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My Course Plan
Bridgette O’Connor - Semester with block scheduling
2016-17 School Year
Teacher name
Bridgette O’Connor
High school history and government teacher
Saint Scholastica Academy, Covington, LA
I’ve been teaching history and government at St. Scholastica for 8 years and
this is our 4th year teaching the BHP. I grew up just outside of New Orleans
and then moved to San Diego for 7 years, where I got my BA and MA in
history then moved to England for 5 years to work on my PhD. I’ve also lived in
New Zealand, which is where my husband is from and where we had our two
Grades taught
9th and 12th
Classes per day
Length of time per class
90 minutes per day
Length of school year
Each semester is 18 weeks including Thanksgiving and exam weeks
BHP students per year
About 120
Base course plan
Year Long
World History
How is your course
different from this
standard course plan?
I teach a modifed semester course plan with a concentration in World History. This schedule is for 18 weeks
that meets every day for 90 minutes/day.
What suggestions do you
have for teachers who
might choose to follow
your course plan?
Make adjustments as you see fit but definitely stick to your plan and remember to always keep the BH
narrative in mind as you teach.
Unit 1 –What Is Big History?
Teacher Notes
I change the order of this unit and I’ve deleted a few items in the lessons due to time constraints. By choosing one of the History as Mystery
activities to begin the course, students learn that history is so much more than just memorizing dates and people, but rather historians use
evidence to piece together information to understand different eras of time. It is also crucial for students to learn the key concepts in this unit as
they are the basis for the entire course.
Unit 1 Driving Question: Why do we look at things from far away and close up?
Day 1: On the first day of class I go through signing up for the website and the syllabus. I then give a pretest, which is something that I made, and
I assign the BH Scavenger Hunt for homework that night.
Day 2: This fall I did the History as Mystery Activity but next semester I think I’m going to start with the Easter Island Mystery Activity instead as
this one doesn’t take quite as long but also provides the same sort of context (history as a mystery and that it is better to attempt to solve this
mystery by incorporating analysis from multiple discplines). So the order for this day is as follows:
1. Go over scavenger hunt and clear up any issues with website
2. Easter Island Mystery Activity (Lesson 1.3)
3. Watch: What is Big History? and answer questions (Lesson 1.0)
4. Activity: Visions of the Future (Lesson 1.0)
5. Watch: A Big History of Everything – H2 and answer questions (Lesson 1.0)
6. Activity: What Did You Say Happened? (Lesson 1.3) I do a modified version of this in which I give students news reports either from two
very different sources such as Fox News and MSNBC or reports from two different countries and then have them analyze the story for
Day 3:
1. DQ Notebook (Lesson 1.0)
2. Vocab activity/Lesson 1.0 quiz
3. Watch: Big Questions and answer questions (Lesson 1.2)
4. Activity: Origin Stories (Lesson 1.2) Begin this activity by having students read “Origin Stories Introduction” and “Modern Scientific” then
complete the section of the chart for “modern scientific”
Day 4:
1. Activity: Origin Stories (continued) – Break students into groups and assign origin story to each group. All students read their assigned
story and complete the corresponding column. Each group must present their origin story to the class in a fun/interesting/informative
way (song, dance, skit, etc.). All students fill in their charts as each student group presents.
2. Read: Excerpt from article on Big History and the Catholic faith (article presented at the IBHA conference last year) and complete the
three close reads worksheet.
Day 5:
1. Activity: Origin Stories presentations
2. Quiz: Lessons 1.1 and 1.2
3. Activity: Notations and Measures (Lesson 1.1)
4. Video: Are We Alone and answer questions (Lesson 1.3)
5. Read: CNN article about the exoplanet Wolf061
Day 6:
1. Opening: Who Knows What? (Lesson 1.3)
2. Video: Ways of Knowing: Cosmology and answer questions (Lesson 1.3)
3. Video: Waty of Knowing Astrophysics and answer questions (Lesson 1.3)
4. Read: Complexity and Thresholds and complete three close reads worksheet (Lesson 1.4.)
Day 7:
1. Watch: A Big History of Everything – H2 and answer questions (Lesson 2.0)
2. Quiz: Lessons 1.3
3. DQ Notebook Revisited
Unit 2 - The Big Bang
Teacher Notes
The vast majority of this unit is in order; however, I do like to have students read the biographies in Lesson 2.1 before I show them the main
lecture video (“How Did Our View of the Universe Change?) as I feel it allows students to piece together these scientists’ changing views before
David Christian spells it out for them in the video.
Unit 2 Driving Question: How and why do individuals change their minds?
Lesson 2.0—The Big Bang
Day 1:
1. Opening: DQ Notebook
2. Watch: A Big History of Everything – H2
3. Read: “Complexity and Thresholds”
4. Watch: Introduction to Thresholds
5. Watch: Threshold 1 – The Big Bang
6. Activity: This Threshold Today
7. Watch: Questions About the Big Bang
Lesson 2.1—How Did Our Understanding of the Universe Change
Day 2:
1. Opening: Big Bang Snap Judgment
2. Activity: Changing Views Timeline
3. Read: “Claudius Ptolemy”
4. Read: “Galileo Galilei”
5. Read: “Nicolaus Copernicus”
6. Read: “Isaac Newton”
7. Read: “Henrietta Leavitt”
8. Read: “Edwin Hubble “
9. Watch: How Did Our View of the Universe Change?
Day 3:
1. Quiz: Lessons 2.0-2.1
2. Closing: Big Bang Infographic
3. Read: “Approaches to Knowledge” (Lesson 2.2)
Lesson 2.2—Claim Testing
Day 4:
1. Opening: Claim Testing Snap Judgment
2. Watch: How Do We Decide What to Believe?
3. Activity: DQ Notebook Revisited
4. Activity: Claim Testing – The Big Bang
Day 5 and 6:
1. Jeopardy review for test
2. Units 1-2 Test
3. Read: Investigation 2 Library for homework and complete BH Writing Worksheet to prepare to write the Investigation in class tomorrow
Day 7:
1. Closing: Investigation 2
Unit 3 - Stars & Elements
Teacher Notes
In order to make sure to have an ample amount of time for humans and more of the World History pieces in later units, I move through this unit
rather quickly. I feel as though it is important to teach students about the formation and death of stars and how this leads to new complexity but
it is easy to almost get lost in relaying this information. Therefore, it is important to remember the narrative and focus on why the life and death
of stars are thresholds of increasing complexity, especially as this relates to the formation of the Earth and life.
Unit 3 Driving Question: How can looking at the same information from different perspectives pave the way for progress?
Lesson 3.0—How Were Stars Formed?
Day 1:
1. Go over Units 1-2 Test
2. Opening: The Life of a Star
3. Watch: How Were Stars Formed?
4. Activity: My Threshold Card
5. Watch: A Big History of Everything – H2
6. Activity: DQ Notebook (moved this up)
7. Peer edit Investigation 2 essays
Day 2:
1. Activity: Star Comic
2. Quiz: Lesson 3.0
3. Watch: What Did the Stars Give Us? (Lesson 3.1)
Lesson 3.1—Creation of Complex Elements
Day 3:
1. Watch: Threshold 3 – New Chemical Elements
2. Watch: Stars & Galaxies – Crash Course
3. Activity: Superhero Element
4. Read: “Dmitri Mendeleev – Building the Periodic Table of Elements” (Lesson 3.2)
5. Read: “Marie Curie – Chemistry, Physics, and Radioactivity” (Lesson 3.2)
Lesson 3.2—Way of Knowing: Stars and Elements
Day 4:
1. Quiz: Lessons 3.1 and 3.2
2. Opening: DQ Notebook Revisited
3. Read: “A Little Big History of Silver” (Lesson 3.1)
4. Watch: Silver Supernova – H2 (Lesson 3.1)
5. Watch: Crash Course Chemistry – Periodic Table of Elements
Day 5 and 6:
1. Jeopardy/Kahoot review for Unit 3 test
2. Unit 3 test
Unit 4 - Our Solar System & Earth
Teacher Notes
This unit is also a short one for me. This semester I used a student video from the first year I taught the course, which is a stop motion
explanation of the formation of the Solar System using M&Ms and cookies, instead of the Active Accretion Activity. The video can be found on
Yammer in the Unit 4 folder.
Unit 4 Driving Question: How and why do theories become generally accepted?
Lesson 4.0—Earth & the Formation of Our Solar System
Day 1:
1. Opening: Planet Card Sort
2. Watch: Threshold 4 – Earth & the Solar System
3. Watch: How Did Earth and the Solar System Form?
4. Watch: The Sun – H2
5. Activity: Active Accretion (I’ve done this in previous years but it just didn’t work very well this semester so might change for the next
6. Read: “How Our Solar System Formed” (this was assigned for homework the night before I began this lesson)
7. Quiz: Lesson 4.0
Lesson 4.1—What Was Young Earth Like?
Day 2:
1. Watch: The Early Atmosphere (students read the transcript of this video and answered questions for homework the night before this
2. Watch: What Was the Young Earth Like?
3. Closing: DQ Notebook
4. Watch: The Solar System & the Earth – Crash Course (Lesson 4.2)
5. Quiz: Lesson 4.1
Lesson 4.2—Why Is Plate Tectonics Important?
Day 3:
1. Watch: Introduction to Geology (Lesson 4.3)
2. Watch: Introduction to the Geologic Time Chart (Lesson 4.3)
3. Activity: Claim Testing – Geology and the Earth’s Formation
4. Read: “Alfred Wegener & Harry Hess” (Lesson 4.3)
5. Quiz: Lessons 4.1 and 4.2
Lesson 4.3—Ways of Knowing: Our Solar System and Earth
Day 4:
1. Opening: DQ Notebook Revisited
2. Quiz: Lesson 4.3
3. Activity: What Do You Know? What Do You Ask?
Day 5 and 6:
1. Jeopardy/Kahoot review for Unit 4 test
2. Unit 4 test
Unit 5 - Life
Teacher Notes
Unit 5 has a lot in it! It is very easy to get sidetracked and off the mission of keeping with the narrative here, especially considering this is where
students encounter dinosaurs! I’ve condensed this unit down a bit but made sure to keep those activities that I thought were most important.
Students sometimes get confused in Lesson 5.2 with how life and Earth interact so be sure to stress the importance and difference of how
astronomical, geological, and biological events affect life on Earth.
Unit 5 Driving Question: How does extinction drive evolution?
Lesson 5.0—What Is Life?
Day 1:
1. Opening: DQ Notebook
2. Activity: How Closely Related Are We?
3. Closing: Claim Testing – What Is Life?
4. Watch: The Origin of Life – Crash Course
Lesson 5.1—How Did Life Begin and Change?
Day 2:
1. Quiz: Lesson 5.0
2. Watch: How Did Life Begin and Change? (this was assigned for homework and students could either read the transcript or watch the
video (or both) and answer the questions; we then went over this information at the start of class)
3. Watch: Mini Thresholds of Life
4. Activity: Geologic Time and the Mini-Thresholds of Life (This is an activity that I created, which can be found on Yammer in the Unit 5
5. Activity: Are These the Right Mini Thresholds of Life? (I do this but I usually only get a few ones that are really good while the rest are just
eh so I might take this out for next semester.)
6. Watch: The Evolutionary Epic – Crash Course (moved up)
Day 3:
1. Watch: Life in All Its Forms
2. Quiz: Lesson 5.1
3. Opening: Living in the Extremes of the Biosphere (Lesson 5.2)
4. Watch: How Do Earth and Life Interact? (Lesson 5.2)
5. Read: “What Is the Biosphere?” (Lesson 5.2)
Lesson 5.2—How Do Earth and Life Interact?
Day 4:
1. Closing: DQ Notebook Revisited (moved down from 5.1)
2. Watch: How We Proved an Asteroid Wiped Out the Dinosaurs
3. Test: Midterm “Test” and Student Survey Wave 2
Lesson 5.3—Ways of Knowing: Life
Day 5:
1. Activity: The Voyage of the Beagle
2. Read: “Watson, Crick & Franklin”
3. Watch: Codes – H2
4. Quiz: Lesson 5.2 and 5.3
5. Activity: Began modified version of the PBL: Invent a Species
Day 6:
1. PBL working day and then brief presentations
Day 7 and 8:
1. Jeopardy/Kahoot review
2. Unit 5 Test
Unit 6—Early Humans
Teacher Notes
I’ve rearranged this unit a bit more than previous ones because I like for students to complete the DQ Notebook early in the unit and then
again toward the end of the unit. I also find that the Evolution Comic Activity is better once students have a bit more understanding of how
evolution works, and then it can be used as a closing activity/formative assessment. Students really enjoy doing a number of activities in this
unit, especially the Hunter-Gatherer Menu and Historos Cave. Lastly, I moved the Investigation Writing Activity from Lesson 6.0 to Lesson 6.3
because it’s a good one for students to complete just before they start writing their Investigation 6 essays.
Unit 6 Driving Question: What makes humans different from other species?
Lesson 6.0—How Our Ancestors Evolved
Day 1:
1. Opening: Early Ancestors
2. Opening: DQ Notebook (Lesson 6.1)
3. Watch: Threshold 6 – Humans and Collective Learning
4. Watch: Human Evolution – Crash Course
5. Read: “Lucy and the Leakeys”
6. Read: “Jane Goodall”
Lesson 6.1—Ways of Knowing: Early Humans
Day 2:
1. Quiz: Lesson 6.0
2. Activity: Evolution Comic (Lesson 6.0)
3. Watch: Intro to Anthropology
4. Watch: Intro to Archaeology
Lesson 6.2—Collective Learning
Day 3:
1. Activity: Historos Cave (Lesson 6.1)
2. Activity: Claim Testing – Collective Learning
3. Watch: Common Man – H2
4. Watch: Early Collective Learning
5. Read: “Collective Learning” (Part 1)
6. Quiz: Lesson 6.1
Lesson 6.3—How Did the First Humans Live?
Day 4:
1. Watch: How Did the First Humans Live?
2. Watch: From Foraging to Food Shopping
3. Activity: Hunter Gatherer Menu
4. Read: “Foraging”
Day 5:
1. Watch: Genealogy and Human Ancestry
2. Activity: Human Migration Patterns
Day 6:
1. Quiz: Lesson 6.2 and 6.3
2. Closing: DQ Notebook (Lesson 6.2)
3. Activity: Investigation Writing—Content Knowledge (Lesson 6.0)
4. Read: Investigation 6 Library and complete BH Writing Worksheet
Day 7:
1. Closing: Investigation 6
Unit 7 - Agriculture & Civilization
Teacher Notes
This is the first unit that dives into early civilizations, a topic that many students have touched upon in previous classes. I’ve found that the Early
Civilizations Museum Project gets students excited about the material and interested in learning about the different cultures, especially as each
group wants to be chosen as the “best” civilization.
Unit 7 Driving Question: Was farming an improvement over foraging?
Lesson 7.0—The Rise of Agriculture
Day 1:
1. Peer edit Investigation 6 essays
2. Watch: Threshold 7 —Agriculture
3. Watch: Why Was Agriculture So Important?
4. Activity: DQ Notebook
5. Read: What’s for Dinner Tonight?
Day 2:
1. Watch: Jacqueline Howard Presents: The History of Domestic Animals
2. Activity: Investigation Writing – Evidence
3. Read: “Collective Learning” (Part 2)
Lesson 7.1—The First Cities and States Appear
Day 3:
1. Quiz: Lesson 7.0
2. Watch: Where and Why Did the First Cities and States Appear?
3. Read: Agrarian Civilizations Introduction
4. Closing: Early Civilization Museum Project (moved this up from the Closing Activity and modified it to also include gathering information
from the Comparing Civilizations Activity and Readings)
5. Activity: Comparing Civilizations
6. Read: “Uruk”
7. Read: “Mesoamerica”
8. Read: “Jericho”
9. Read: “East Asia”
10.Read: “Greco Roman”
11. Read: “Aksum”
12.Read: “Ghana”
Day 4:
1. Closing: Early Civilization Museum Project
Day 5:
1. Closing: Early Civilization Museum Project
Lesson 7.2—Ways of Knowing: Agriculture and Civilization
Day 6:
1. Closing: Early Civilization Museum Project (presentations and voting for the “best” civilization)
2. Read: From Foraging to Farming
Day 7:
1. Quiz: Lesson 7.1 and 7.2
2. Opening: Social Status, Power, and Human Burials
3. Watch: Migrations & Intensification – Crash Course
4. Activity: DQ Notebook Revisited
5. Read: We’re Not in Kansas Anymore
Day 8:
1. Activity: Rise, Fall, and Collapse of Civilizations
2. Read: “The Origin of Agriculture in Africa”
Day 9 and 10:
1. Jeopardy/Kahoot review
2. Unit 7 Test
Unit 8—Expansion & Interconnection
Teacher Notes
I incorporate a large portion of the World History articles into this unit and I supplement with more detailed information as well to shift the scale
a bit more. This is probably the unit that students tend to remember the most because it has to do with the Columbian Exchange, which is a
topic they have previously studied and one that is closely associated with food (always something that sticks in teenagers’ minds)!
Unit 8 Driving Question: What are the positive and negative impacts of interconnection?
Lesson 8.0—Expansion
Day 1:
1. Closing: DQ Notebook
2. Opening: What Caused Expansion?
3. Watch: Why Did Civilization Expand?
4. Watch: The Modern Revolution – Crash Course
5. Read: “The Four World Zones”
Lesson 8.1—Exploration & Interconnection
Day 2:
1. Activity: Investigation Writing—Argument (Lesson 8.0)
2. Quiz: Lesson 8.0
3. Watch: How Did the World Become Interconnected?
4. Read: “China: The First Great Divergence”
Day 3:
1. Opening: World Travelers
2. Read: “An Age of Adventure”
3. Activity: An Age of Adventure
4. Read: “Ibn Battuta”
5. Read: “Marco Polo”
6. Read: “Zheng He”
Lesson 8.3—Commerce & Collective Learning
Day 4:
1. Activity: Human Migration Patterns II
2. Activity: Columbian Exchange Snap Judgment
3. Watch: Crash Course WH: Columbian Exchange
4. Read: Investigating the Consequences of the Columbian Exchange
Day 5:
1. Quiz: Lesson 8.1
2. Activity: Claim Testing Activity (one I created)
3. Read: When Humans Became Inhumane
Day 6:
1. Activity: DQ Notebook
2. Watch: Jacqueline Howard Presents: The History of Money
3. Activity: Columbian Exchange Infographic
4. Read: “The First Silk Roads”
Day 7:
1. Activity: Personal Supply Chain
2. Watch: Systems of Exchange and Trade
3. Read: She Blinded Me with Science
Day 8:
1. Quiz: Lesson 8.2 and 8.3
2. Activity: Middle Ages to the Enlightenment reading and questions (one I created)
3. Read: “Benjamin Banneker: Science in Adversity”
Day 9 and 10:
1. Jeopardy/Kahoot review
2. Unit 8 Test
Unit 9—Acceleration
Teacher Notes
In an attempt to incorporate World History items and make the unit flow in an orderly and chronological manner, I really chopped and changed
this unit. If you choose not to focus on World History as much as I did then I would stick with the original layout.
Unit 9 Driving Question: To what extent has the Modern Revolution been a positive or a negative force?
Lesson 9.1—Acceleration
Day 1:
1. Opening: Day in the Life (Lesson 9.0)
2. Activity: Periodizing Big History (Lesson 9.0)
3. Activity: DQ Notebook (Lesson 9.1)
4. Watch: Threshold 8 – The Modern Revolution
5. Read: Why is that T-shirt So Cheap? (Lesson 9.4)
Day 2:
1. Opening: The Appetite for Energy
2. Watch: Crash Course World History: The Industrial Revolution
3. Activity: Graphing Population Growth (Lesson 9.2)
4. Read: “Acceleration”
5. Read: You Say You Want a Revolution (Lesson 9.5)
Day 3:
1. Quiz: Lesson 9.0 and 9.1
2. Watch: Crash Course Imperialism (Lesson 9.5)
3. Read: Imperialism and Resistance
Day 4:
1. Watch: How was the modern world created? (Lesson 9.4)
2. Activity: Rights and Resistance Timeline (Lesson 9.5)
3. Read: Crisis and Conflict on the Global Stage (Lesson 9.6)
Day 5:
1. Quiz: Lesson 9.5
2. Activity: Understanding the Causes of WWI (Lesson 9.6)
3. Watch: Crash Course WWI (Lesson 9.6)
4. Activity: Understanding the Consequences of the Global Depression (Lesson 9.6)
5. Read: A Bird’s Eye View (Lesson 9.6)
Day 6:
1. Read: Reform and the World at War (article I wrote)
2. Activity: WWII and Propaganda (Lesson 9.6)
3. Read: And Then Gandhi Came (Lesson 9.7)
Lesson 9.2—The Anthropocene
Day 7:
1. Activity: DQ Notebook Revisited
2. Quiz: Lesson 9.6
3. Watch: The Anthropocene and the Near Future—Crash Course
4. Read: Investigation 9 Library and complete BH Writing Worksheet
Lesson 9.3—Changing Economies
Day 8:
1. Closing: Investigation
Unit 10—The Future
Teacher Notes
This unit is one of the most interesting but also rather scary for students. I think it’s important to stress that while the future may look bleak, it is
up to their generation to be proactive to solve some of the issues that we currently face.
Unit 10 Driving Question: What’s the next threshold?
Lesson 10.0—Looking Back
Day 1:
1. Activity: Peer edit Investigation 9 essays
2. Opening: Timeline Review
3. Watch: The History of Everything – TED
4. Activity: DQ Notebook
Day 2:
1. Closing: What Do You Know? What Do You Ask?
Lesson 10.1—The Biosphere
1. Watch: A Big History of Everything – H2 (Lesson 10.2)
Day 3:
1. Activity: What’s the next threshold (Threshold 9 card)
2. Watch: The Deep Future – Crash Course (Lesson 10.2)
3. Watch: Jacqueline Howard Presents: A Day on Mars
4. Read: “Complexity and the Future” (Lesson 10.2)
Lesson 10.2—Looking Forward
Day 4:
1. Quiz: Lesson 10.0 to 10.2
2. Closing: Visions of the Future (Lesson 10.1)
3. Closing: The Future of Our Planet
4. Read: Sylvester James Gates, Jr.: At the Forefront of Science”
Final week of school devoted to review (2 days) and exams (3 days)