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History Day Projects a Valuable Process

Posted by TNCS on Feb 24, 2016

The History Day project is a valuable process for all students who have an interest in learning more about the past and how it can empower the future. It is a tool that can be used to energize students to be more excited about history because of all the personal choices they can exercise in deciding what to research and how to present what they learned. Each year History Day has a different theme which students are asked to use as a focus for their project work. They may select any topic that ties in with the 8th grade curriculum. They get to decide to work alone or in a group, and they also have choice as to what type of project they want to create, including creating an exhibit, documentary, website, or a live performance.

This year, the 8th graders worked with understanding the theme Exploration, Encounter, and Exchange in History during their first semester study of China and Greece. They were asked to relate each unit’s learning to how it could fit this theme. For example, the Silk Road was exploring new trade routes where you would encounter new people and cultures and exchange goods. 8th graders also did two “warm-up” projects where they learned how to use Noodle Tools, an on-line research site to keep track of their research and bibliography. They then became experts on their topics and created presentations to use as they taught their classmates about their new area of expertise. This month they will research and create their History Day projects. They will begin by getting to know their chosen topics very well and recording all that they learn in Noodle Tools. They will also look into what set the stage for their topic in history, and why it mattered for people of the time, as well as how it impacted people to follow. The students will have a time to share their projects with the middle school during an assembly and then will participate in the regional competition at Virginia State University on March 19th. At the competition, students will interact with graduate students and university professors to answer questions about their work. Their entries will be judged and the top two entries in each category will advance to the state competition April 23rd. Parents are welcome to attend the competitions. This project enables students to continue to improve in their ability to research, present, and, for group projects, collaborate.

Every year it is exciting to see students tackle what looks like a huge task and gain satisfaction from a job well done. This is made possible by breaking the project into manageable steps and providing feedback and support along the way. This year’s topics being considered include the gladiator Spartacus, the Great Wall of China, Hannibal of Carthage, and the Trojan War.

More information about National History Day, including the rules, how-to guides, and winning project examples from past years can be found at their website www.nhd.org.

By Julie Noble

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