Kayla Cook, BHP Teacher
California, USA

Note from BHP Team: This blog post is part of a new series featuring BHP classrooms around the world. Stay tuned for more! 

Briefly describe your BHP classroom/school setting (how many students, how often do you meet, for example)
I teach 20 sophomores for first period world history. I have half of the sophomores, and another teacher is with the other cohort. We are both using BHP to teach this year. Our school is on a block schedule, so we will be completing all of world history in a single semester

Describe your BHP classroom in three words.
Engaging, rigorous, expeditious

What’s your favorite BHP activity/article/video? Why?
I really enjoy the snap judgment activities. Students continue to see growth each time we revisit the activity for a different unit. This week, we completed the collective learning snap judgment [Lesson 6.2]. it was amazing to see the students use their claim testers to justify their responses—this time, without any prompting. This activity always leads to great academic discourse and gets the students excited to learn more

How, if at all, has BHP changed your approach to instruction?
BHP has made me realize how powerful independent learning activities can be. Initially, it was difficult for me to give up instructional time to allow students to explore on their own. Now, I see how these opportunities make the lessons much more engaging and impactful. When we come back together to have whole class discussions, the discourse is made more meaningful by the supplementary activities and videos.

What’s the most interesting impact BHP has had on your students?
The most interesting impact I have seen on students is how fast our class culture solidified. This is a new population of students for me this semester. Despite the rigorous content and fast pace, we are able to bring a lot of joy to each class; I give credit to all of the opportunities for class discussions and partnered activities that have allowed us to get to know each other.

What’s the best BHP-related question you’ve heard a student ask recently?
We completed the Historos Cave activity from Unit 6 last week. My students had many wonderful questions they wanted to ask as anthropologists, archaeologists, geologists, or paleontologists. They made many great inferences based on the evidence provided, but I was equally impressed with the questions they still wanted answered. What was the climate like? What was their social structure? What did a typical day consist of? What type of rock composed their tools and the cave? These were a few of the questions they came up with in their interdisciplinary teams.

What’s something you’re hoping to try in your BHP classroom next year?
The timeline activity from the beginning of the course. I think our conversations on scale would have benefited greatly if we had taken the time to complete this

What book are you currently reading?
Culturally Responsive Teaching and the Brain: Promoting Authentic Engagement and Rigor Among Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Students, by Zaretta L. Hammond

What piece of advice would you give to incoming “BHP newbies”?
Be humble and do not be afraid to let the students know you are learning with them!

Kayla Cook in person

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