Note from BHP Team:
Possibilities abound for how to use this month’s Big Question article in your Big History classroom. Take inspiration from fellow BHP teachers who have already noodled on options for connecting this resource to concepts, skills, and more in the BHP curriculum for this month, and check out a post from Kathy Hays on how to make connections for the months ahead, too!
Read on for ready-to-roll-out-on-Monday ideas linked to this month’s Big Question article, “Where Would We Be Without Bugs?” Michael Wall, Curator of Entomology from the San Diego Natural History Museum, recaps the history of bugs and the influence they’ve had on humans—and gives us a glimpse into how our future might continue to be shaped by these six-legged friends. We hope these activity ideas from fellow BHP teachers don’t make your students too squirmy.
Do you have an idea of how to connect this article to the classroom? Join the buggy conversation happening on Yammer to engage and collaborate with other educators to generate even more fresh, maggot-free activities and learnings for students!
“Students (and teachers!) are always looking for good examples for the Little Big History (LBH) Project. This article is, in many ways, a Little Big History of bugs. Right around the time that students are grappling with the essentially infinite number of possible topics for their LBH Projects and puzzling out how to include several different thresholds, having them read this article as a ‘model’ of sorts would be a great starting point.”
Mike Marshall, BHP Teacher, Grade 9
“Fantastic and engaging article that I am definitely going to use with my Big History kiddos. As for where to introduce and use it, I’m torn. When I read the very last paragraph, where it was pointed out that insects have lived through four mass extinctions, I immediately thought of using it as part of Unit 5, since our theme for this unit has been mass extinction. Alas, we are reaching the end of Unit 5 this week, and thus the longevity and survival of insects will only get a passing nod. But next year for sure—it’s going in Unit 5! This year, I think I’ll use the article in Unit 9. And no matter what, I’ll be using the ‘Arthropod Scene’ joke in that unit. In the first section of the article—”Insects Have Ruled the World for Millions of Years”—I was drawn to this sentence: “Some contend that one of the factors that drove dinosaurs and later bats to the skies, was the airborne food that insects represented.” This line reminded me of a couple of recent articles and documentaries that have focused on the viability of insects as a food source for humans, one that could help feed the massive population explosion that we are going to see in the next 30 years. I’m still toying with ideas of what this is going to look like when we get to Unit 9, but I am leaning toward a CER (Claims, Evidence, Reasoning) prompt of, “Can insects save us from overpopulation and famine?”
Zachary Cain, BHP Teacher, Grade 6
“I think there are a couple of ways you could incorporate insects in Unit 6. We just completed the Hunter Gatherer Menu activity from Lesson 6.3, and of course, insects were a huge item on the menu. We read the article “Foraging” prior to students creating menus. It identifies insects as part of the diet of hunter gatherers, so it’s a perfect connection to discuss the significance of insects throughout history. It aligns nicely with the last section of Dr. Wall’s article. You might also talk about how insects are still consumed by a large number of people around the globe today. Prior to creating the menu, it might be fun to have students create a T chart comparing the positives and negatives of insects in the modern era. One example is a recent article about how cockroaches are being used to process food waste in China. While this seems to be a positive impact, I’m totally uncomfortable with the concept of billions of roaches all in one place! It could be a great lead-in to the Unit 6 Investigation, which focuses on communication, and includes a text on how bees communicate.”
Kathy Hays, BHP Teacher, Grade 9