Kathy Hays, BHP Teacher
Arizona, USA

A Note from BHP:We’re tapping into our greatest BHP asset– teachers like you! Check out the BHP blog weekly for new Teaching diaries from two veteran BHP teachers, Erik Christensen and Kathy Hays. Journey with them through the 13.8 billion years of successes and challenges, and hopefully, feel a little more connected to your BHP professional community.

Unit 2: Changing Views Timeline

I’m so excited about this week in Big History! It’s loaded with my favorite BHP activities. We’re beginning with Lesson 2.1’s Changing Views Timeline and finishing up with my absolute favorite activity, What Do You Know? What Do You Ask? 

The Changing Views Timeline takes students from the geocentric views of Ptolemy to Edwin Hubble’s expanding Universe. It’s an excellent connection to the unit’s driving question (“How and why do individuals change their minds?”) and the concept of collective learning.

This year, students will work on the Changing Views Timeline activity in groups of six, with each person taking on the role of one of the scientists. They will complete three close reads of their article, making sure to answer the following questions: 

  • What contributions did the person make to how we view the Universe?
  • What previous information did this person build upon or challenge in making the contribution?
  • What evidence is used to challenge and to support the contribution this person made?  
  • What political and social challenges, if any, did this person face when making the contribution?

Each person gets a large Post-it with a five-pane window to record information. The first day we read and compile information. On day two,  students present their findings. Despite working individually, those who read the same article will present together to ensure everyone gets the same information. 

After presentations, students will begin entering information onto our year-long timelines. We’ll start with the contributions of Ptolemy and add each scientist up to Hubble. As we learn about more scientific contributions (Curie, Mendeleev, Wegener …), we’ll add to the timeline so by the end of the year students will have a completed timeline showing how scientific thinking evolved over time. 

Each student receives a one-foot wide piece of butcher paper to create the timeline. It’s important to have a lot of space for students to add information, especially closer to modern times. We store the timelines in the classroom to ensure they are kept in good condition.  Some prefer to use an online timeline (https://time.graphics/.) but I like the hands-on approach. It’s fun to see students thinking and making connections. It’s going to be a great week!  unspecified





About the author: Kathy Hays has been teaching for 30 years, and teaching Big History since 2015. 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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