A message from your friends at the Connecticut History Day State Office...
As students begin the process of selecting their topics for History Day 2019, they may feel overwhelmed at their choices. We invited a current CHD student, Lindsay Meyers, to talk about her experience and to share her thoughts on picking a topic-- especially a local one!
Picking a topic for your History Day project can be a stressful but exciting experience. There are over a million great topics but choosing just one can be very difficult. My first piece of advice on choosing a topic is to make sure that you enjoy what you’re researching. Find a topic that includes your interests. For example, along with history, I have a strong passion for science. My past two years, I did topics relating to science, so I got to do lots of historical research, and learn more about different scientific fields.
Finding a local topic may seem daunting, but it is actually really easy. The first thing I always do when searching for a local topic is research about my town, to see if there were any historical events that occurred that may relate to the theme. I also look back at all of my notes from my history class. A lot of my past history teachers would include a common historical figure or event that had an impact on my town or the state. This actually helped me find my topic for 2016’s theme: Exploration, Encounter, and Exchange. My middle school was named Rochambeau Middle School, after the French general that aided Washington during the Revolutionary War. In class we were learning about American history, and had a lesson in depth about Rochambeau. I found out that Rochambeau had actually camped with his army in my town, not too far from my house! I did some more research on my own, and found that he would be a great topic for the theme.
One benefit about choosing a local topic is the abundance of sources that are very close. The archive at the state library contained many letters and primary documents from Rochambeau, that helped my research immensely. I was able to get to see these real documents, and not have to travel far!
If these two steps do not help you find a local topic or a topic that interests you, ask your friends, family, peers, and teachers, if they know of any interesting people or stories that may relate to the theme. During the 2017 theme: Taking a Stand in History, my sisters and I struggled to choose a topic. We asked our parents about some people who took a stand in history, and my mom told us the story of our grandmother. My grandmother created the National Organization of Rare Diseases, (NORD), a worldwide organization that helps treat and aid people with rare diseases, such as Tourette. My sisters and I were quickly intrigued, and called our grandmother to learn more about her story. After hearing her incredible story, we realized how it connected to the theme, and chose our grandmother as our topic.
Don’t be afraid to pick topics that are not commonly known! My grandmother and NORD had never been done as a history day topic before, so getting to be one of the first person to research and present it made me very excited! It may be hard to find resources at first, but that’s what makes it fun. You get to be one of the first people to research the topic and analyze all of the sources for others to use in the future.
I hope that this will help you choose a topic for this year! Best of luck to everyone!
Are you feeling a little overwhelmed about helping your students with their History Day journey? We are here to help! Here at the state office, we're offering two special workshops and have CHD staff and volunteers who are excited to conduct a workshop in your classroom!
Upcoming Special Workshops:
Educator Workshop with NHD's Lynee O'Hara
Friday, October 12, 2018
Connecticut's Old State House
800 Main Street, Hartford, CT 06103
Join National History Day's Director of Programs, Lynne O'Hara to delve into this year's theme of Triumph and Tragedy in History and learn strategies for coaching your History Day student. Participants will receive a free theme book and other materials. Paid parking is available at State House Square Garage (55 Market Street). Register HERE.
Connecticut History Day Kick-Off Workshop (for Teachers AND Students)
Saturday, October 20, 2018
Thomas J. Dodd Research Center, University of Connecticut
405 Babbidge Road, Unit 1205. Storrs, CT 06269
Discuss this year's NHD theme of Triumph & Tragedy and brainstorm topic ideas with historians. Student participants will provide practical advice for enjoying the History Day experience and creating a successful project. Enjoy the opportunity to view some of the archives' treasures and learn about accessing primary documents with archivist Laura Smith. Register HERE.
Light refreshments will be served at the start of the workshop.
Can't make it to one of these special workshops? We can come to you! Schedule one of our FREE in-class workshops by calling (860)368-0738 or emailing email@example.com.
History Day 101: Introduction to Connectiuct History Day
Get your students excited and prepared to participate in CHD! Discover the many opportunities for student choice and exploration by hearing form past student partiicpants and viewing projects from previous years.
NEW! Introducing the 2019 NHD Theme: Triumph & Tragedy in History
Explore this year's NHD theme of Triumph & Tragedy in History. Brainstorm topic ideas and discuss how to link topics with the theme.
History Day 102: Project Check-In
Are your students on track with their projects? Do they need suggestions for improving their research and project creation? A History Day educator will come to your classroom and meet with students, provide suggestions, and strategies for their CHD journey.
Learn more about available CHD in-class workshops HERE.
In addition to workshops, there are other resources available to educators and students!
Connecticut History Day Website
The 2019 NHD Theme Book, CHD Educators Handbook, 2019 List of Connecticut Topics, CHD Student Handbook, and the NHD Rule Book (in English and Spanish) are all available right here on the website! Check here (the CHD Blog) frequently as posts will be updated every couple of weeks. Look for posts from students, teachers, and others!
Both NHD and CHD have facebook pages. Follow them to see highlighted materials and get updates on the program!
National History Day Website
There are a ton of wonderful resources for teachers on the NHD website. Check out the series of videos for new teachers along with curriculum materials! Want to learn more about this year's theme? Check out materials exploring Triumph & Tragedy in History (including a webinar) HERE.
Don't feel overwhelmed or alone! Contact the State Office at (860)368-0738 or email Rebecca.Taber-Conover@CTPublicAffairsNetwork.org if you have questions or need assistance!