Why should my students participate in History Day?
The National History Day program provides teachers with an innovative teaching tool that instills important skills in a fun and engaging format. History Day requires students to do the job of a historical detective. Participants must delve into primary sources, develop original historical conclusions, and present their work in a creative forum. In short, National History Day is designed to revolutionize the teaching and learning of history.
History Day provides:
• High academic standards: assists teachers in meeting social studies standards with an outcome-based activity
• Assessment: provides a multilayered performance-based assessment tool
• Interdisciplinary approach: ignites student interest in history by integrating social studies, art, literature, language, science, and music into their presentations
• Teacher recognition: ecognizes teachers with annual Teacher of the Year awards
• Continuing education: offers workshops opportunities at both the state and national level
Students will build a wide range of valuable skills, including:
• Research: creating an annotated bibliography, identifying primary and secondary sources
• Critical thinking: sorting through and summarizing historical materials to form a thesis and present an original position
• Writing: expressing research in a concise, clear manner
• Presenting: demonstrating knowledge to a panel of judges
• Confidence: becoming knowledgeable and enthusiastic about their topic
• Time management: tackling a large research project over many weeks or months, creating and enforcing deadlines
• Creativity: presenting research through an original documentary, website, performance, paper, or exhibit
• Civic engagement: showcasing History Day projects in the community and encouraging involvement in community issues
Where can I go for help and how do I get started?
If your school does not already participate in History Day, contact your district History Day coordinator (find yours here) or get in touch with the state History Day coordinator Judy Dobbs at email@example.com to receive introductory materials such as the National History Day rule book and teacher theme book. Take a close look at the Maryland History Day website for downloadable guides and sample projects. Some teachers make History Day a classroom assignment for all students, others make the program optional for students who wish to participate, and some sponsor an after-school history club that focuses on the creation of a History Day project.
What do other teachers have to say about it?
• "My students not only learned historical research techniques but were challenged to think more critically than they had ever been before. Presenting also helped with their confidence levels."
• "Working on Maryland History Day projects has given me the opportunity to work closely with individual students who often are bright but unchallenged. This allows me to push them further and to challenge them beyond the normal classroom."
• "I think that it encourages me to maintain rigorous standards for my students. Through History Day I am encouraging them to research, think, and act like historians. This is creative and practical learning that matters much more than rote memorization of names and dates."
• "The program is superbly organized from the bottom up. It provides excellent support for academic instruction of the state standards while encouraging and guiding students through the research process. I can depend on this program to be comprehensive and enriching."
• "Giving the students so many different options for presenting their findings made participating in this project easily tailored to fit individual student's strengths and learning style. I appreciated having that flexibility in presenting a multidisciplinary learning opportunity to my students."
• "The greatest benefit for me was seeing just how creative the students were. They showed a great deal of skill in putting it all together. This has encouraged me to challenge my students more than what I have in the past. The potential is there and they need to know that!"