Note from the BHP Team: In this month’s Big Question article, Changing Your Mind,” veteran BHP teacher Rachel Hansen writes, “Changing your mind requires serious thought.” How do you get there? Rachel offers try-it-tomorrow recommendations on activities with narrative and thresholds, claim testing, and interdisciplinary perspectives for Unit 2 (and beyond) that help students understand why it’s not easy to persuade society to abandon their old ways and ideas.

Dig into this response post to Rachel’s blog, in which even more BHP teachers share how they tackle this big question. Then, join the discussion in the BHP Teacher Community to keep the conversation rolling.


“Fantastic blog post, Rachel Hansen. As with anything, we usually tackle the DQ in Unit 2 by beginning with the familiar. Most of my sixth graders have never heard of Ptolemy, Copernicus, or Galileo, let alone geocentrism or heliocentrism, so we start this unit off by working with something they have experience with: the transition to middle school. We start off by having them brainstorm how and why their feelings about middle school have changed over time. Through this short activity, we get at the heart of the idea that people’s minds change as they gather and develop more knowledge about something through experiences, interactions, and information. We then extend this idea to claim testing by examining the things that worried them most about the transition from elementary to middle school, and which claim testers they used to prove these worries either true or false. Once we’ve activated these skills by using things they are familiar with, we are ready to move forward with the DQ by introducing the content of Unit 2. I really love the new Changing Views Timeline activity. We take each of the six readings about the scientists and blow them up into posters and have the students carousel through each one, looking for each scientist’s contributions to our changing view of the Universe. From there, we have groups create their changing views timeline poster, which helps them understand that changing one’s mind is a slow process that relies upon the evidence gathered by authorities who often have to rely upon their own intuition and logical conclusions to bring about changes within the collective learning of the greater society. This all culminates in building a fantastic knowledge base for students to apply toward Investigation 2, as well as building a stronger claim testing skill set that can be transferred across various disciplines. Speaking of disciplines, the What Do You Know? What Do You Ask? activity is a fantastic addition to Lesson 2.2, and the discipline cards are a great scaffold for middle school students. We are going to add an additional hands-on project for this lesson by having students research a specific discipline and then create a discipline trading card with a picture of the quintessential person associated with that discipline on the front, and various pieces of information about that discipline on the back. So looking forward to getting to Unit 2 this year!”

Zach Cain, BHP Teacher, Grade 6
Illinois, USA

“I introduce the idea of interdisciplinary learning by getting students to complete the What Do You Know? What Do You Ask? activity and then getting students to apply this knowledge to the tomb of Tutankhamun. I give them a brief background to the life of Tutankhamun and show them pictures of the contents of the tomb. I then ask them what experts they would gather to find out about his life and why he died at such a young age. Next, they read this article and summarize the evidence that is presented to support the theory that he was murdered. I then get them to do the same for the next article. Lastly, we discuss why people changed their minds regarding how he lived and died, and hopefully by this stage they will be able to articulate how changes in technology and investigation techniques advance our knowledge. You can also discuss the contribution of different disciplines to solving the mystery of how Tutankhamun died and how these disciplines complement each other.”

Charles Rushworth, BHP Teacher, Year 9
Sydney, Australia

Rachel Hansen, once again, great blog with ‘Changing Your Mind’ ! This year, I plan to use a Hidden Brain episode called “The Vegetable Lamb.” It talks about how people change their minds in science, and how evidence is not necessarily always the deciding factor. I still have to pick out the pieces I will play in my class from this podcast.”

Hajra Saeed, BHP Teacher, Grades 10-12
California, USA

“Wow! Rachel Hansen nailed it! I tell my students history is a giant puzzle, and we’re missing the box top with the picture, as well as pieces, and, to top it off, the puzzle changes shape (like the staircases at Hogwarts) as we learn more information. This sets the tone for Unit 2, which is one of my favorite Driving Questions because students can easily make a personal connection to changing their minds. It’s easy to build on as we carry this discussion over to other units, for example, Wegener and Hess in Unit 4. The Views of the Universe Debate helps set students up to write the Investigation essay by asking them to provide evidence and analysis as they make their argument. You can see the “aha” moments as they work to prove their point. Even my quietest students love this debate! We constantly refer back to this question throughout the year to help students see how our thinking changes over time.”

Kathy Hays, BHP Teacher, Grade 9
Arizona, USA


Don’t forget to throw your thoughts into the conversation on Yammer and share ideas with other BHP teachers. Everyone is in this together, and you’ll find a supportive community there, always!

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