Kathy Hays, Big History Teacher
Arizona, USA

STRIVE FOR FIVE! That’s our new motto each time we initiate a Unit Investigation. BHP Score has transformed how I teach writing, and how my students approach the writing process. I used to spend weeks grading the Investigations, and by the time they were returned, students had completely forgotten everything about it—my feedback on their writing was shoved into a backpack, never to be seen again. BHP Score, on the other hand, returns constructive feedback much faster and on a more detailed level than I could ever manage with more than 120 students. Since the Investigation writing prompt is still fresh in my students’ minds when they get their Score reports, they have a vested interest in revising and improving their work.

Sample BHP Score class report

My students have now received BHP Score reports for Investigations 2 and 6. In both cases, I’ve built lessons around the reports. After receiving reports for the Unit 2 Investigation, we went over the comments as a class. As students worked on their revisions, I conducted individual meetings to review their modifications. After a peer exchange and review, students wrote final drafts. It was the first time I had taken students through the entire writing process, allowing them to see the progress from first draft to final copy.

As we approached Unit 6, I wanted to craft a lesson that would build even more student investment in the BHP Writing Rubric, and prime them for making revisions to their writing. I was also curious to see how student evaluations of Investigations would compare to those of the BHP Score evaluators. After students submitted Investigation 6 (and were waiting for BHP Score reports to be returned), I printed off a batch of essays (names removed) for students to grade against the BHP Writing Rubric. A few days later, we received the BHP Score evaluations of the same essays. I had students compare their evaluations with the BHP Score ones—it turns out the scores were pretty close! Some students were confused as to why an essay had received a score of “3” when they thought it should receive a “4.” We took time to address questions and ensure everyone was on the same page before I turned them loose to craft a final version of Investigation 6. Using the feedback from BHP Score allowed students to produce quality final drafts.

At some point during the writing process of Investigation 6, we decided to “Strive for Five” on future writing assignments. Advice provided by the BHP Score team in the monthly Writing Exchange in the BHP Online Teacher Community has helped equip me with valuable teaching strategies to help my students. We incorporated the new strategies into the Unit 8 Investigation and saw scores improve significantly. I highly recommend joining the ASU Writing Exchange on Yammer for the monthly words of wisdom.

As we approach Investigation 9, everyone is anxious to “Strive for Five”! Thanks to BHP Score, students now have a vested interest in their writing.

About the author: Kathy Hays has been teaching for 30 years, and this year is her second teaching Big History. She teaches five BHP classes a year, and so reaches about 130 ninth-grade students. Her school is on a semester schedule with daily 52-minute periods. Kathy’s favorite thing about teaching Big History is the opportunity to learn with her students!

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