Yes, the "I Hate History" students are out there. They may never have had the History Day choice and they think there is nothing interesting about the past. The key is getting students to think creatively about choosing a topic for Connecticut History Day. I have been coaching History Day students for some time, and have been known to say, “You can study the history of anything, even Tiddlywinks.” Although no student has ever taken me up on the offer to study the history of Tiddlywinks, I found myself locating the game and following the trail to the history of games, toys, patents and eventually to the Presidents. This one trail lead to other ideas and it was fascinating.
Have you ever heard how the teddy bear became associated with President Theodore Roosevelt? This might be just a random story and not NHD worthy, but presidential libraries are packed with a ton of conflicts and compromises to explore.
Have you ever heard about the Pulitzer Prize winning cartoonist Clifford Berryman, who was known to draw Teddy political cartoons? Joseph Pulitzer himself is a story worth a look, full of conflicts and compromises.
This year, I approached the Conflict and Compromise theme from a personal perspective. History is my story and your story. History is my grandparents’ stories and encompasses Irish immigration on to the Great Depression. Students need to know that they are living history right now. They will never forget the tragedies that have shaken the world this fall from hurricanes to horrific mass shootings. Nor will they forget the contagious conflict that started with Colin Kaepernick kneeling for the National Anthem. Take any one of these events and trace them back a few decades.
Just these few events got me thinking about my own history. I lived through the Cold War and thought the assassination of Martin Luther King was the worst event of my life and then Robert Kennedy was killed. My history is your history too. I lived through the eruption of Mt. St. Helen’s and recall vividly the 9/11 tragedy. Talk about conflict and compromise? What about the Hartford Circus Fire? Connecticut students are finding this story full of real action. Disasters are huge conflicts and demand compromise of those involved.
Compromise might come in the form of a famous court case. Often a court must decide who is right or wrong in a serious conflict. From the Dred Scott Decision to Roe v Wade, these are a good start to finding topics of interest and tracing them back in time.
History Day gives students the chance to explore a topic of their own choice. Our role as a teacher is to open their minds to the myriad of possibilities. So give it a try. What story could you share with students that you lived through.
Connecticut History Day teacher
Teachers are vital in leading students through the Connecticut History Day experience. Sometimes, it’s hard to know what information is most important. Here are some tips for the coming year:
Know the Theme
Every year, National History Day (NHD) releases the annual theme, and students must explore projects that relate to the theme. This year, students will be creating projects related to Conflict and Compromise in History. Many students will ask if all projects need to include a conflict and a compromise. The answer is that it really depends on the topic being explored. Many topics will have elements of both covered.
NHD recently released a webinar about this year’s theme to help students, teachers, and parents understand what is needed to find a great topic that fits the theme. The webinar can be found on their YouTube page. Along with the theme webinar, NHD publishes a Theme Book every year with topic suggestions, worksheets, and a one-page narrative to help you understand the theme even better. Additionally, the State Office created a 40-page booklet filled with CT topics relating to the theme. Both the Theme Book and Connecticut Topics can be found on the Educator’s Resources page on the CHD website.
Attend a Workshop, or Have Us Come to You
The CHD team wants you and your students to be prepared for the year and excited for National History Day, and to help with that we are offering FREE workshops. This year, “Mr. History” Tim Hoogland from National History Day in Minnesota is coming to Connecticut to lead two Educator Workshops. Join us either on Friday, October 13th at Southern Connecticut State University or Saturday, October 14th at Central Connecticut State University. These two workshops are for teachers, library media specialists, or other educators who want more information about Connecticut History Day and how to teach History Day in your classroom. Tim is a fount of NHD knowledge so we encourage all—brand new teachers, along with veterans—to join us. Participants will get practical suggestions and tips for leading their students through the History Day experience. Our Kick-Off Workshop on Saturday, October 14th at Central Connecticut State University is open to students, parents, and teachers to get you excited for the upcoming History Day season.
Introducing History Day to your students can be a fun experience, and we’re here to help you with that introduction. Connecticut History Day offers History Day 101: Introduction in Connecticut History Day – a workshop for you and your students where we come right to you and introduce all of the essentials. Inviting us into your schools and classrooms is free for you, and is a great way for students to learn about the theme, potential topics, where to research topics, and how students compete at the Regional and State contests. Teachers have found that our CHD 101 Workshops have been helpful to introducing the History Day program and what students can expect to learn by the end of the contest season.
New to our list of workshops is History Day 102: Project Check-In where we come back to your classroom and talk to students about their topic, how it fits the theme, and their research. We love coming into your classrooms, and we hope that these two in-class workshops can be helpful for you in teaching History Day. Make sure to book now at firstname.lastname@example.org as the fall is rapidly filling up.
Read the Rulebook
As educators, we think more about History Day students doing research and learning about a historical topic. Students often think more about the contest aspect of the program. NHD has a set of overall rules for participating and creating a project along rules specific to five project categories: exhibits, websites, documentaries, papers, and performances. Make sure that you and your students review the Rule Book since it will explain what is allowed and prohibited when creating a project, as well as how to create projects in each category. Sometimes reading the Rule Book is not enough, so have your students check out actual History Day project examples. Many examples of past projects can be found on the NHD website and help get a better understanding of what a National History Day project looks like.
Know Your Regional Coordinator
We love hearing from teachers and students at the State Office, but our Regional Coordinators are some of the best (we may be a little biased about that) and are full of knowledge about the History Day program. Each Region has a coordinator specifically assigned to help teachers and students prepare for the Regional Contest, and you should feel free to reach out to them. Our Regional Coordinators are listed on each individual Regional Contest page of our website, as well as on our Contact page. If you ever need help, please do not hesitate to reach out to either your Regional Coordinator or the State Office, we’re always here! The State Office can be reached at email@example.com or 860.368.0738.