Years 7 and 8 Academic Extension Program – Big History Project
In 2015 Broome Senior High School implemented Year 7 and 8 extension classes for identified gifted and talented students. The Big History Project is interdisciplinary and cross-curricular as it weaves together elements of traditional History, Science, and twenty-first century skills through several investigations throughout the course. These are based on Big History ideas and content/skills from core elective subjects. The Big History Project is mapped to Australian Curriculum skills and content for Humanities and Social Sciences (HaSS) and Science, in addition to Australian Curriculum Core Literacy Outcomes.
The structure is three 55-minutes lessons per week (including one after-school tutorial) over a full school year, for a total of 80 hours. The first three terms are spent surveying the big bang to the modern revolution. The features and assessment is focused around four blocks of assessment: a driving questions journal which is student centred; a selection of the BHP online tests, which are considered course work; the scoring essays (submitted online and marked by Arizona State University); and the final presentation.
The first term has lots of direct teaching to introduce key Big History concepts and familiarise students with the course and the website. In the second and third terms the students do more independent work following their interests and using the BHP to investigate the various thresholds of time. This is punctuated with a selection of expert guest teachers giving valuable insights into areas of special interest and value to a threshold or topic.
At the end of Term 3, students embark on the Japanese Learning Experience—an trip to Japan—which allows them to experience the modern world at its peak, before finishing their course by making predictions about the future and creating a final presentation predicating the next threshold for our planet. These predictions are a showcase of student learning throughout the year and are in the form of a presentation evening, which will be an event in the Performing Arts Centre combining extension classes in Years 7-8 and other Big History activities from across the school.
In 2018 there is also the inclusion of the Year 8 Academic Extension Program, which is going to be a Big History Australia Pilot Program. Broome SHS has been chosen as a development partner with the Big History Institute at Macquarie University to trail and help develop a Big History Curriculum for Australian and, in our case, WA schools. The format will build on the ideas of the Year 7 program and will add an increased emphasis on student-centred project-based learning with a cross-cultural and cross-curriculum focus. The Year 7 class will be automatically rolled over into the Year 8 class, although there may be some additional places. At this stage it will have two academic camps and several excursions/incursions including:
- Yawuru/Astro Tours stargazing cross-cultural evening
- Lurujarri trail with two guides: A Goolarabooloo elder and a DCMG Conservation science officer (4-day camp in August).
- Macquarie University: Big History Pilot school/STEM workshops + Sydney Extravaganza (4-5 days in December).