ReMaking Big History

My school uses the practices of assessment literacy when designing the interdisciplinary units of study that students complete in our program. Staff create a pathway (akin to a unit) using the standards of the primary course certification of that unit creator. These standards have already been broken down into discrete learning targets in student-friendly language. Then the projects are reviewed for additional learning targets for secondary subjects. Students demonstrate progression towards comprehension of the learning targets for all applicable courses by completing the project requirements and checking their work against the target rubric. They can earn credit in multiple subject areas of a project so staff is always aiming to make a project as multifaceted as possible. Every target earned = a percentage of credit. I wrote this lesson for the Big History Project course that I teach to high school 9-12 grade and in the spirit of the Maker movement – utilizing the Makey Makey kits.

The targets I was aiming for with this stop (part of our unit plan language) in the concluding month of our interdisciplinary course  are social studies and English Language Arts (ELA) since I am certified and instruct in both of these subjects. There are additional Big History learning standards that this project also met. The ELA targets are derived from the ELA Common Core Standards while the social studies targets were derived from the National C3 Standards.

Check out my lesson plan & assorted materials HERE


One thought on “ReMaking Big History

  1. Ben Rimes says:

    And here I thought I knew pretty all of the education lingo and jargon, you go and dump all this new stuff on me! 🙂

    I like the way your school has created pathways and broken everything down into discrete learning targets, and then allowing the learner to check their competencies (or at least completions) against those targets with a rubric. It must keep the instructors in your program in a very theory (or perhaps pedagogical) based mindset when both planning and teaching.

    I think what intrigues me the most about this lesson plan is the way you’re blending both the ideals of the Big History Project and the foundational elements that go into creating a learning environment rich with learner agency. You’ve got students making sense of large shifts in human development and history through interconnected events, but you’re also allowing them the ability to self identify the found objects that help connect those historical events to ideals and events they can relate to today, or at least in recent living memory. I’m very fascinated with this, and I think it works well!

    Providing a brief reflective assessment, that also includes the assessment of the value of their teammates’ work ability, is a great way to keep them thinking above the actual activity and ensuring that they are active participants. It plays nicely into both the rationale, and the activity itself as they are constantly being asked to spend just as much time “doing” the activity as they are “thinking” about it. Very well done!


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