Graduate Students are Big on History overview image

Graduate Students are Big on History

  • Post Date: 09/27/2018
  • Author: Kim Sheahan
  • Reading Time: 2 minute read

For many years, Museum staff members have presented outreach programs to the sixth graders at Champaign’s Edison, Franklin, and Jefferson Middle Schools. Originally, the presentations focused on ancient civilizations in a series called “An Artifact Speaks.” When the social studies curriculum changed to one called Big History, we worked with teachers to create a new series of artifacts and activities. Instead of focusing on specific cultures, Big History programs focus on cross-cultural topics, like writing, trade, water, and climate.

Along with the new series came a new collaboration. Working with Professor Allison Witt in the University of Illinois College of Education’s Office of International Programs, the Spurlock Museum is now working with graduate students who lead sessions in the classrooms. Through Big History, these students get intensive classroom experience over the course of a full school year.

The two graduate students who taught the programs in the 2017–18 school year are Sadia Mazid, a Ph.D. student in Education Policy, Organization, and Leadership (EPOL), and Nimra Burney, who is working on her Master of Arts degree in Speech Language Pathology. Both are eager to continue their classroom work this fall, but they are also working this summer on program updates—including the creation of new activities—and researching program funding sources. Sadia and Nimra are also giving presentations to high school students planning for education careers and international undergraduates majoring in Education.

The Museum is currently working with other units on campus on the possibility of expanding the Big History program to other schools in the area. Plans also include the acquisition of additional Teaching Collection artifacts that can increase the diversity of cultures included in each program topic. We are excited to about these growing partnerships.

  • Nimra and Sadia standing together behind table

Nimra Burney (left) and Sadia Mazid (right) with materials from the Writing and Money programs.