Everything’s bigger in Texas, as they say, and that rang true for us at this year’s NCSS annual conference in Austin, Texas. First, we unveiled a new course offering—World History Project (WHP). As if that weren’t enough, we also unveiled a new product family name—the OER Project. Finally, we showed off the big 2019/20 BHP course updates for our flagship course, Big History Project (BHP). It was a veritable rodeo of Big History happenings. Here are the highlights.
New Sheriff in Town: OER Project
Hey, we don’t make the rules, but we do try to stick to them. Turns out, if you make more than one thing, and the things are related, you’re now a family. And every family has a name. We are now the OER Project, as in Open Educational Resources Project. Open means free and available to everyone. Educational means…oh, you get the rest. The family members are now Big History Project and World History Project. These siblings get along great. Which one should you adopt? Both! But if you have to choose, here are some suggestions: If you teach middle school or want to lay a foundation for historical thinking in high school, Big History Project is for you. If you teach high school world history, then World History Project is a better bet. Keep reading for updates and info on both courses.
Practice Progressions: You Have to Trot Before You Canter
In BHP, skills are now organized into practice progressions that, you guessed it, formalize how kids practice and improve important thinking skills in the course. This really gives students a chance to build proficiency in all the good stuff: reading, writing, switching scales, causation, and so on. Here’s a handy map of all the Big History skills progressions and the activities that go with them. These all happen to dovetail right into our new course offering, World History Project (WHP).
Middle School: Giddyup!
We also revealed one of the best-kept secrets in history: Big History is perfect for middle school. There, we said it out loud. Honestly, we don’t know how this became a secret, but it’s a relief to be outed. With built-in scaffolds like three close reads, videos, and audio, and different levels for every reading, it’s been adopted in middle schools everywhere. And middle-school teachers showed up to NCSS in force to tell us and others about it. And NOW when you’re sad that you and your students have completed Big History, you don’t even have to wait for the next season! Keep reading.
World History Project: A New Breed
Whoa, Nellie! Hold onto your hats, folks! At NCSS, we unveiled a dream come true for us at OER Project, and for world history teachers worldwide—World History Project. And it was an NCSS doorbuster! WHP is currently in public beta. This means you can register now and preview the eras, units, and online community. As we add new materials and then launch the full course in time for the 2020/21 school year, you’ll be the first to know.
At NCSS we saw overwhelming enthusiasm from teachers, schools, and districts for offering both courses. And we’re continuing to see and hear it. One popular cadence is to teach BHP in eighth grade, and then follow with WHP in ninth or tenth grade. We’d be happy to chat with you about what scenario makes sense for your setting!
More than a family of courses, the OER Project is a family of educators—engaged in ongoing, year-long professional development with one another via our online communities and in-person events. Check out some photos from our NCSS booth and sessions below, and then let’s chat about how you can get involved!
Header image: Girl on horse with rope lasso. © Getty Images / stevecoleimages