What’s Next?: A WHP Update

We hope you’ve had a chance to dive into the new World History Project (WHP) course. Maybe you’ve checked out one of our new videos, which range in topic from how to use frames in history, to the Comanche empire, to decolonization and the Cold War in the Caribbean. Or perhaps you’ve explored some of our activities, which not only scaffold skills such as sourcing, contextualization, and continuity and change over time (CCOT), but give students the opportunity to use historical empathy to engage with complicated events of the past. Perhaps you’ve even had a chance to read one of our era or unit overview articles, and then gone a little deeper to explore resources on everything from foraging communities and networks to the Industrial Revolution. You might very well be wondering… what next? As you can probably tell, we’ve offered just a glimpse of the full curriculum. So, what’s to come? And when?

Here’s what’s up: We consider the curriculum in 2019/20 to be a “public preview.” While we do have a handful of teachers piloting WHP in classrooms throughout the United States, the full curriculum will not be available until the 2020/21 school year. However, we welcome (and strongly encourage!) you to test out any of the materials available on the site. With that in mind, we want to give you a sense of what you can expect to see on the WHP website, both in the near future and a little farther down the line. Still have questions? Don’t hesitate to reach out to help@oerproject.com.

Ongoing: The following materials will be rolling out to the new site in the next couple of months. Keep an eye out!

Era/Unit Overview Videos: If you don’t know Kim and Colby yet, get to know them. They are your (and your students’) trusty guides through WHP! The beginning of each era and unit features Kim and Colby in an overview video, which serves as a roadmap meant to orient and engage your students in the era/unit material that follows. These videos describe the principal changes students will learn about in the era/unit; present them with their first evidence in the form of a case study and some quantitative data; and raise important questions for them to think about. These videos are in production now, and we’ll be rolling them out to the site as soon as we can.

Still Under Construction: Coming for the 2020/21 school year!

Assessments/Writing Progression: Writing assessments will play an important role in WHP, helping students to improve their reading and writing skills as they engage with content in a meaningful way. Students will be asked to respond in writing to a variety of prompts, including those related to contextualization, causation, historical comparison, CCOT, and a variety of document-based questions (DBQs). These assessments will be offered at the end of each era/unit, and will alternate between document-based questions (DBQs) and free-response questions (FRQs). Additionally, as with all our historical thinking practices, we will offer a skills progression. Because history teachers are not necessarily trained as writing teachers yet must help students develop their writing skills, we have created a series of activities that focus specifically on developing these core writing skills, so that students are prepared to construct their own historical narratives in response to these varied historical prompts.

Data Explorations: In order to help students test historical claims using evidence—a central goal of WHP—we are creating a series of data explorations. These data explorations, which are primarily constructed with materials from Our World in Data (OWID), are typically made up of two parts. The first is a reading combined with a map or graph from OWID. The second part is an activity. The activity usually asks students to engage with the map or graph in three ways:

  1. To develop and demonstrate an understanding of what the map or graph actually shows
  2. To make inferences from that understanding
  3. To demonstrate the application of some “sourcing” skill in interpreting the map or graph, often by turning to the sources tab on the OWID website.

Data explorations will be found in the introductory lesson of each era/unit, and will often be supplemented by the overview video, which will present them as one piece of evidence supporting, extending, or contesting claims made by scholars on the principal topics of that era/unit.

Practice Questions: As part of our partnership with Khan Academy, we are creating a series of practice questions that will assess student understanding at the end of each lesson. These practice questions will challenge students to demonstrate their mastery of the preceding lesson by getting five questions correct in a row. While we don’t ever recommend that you use for these practice questions for grading purposes, they provide a valuable assessment tool for you to check on student understanding.

Leveled Readings: Like the Big History Project, WHP has partnered with Newsela to create multiple reading levels of each article. These will be rolled out throughout this year, but you can expect all of them to be available for the 2020/21 school year.

Video Features: We wanted to make the videos available for viewing as soon as possible during the public preview, but you can expect additional features, such as captions, transcripts, and built-in pauses to help emphasize key ideas.

Teacher Resources: A quality curriculum should provide more than just quality classroom materials. We are in the process of building out key teacher resources that will help you guide your students through WHP. These will include course guides, vocabulary guides, pacing guides, individual era/unit guides, and an online professional development course: Teaching World History.

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