Big History Professional Development Days

Big History Professional Development Days

Big History Professional Development Days



2015 has been a busy year in the teaching space for the Big History Institute. Elle Hrobat, Project Coordinator takes us through how teachers share their knowledge about engaging students in Big History at our Professional Development days. 

On an annual basis, the Big History Institute hosts Professional Development and Implementation days for current and prospective Big History teachers in Australia. This year, we hosted two successful days in both NSW and QLD, and the response by teachers has been increasingly positive.

The NSW Professional Development day took place on the 29th August at Macquarie University, Sydney with the QLD day following on September 5th at Somerville House, Brisbane. Led by the Institute's Education Leader, Tracy Sullivan with the support of Project Coordinator, Elle Hrobat, the days served as BOSTES accredited seminars about Big History in the classroom.

This year, NSW and QLD teachers were treated with a key note by David Christian, which was a definite drawcard for some student volunteers, particularly on a Saturday! David spoke of the growing importance of transdisciplinarity and Big History in an age where real world problems do not fall neatly into disciplines, and how this will ultimately be the responsibility of the future generations.

Aims and outcomes of teaching the Big History Project as well as matching it to the Australian Curriculum were addressed by Education Leader, Tracy Sullivan. This year, the Institute decided that the days be more teacher led.  Each of the presentations throughout the day were given by experienced teachers who have been teaching Big History for several years, with most of them pioneering the course when it was first taught at their schools. 

The NSW sessions were given by Jonathon Dallimore (Smith's Hill High School), Jillian Turner (Narrabeen Sports High School) and Paul Jones (Riverside Girls High School). A week later, QLD teachers were able to gain Big History insights under the capable lead and coordination of Alana Johnston & Kira Sampson (Somerville House), Des Hylton (St Paul's QLD) and Katy Gorlick (Bundaberg High School). A special mention to the student volunteers of Somerville House and St Paul's who came in to present their Big History work from the classroom. Even showcasing how they could use their iPhones as spectroscopes! Hearing first hand from the teachers made for some great Q&A's at the end of each session. Some of the topics addressed included Big History and the Future of Education; Teaching Critical Thinking Skills; Big History and Differentiation and Teaching Core Concepts.

Interestingly, this year saw a few inquisitive primary school teachers wanting to learn more about Big History and how it might work in the primary space. Curriculum hurdles aside, they saw connections and relevancy from the outset.

The NSW day concluded with a panel discussion between the Big History teacher presenters and the audience. As the teachers come from a diverse range of school contexts, it was a great opportunity for prospective Big History teachers to connect and align themselves with particular ways of implementation. The growth of the Australian Big History teaching community continues!

For more information on professional development opportunities and/or how to implement Big History in your school please contact our Education Leader Tracy Sullivan, tracy.sullivan@mq.edu.au

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