consistently sink their teeth into anything that is applicable to their daily life. Do not forget to allow students the freedom to make connections to the world around them. Build in time for students to analyze current events by digging into Newsela’s BHP page, listening to or reading NPR, or exploring any other news outlet. This helps to enhance the standard curriculum and assists in creating lasting knowledge that will only enhance your students’ education in the future.
Overall, if you can only devote your energies to one thing at a time, you are miles ahead of the pack. After three years of teaching BH, I find new things to add or adapt each semester. I constantly change my pacing guide and dig up new resources based on student needs. While Big History offers immense support, it also provides teachers the freedom and flexibility to showcase their talents. Remember to let the content topics that you enjoy shine through, and always remain willing to adapt and learn. This course is meant to provide an opportunity for students to grow their knowledge base. Take on the challenge and grow yours as well. You will be thrilled with the results.
Start your journey as a BH teacher, visit the Big History Project website to register for a free teacher account and access to our curriculum.