With the onset of the cold weather, the ending of fall sports, and the beginning of the second quarter, many students are diving into their NHD projects for 2018. Students have been thinking of topics that they can relate to the theme, but it is time to get serious and begin the most important part of a National History Day project, the research! Students have one of my favorite themes to work with this year, Conflict and Compromise in History. Almost every topic in history has been met with some sort of conflict that resulted in a compromise at some point. It is a theme students can clearly understand and relate to. We live in a world surrounded by conflict. The evening news is filled with reports of conflicts and compromises being discussed on the local, state, national and global stages. Most current day concerns have a long-standing history students may be interested in researching, such as tax codes and health care. What implemented the first tax codes? When did states adopt personal property taxes? Who started the first healthcare company? Implemented policies? For whose benefit? When did it become a government issue? Which war brought the healthcare issue to the forefront? Which war began the first healthcare program for veterans? All of these questions relate to current issues, but with interesting histories to investigate.
It is very important to keep students organized from the beginning of the research process. I highly recommend using the NoodleTools program for this purpose. Students can write a working thesis statement, type research questions, organize note cards, keep an interactive outline, and add to an ongoing bibliography all in one spot. Groups can collaborate and share their work with each other and their teacher’s drop box. The best part is no lost documents!
As students select their topics, teachers should encourage them to pick a topic that they are personally interested in. Students who select a topic that has a connection to a family or local history, generally develop into very strong projects. Students should make a list of all of their individual interests and explore possible topic ideas. Their preliminary research should include trying to locate available primary and secondary resources. Are there more resources available for one topic over another? As the holidays are approaching, I encourage students to talk to family members. Ask questions and find out their own family history. Do they have a relative who might be a potential expert on a topic they can possibly interview?
My best advice to you is to have fun, explore the new topics your students uncover along with them. You will find it to be rewarding and inspiring. You never know whom you will meet. NHD not only helps students to grow, but teachers as well! The more engaged you become in the process, the more your students will gain from the experience! Check out the special programs offered just for educators, there's something for everyone. It is not too late to apply for the some wonderful programs! Applications are being accepted for the Albert H. Small Normandy Institute: Sacrifice for Freedom 2018. I promise it will be a life changing experience for you!
Connecticut History Day Teacher