By the OER Project Team
Ice cream, beach days, hot weather, blockbuster movies, and OER Project updates. What do these things have in common? They’re all signs of summer! This year, we have some exciting new updates not only to our course content, but to the OER Project website itself. Check out descriptions below, and find links to some of our favorite new materials!
Unit Overview videos
These 10 new videos are like Big History Project (BHP) roadmaps, reminding students of where they’ve been and where they’ll travel next while also keeping the BHP central narrative of increasing complexity front and center in their minds. Featuring trusty guide and veteran BHP teacher Rachel Hansen, the videos appear at the beginning of each unit and provide a review of what students learned in previous units and a preview of what they’ll learn in the current one. Go check them out! From the introduction to Big History in Unit 1 all the way through to the guest appearance of “Future” Rachel Hansen in Unit 10, we hope that these new videos provide you and your students with an engaging and helpful hook to each unit.
The graphic biographies in the World History Project courses have been well received, so it’s only fair that BHP gets some as well! These graphic bios will highlight the hidden figures who helped create our modern origin story. The story of who we are and how we got here is a mosaic crafted by brilliant scientists and geniuses but also by everyday people—cowboys, sailors, and milkmaids. We're particularly paying attention to the untold stories of women, people of color, and Indigenous peoples who have contributed to the long history of collective learning that has produced our modern scientific origin story.
We’re excited to kick off this series with four graphic biographies: Mary Golda Ross, Ynés Mexía, George McJunkin, and Ales Hrdlicka. We’ve got plenty more to come, and we’ll be adding them to the course throughout the summer.
Everyone knows that claim testing is a core concept and skill that all students (and adults!) need when assessing information at school, in the news, or on social media. So, to help students gain more practice with this skill, we added additional activities to the BHP claim-testing practice progression! These new activities encourage students to put their claim-testing skills to use by crafting supporting and refuting statements backed by evidence from the course. New claim-testing activities have been added to Unit 5: Life; Unit 6: Early Humans; and Unit 8: Expansion and Interconnection. We can’t wait for your students to try them!
You all asked for more primary sources and we listened! We’re pleased to announce that more than 20 new sourcing collections have been added across all WHP flavors. These collections cover a wide range of historical periods and topics, from fourteenth-century belief systems to twenty-first-century resistance movements. Each collection has a guiding question for students to consider as they read the sources and new Quick Sourcing activities to help them quickly evaluate the sources individually and group them together to help them answer the guiding question. Having students analyze primary sources and practice quickly sourcing them will help them tremendously when they have to respond to DBQs in the course or on AP® World History: Modern exams!
DBQs for everyone!
We know that Score (the automated essay-scoring feature) is a powerful tool for supporting your writing instruction, so we wanted to ensure you had more opportunities to use it, and greater flexibility for when you use it! There are now Score prompts available in every single unit of all three World History Project (WHP) flavors. We’re not saying you have to assign a Score prompt every unit, but we want you to be able to choose, based on what is best for your students. And don’t worry—if you liked having an LEQ option, you’ll still find one in each of the even-numbered eras and units.
WHP 1200 frames videos
If you teach WHP Origins or 1750, you know that in the first lesson of each era/unit there’s a frames video, featuring Bob Bain, that describes the key transformations, topics, and events of the upcoming era/unit through one or all of the course frames: communities, networks, and production and distribution. We didn’t want the WHP 1200 course to feel left out! This new series of videos, which features Trevor Getz, will help students taking the 1200 course trace important developments through the frames, from the introductory videos on communities, networks, and production and distribution, in Unit 1, all the way through Unit 9.
As we add more OER Project courses, our site needs to evolve too! We’ve made a few changes to our website to make the experience easier for you and your students.
While global navigation sounds like an article covering maritime trade, our improved site global navigation is all about making teacher resources, class management, and support links easier to find. Check out “Manage Classes” (1) to access recently visited courses and the “Help” menu (2) for a full set of teacher supports. Plus, your profile options (3) have been simplified to include just what’s most important.
We’ve also added an individualized banner at the top of the page when you first login (4) that offers key site information and tips tailored just for you.
Your feedback helped us see that the course listing of our many courses didn’t differentiate them much visually, so we’ve made that clearer. Over on the right, you’ll find some pertinent details about course length, grade level, and more (5). Plus, now you can add a course right from the home page, and as always, there are links to the course home page and teacher supports.
You can also pin your courses so they show up at the top of your home page once you log in (6). No more scrolling just because the course you teach is at the bottom! This will also apply to the students in your class, making it easier for them to find the right course.
Speaking of which, the upgrades aren’t just for us teachers. An improved student experience helps students to easily navigate to their courses and assignments. Now, instead of the full course listing, they’ll see their class details and clear links to the Course Home page and View Assignments. Also, the last three things students worked on—maybe they did some Practice Questions, viewed a lesson, visited a Score Assignment—will appear so they can pick up right where they left off (7).
We know change can be jarring, but we’ve designed these updates using teacher feedback, and we think they’ll help improve your overall experience. As always, reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions!
New writing activities!
Because we know that strong writing skills are achieved through lots of practice and then more practice, we’re excited to share the expansion of the Project Score writing activities to the other OER Project courses. If you’re not familiar, Project Score is a “choose your own adventure”-style writing extension that provides scaffolded writing support and allows you to make instructional decisions based on the needs of your students. These writing activities focus on rubric-based writing and revision strategies that address a specific aspect of the writing process: Claim & Focus, Analysis & Evidence, or Organization. Plus, they work hand in hand with Score, the essay-scoring platform that provides feedback for student writing. These activities are included alongside the first few DBQs of the course, but you can repeat any part to accompany any and all DBQs, making that practice available to your students whenever they need it. These are the same great Project Score activities, now accessible to teachers and students of BHP and WHP. In BHP, you’ll find these new activities alongside the Investigations in Units 1 to 3, while in WHP, look for them alongside the DBQs in Eras/Units 2 to 4!
New courses! Oh, and as you may have heard, we’re also launching two new courses! We have a WHP AP® course, designed for those who are teaching AP® World History: Modern. You can learn more about that here. And in July, we’re more than excited to launch the Extension version of Climate Project.
Designed with non-science teachers in mind, the Climate Project focuses on inspiring young people to develop and take local civic action toward avoiding a climate disaster. The Extension version is a shorter course that takes about two weeks to teach, perfect for that awkward time after the AP® exam, or as an addition to other social studies courses—we think it fits perfectly in civics, global issues, and twentieth-century history. We’re considering the 2022/23 school year a public beta pilot for the Extension version of Climate Project, which will allow us to collect feedback in advance of the launch of our semester-long Climate Project course in the spring of 2023.
We'll have more information on the Climate Extension ready soon, so keep an eye on your inbox!