This week, many Connecticut teachers and students will be returning to the classroom. We are looking forward to another exciting year working with you!
This year, National History Day (NHD) is introducing a brand new theme, Breaking Barriers in History. The NHD annual theme serves as a lens for students to explore the past and focus their research and analysis. You can download this year’s theme book HERE. The theme narrative is on Pages 5-6. That document is an important one to share with students. Connecticut History Day staff and volunteers are also glad to come and do a Theme Workshop in your classroom at no charge.
Instead of rewriting the theme narrative, I’d like to offer some suggestions and ideas for exploring this year’s Annual Theme.
Students often choose topics that they are familiar with and that feel “safe" because they have been covered in the classroom. Encourage students to consider local topics. Each year, CHD staff gathers ideas from museum and history colleagues that results in 30+ page list of Connecticut topics related to the Annual Theme. For every national trend, a local example can be found. We post that list HERE. Connecticuthistory.org is a great place to search for potential topics.
If students want to explore a well-known topic, encourage them to think creatively. I am sure this year we will see a lot of Jackie Robinson projects about how he broke the color barrier in baseball. What about Jackie Robinson’s involvement in the establishment of Freedom National Bank, an African-American-owned financial institution located in Harlem? Did Jackie Robinson break any barriers by refusing to move to the back of an Army bus? Did baseball executive Branch Rickey has any role in breaking the color barrier in baseball? Instead of studying Jackie Robinson, what about discovering the person who broke the color barrier in basketball or hockey?
This year’s theme of Breaking Barriers in History is an exciting one. We can’t wait to see what topics your students will be exploring!