This weekend kicks off contest season for Connecticut History Day! Students attending the New Haven Contest at Southern Connecticut State University will have their projects judged by educators, history professionals, alumni, and volunteers as they share their projects about Triumph and Tragedy in History. At the end of the day, the first round of students will know if they are heading to the State Contest in May.
Whether this is your first contest season or your last, there are always tips on how to get the most out of contest day. Regional Contests aren’t just about presenting your project. This is your chance to meet new friends, experience new things, and interact with others who are passionate about history. Below you can find information and tips on what to expect on contest day and what you can do to get the most out of it.
What to Expect
When you arrive at your regional contest, there will be some parts that are the same for every student across the state. You'll check in for the contest and attend the Welcome Ceremony, you'll present your project, and you'll have the chance to view other student work. Each contest has a variety of other opportunities for students to take advantage of as well.
At each contest, students can:
Some contests may have other opportunities available for students as well such as:
The opportunities are not the only reason why you are at the contest though. Depending on what your project is, you are expected to bring:
Along with presenting your Exhibit, Performance, Documentary, Website or Paper, you also will go through an interview about your project. This is one of the things that students get most nervous about. Judges are excited to meet students and learn more about your research. Remember, you are not judged on your interview. Try to relax and enjoy sharing about your work!
Tips for Making the Most of Your Contest
There is a lot to do on a contest day. There can also be a lot of down time between when you arrive, present your project, and the closing ceremony. To make the most of your day, make sure to take advantage of the opportunities listed above and consider the tips listed below.
On contest day, consider bringing the following with you:
During contest day, we recommend that you:
Contest day is all about what you make of it. So have fun and enjoy your time at Connecticut History Day!
As we get closer and closer to the first Regional Connecticut History Day contest for the year, students should be well into the creation of their papers, websites, performances, exhibits, or documentaries. There is always room to further research though and dig deeper into a topic. Since the start of the year, we’ve shared some resources from around the world and around the country for students to use while researching. Today, we’re taking a look at what is available right here at home! Connecticut has dozens of resources available for students to use when conducting research for their history day projects. As always, these are not the only resources available to students and we would love to know what resources your classes are using! Make sure to share with us by emailing your class favorites to email@example.com.
The resources listed below are available online or in person. Addresses for the physical locations of these resources are listed.
Dodd Research Center at the University of Connecticut
405 Babbidge Road, Unit 1205, Storrs, CT
The Dodd Reasearch Center is home to Archives and Special Collections at UConn. While students can visit the Center in person, many of the collections are available online through their digital repository. The collections available range from information on Connecticut Business to local history, politics and public affairs and much more.
Connecticut State Library
231 Capitol Ave., Hartford, CT
The Connecticut State Library offers resources for researching just about everything related to the state. From colonial records to Native American research and beyond, they have it all. The State Library also has a large digital collection that students can use to view books, diaries, journals, photographs, and more to help with their research and project development.
Connecticut Historical Society
1 Elizabeth Street, Hartford, CT
CHS offers online and in person access to their archives. Through their website, students can go through online catalogs and find helpful guides to finding manuscripts and other resources. Students can also visit the Waterman Research Center at the Historical Society to view items in person. Information and regulations for visiting the Waterman Research Center are available here.
Across Connecticut, there are many more museums, historical society, and research centers that can help students learn more about their topics and aid their research. Visit the Connecticut Resources section of the Connecticut History Day website for more!
Several years ago, when I was teaching a Modern World History lesson about Louis XIV, one of my students realized that she had actually visited his palace as a child. She eagerly shared with her peers her memories of its size and the endless gardens on the property. Up until that point, students sat quietly listening to my presentation and taking notes. Yet, once a fellow classmate made a personal connection, the excitement was so contagious that everyone wanted to learn more about her trip. My student’s realization was every teacher’s dream; she was able to use a personal experience to develop a deeper understanding of the course content. Turning that dream into a reality in the classroom is no easy task, though! Since many of our students will not visit the faraway places that they study in their history classes, we need to find creative approaches to build authentic experiences into the curriculum.
When I had the opportunity to teach a high school capstone course that centered around the Connecticut History Day project, I knew that I needed to provide students with opportunities to extend their learning beyond the classroom walls. More specifically, I wanted to motivate students to continue learning about their project topics after the bell rang to end class each day. Rather than hand out a list of research requirements on the first day of class (there is no fun there!), I tried a different approach by creating a set of voluntary “challenge projects” that students could complete throughout the semester. Assignments included tasks such as visiting museums or historical societies, reading outside texts, interviewing individuals, or even developing student-proposed projects. Since these assignments were voluntary, I did not grade them. In fact, if students did not complete them, their averages were not penalized in any way. If students did choose to complete at least two of them (and fulfilled the assignment criteria), they were eligible to receive honors credit for the course. By the end of the semester, over half of the class had turned in at least two projects, and all of students were able to integrate their work into their actual History Day projects. The “laid back” format worked so well that I ended up using it in an elective course that I taught the following semester.
I was most surprised with students’ resourcefulness as they engaged in their work, particularly when it came to interviewing individuals. Overwhelmingly, students realized that the real “experts” were the people who lived through the events they were studying. Students were able to connect a woman who was a teenager in East Berlin in the 1980s, a police officer who worked at Ground Zero after the September 11th attacks, and a survivor of the Stonewall Riots. One student summed up his interview perfectly: “It was a different experience compared to when I read about how citizens felt by reading database articles or websites.…I was able to get a better idea of what she was dealing with and thinking because I was talking to an actual person who lived through it.” I often reserved a few minutes of class time each day for students to share exciting news related to their research. Without a doubt, when students heard success stories like that one, they became more motivated to step outside their own comfort zones and initiate their own interviews.
At the beginning of the semester, my class visited Rebecca Taber-Conover at the Old State House to learn more about the History Day project as well as the history of the building itself. While we were there, Rebecca shared examples of projects from past years, many of which included the types of authentic research that I was asking my own students to undertake in their challenge projects. Consequently, students started off the course with some clear models of how their research might “come together” at the end of the course. Furthermore, they were able to see firsthand how much they were able to learn about U.S. history just from an hour-long visit to a historic site. A class-wide “site-based experience” was a great way to kick-off the course and get students excited about beginning their own research.
If you are just starting out doing the History Day project with your classes, I definitely recommend that you build your own form of “challenge projects” into your class. Many topics in history have connections to Connecticut, so your students might be surprised at the resources that are available so close to home. Most importantly, students will realize that history is so much more than a list of names and dates that they read online; it is their interpretation of that information based on who they are, where they live, the people they meet, and stories they uncover.
Joseph Marangell is the social studies coordinator for East Haven Public Schools.
History Day is all about students picking a topic that interests them and becoming an expert in that topic. By this point, students should be deep into the research part of their project. For those who still need some assistance, we’ve been collecting resources to help students through this process. Recently, we shared our U.S. History resources. This week, we’re taking a look at some world history resources. Again, these are not the only resources available to students and we would love to know what resources your classes are using! Make sure to share with us by emailing your class favorites to firstname.lastname@example.org.
World Digital Library
Created by the Library of Congress with the support of the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization, the World Digital Library offers thousands of digital resources for students to use. The WDL includes interactive timelines of world history, United States History, and World War I; interactive maps; and themes are a few certain topics that give an in-depth look at a topic.
Library of Congress
The Library of Congress doesn’t just focus on U.S. History. In its collections, the LOC provides country studies for numerous places around the world along with related content to those studies. The country studies in the collection were written by multidisciplinary teams of social scientists. The collection also includes studies of countries that no longer exist but could be useful for certain topics such as Czechoslovakia, East Germany, the Soviet Union, Sudan, and Yugoslavia.
Created by Brigham Young University, EuroDocs provides open access to documents from throughout European history—even back to Prehistoric and Ancient Europe! This tool can help students further their research by country, time period, and topic.
The British Museum
While you may not be able to travel to England to visit The British Museum, you can take an online field trip! The British Museum offers all sorts of different research tools for students to use during their research. They can view over four million objects from the museum’s collection, browse through their online library, use their online research catalog.
For more ideas on where to look online for research, students can visit NHD.org and look through their helpful research links tab. National History Day has collected dozens of websites for different organizations, museums, libraries, and more to help with student research.