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Page history last edited by Rob Darrow 1 year, 11 months ago

History Day Teacher Guide / Class Lessons - 6th-12th

Updated for Alameda County History Day. October 2017. Rob Darrow. 


Note: This ‘guide’, originally developed by Mississippi History Day has been updated for use in California for Alameda County History day teachers and students with the help of teachers in Alameda County.

Modify it however it works best for you.

The concepts taught fit with the Common Core Standards and the new History Social Science Framework.  


Documents/Handouts to Download and Use for History Day Teachers' Guide (6th-12th) - Word Docs or Convert to Google Docs







Class #1: Intro to California State History Day (NHD-CA) National History Day (NHD)

  • Note: Teachers may want to review the 8 Steps of Historical Research to share with students as needed. The resources, worksheets and organizers may be transferred to Google docs. Worksheets and organizers here:  http://acoehistoryday.pbworks.com/
  • Show: HD Intro Video (https://youtu.be/cqwRQYLxaYc )
  • Share: History Day Intro PowerPoint
  • Discuss ways to present research / categories (paper, exhibit, documentary, website or performance)
  • Discuss theme and topic ideas (best to choose a ‘small’ topic with a ‘huge’ impact).  
  • Note: Less-experienced students can be overwhelmed by the sample topic list.  Some teachers make their own ‘sample topic list’, choosing topic ideas connected to that year’s curriculum or subjects that students have studied in classes, previously. 
  • ASSIGNMENT: Review state and NHD websites – links above, to peruse and report what they find (suggestion = 10 pieces of information from each website)  
  • Option: Many teachers have found student/parent contracts very helpful to this process and may want to have a parent meeting to discuss the program if students will be competing at the county level.  
  • Option: Read the California History Day Rulebook (https://www.nhdca.org/contest-rules) and the National History Day Rulebook (https://www.nhd.org/sites/default/files/Contest-Rule-Book_2.pdf) .  



Class #2: Information Management and Begin Topic Selection

  • Students share what they found on NHD-CA and NHD websites.
  • • Discuss: Share HD Intro PowerPoint.
  • • Discuss information management system – how will you keep your information and research organized? Paper or digital or online? This is a year-long project, so a binder with dividers or folders and documents on a computer or on online tool like Noodle Tools will help students organize their information. 
  • • Discuss: Topic selection is very important. It is helpful for the teacher to choose a great ‘example topic’, one about which students have prior knowledge, which will be developed and shared throughout the process. Spend class time discussing students’ interests, and topic selection guidelines (topic or person should be at least 25 years old; available resources; consider context, alternative perspectives and impact). 
  • • Discuss Worksheet: “Choosing a History Day topic”. Discuss different ways to complete this (web search, talk with family members, explore something in history they like, etc.)
  • ASSIGN: Students complete worksheet, “Choosing a History Day topic” to share next class.


Option: Consider using “History Day BINGO” as part of this process.



Class #3: Basic Research Skills, Note-taking, Tracking Sources for Bibliography

  • Note: This lesson could be done in collaboration with your school librarian.
  • Students share possible ‘HD topics’.
  • Discuss: MLA or Turabian format for annotated bibliography.
  • Discuss basic research skills, note-taking, keeping track of bibliography information (easybib.com, NoodleTools http://www.noodletools.com/tools/nhd.php , etc.)
  • ASSIGNMENT: Students identify 3 primary sources and 3 secondary sources they can use based on their topic. 



Class #4: Continued: Topic Selection, Research, Bibliography Info

  • Students share their initial topic choice, discuss with class.
  • Discuss: Project Grading/Checklist (Note: Can be modified based on what you want to teach). 
  • Discuss secondary and primary resources; discuss note-taking skills and bibliography. Remind students NOT to cite Wikipedia, and discuss the reasoning.  
  • Discuss worksheet: “Organizer Notes and Bibliography” 
  • ASSIGNMENT: Worksheet: Organizer Notes and Bibliography.  Notes (5 facts from each source) and bibliography information from 1 secondary source and 1 primary source.  


Class #5: Narrowing Topic

  • Students share the information they found about their initial topic choice, discuss with class.  Continue discussion about research, primary and secondary sources, tracking resources. Make sure students have a viable process for keeping track of their research notes and bibliography information.
  • Share project examples (http://www.nhd.org/project-examples)  
  • Discuss worksheet: “Narrowing Topic.” What is the key idea or essence of your research?  
  • ASSIGN: Narrowing Topic, Do You Have a Good Topic? and 4 additional sources, 5 facts from each. 



Class #6: Final Topic Choice, Fact Store

  • Although there will be ‘wiggle room’, as students delve deeper into their research, they should have a pretty good handle on their final topic. 
  • As students continue their research, they should begin to sort the information into the categories. 
  • Discuss: Worksheet: “Final Topic Selection”   
  • Discuss: Project Grading Checklist 
  • ASSIGN: Worksheet: Final Topic Selection Worksheet.



Class #7: Thesis Statements – the FOUNDATION of NHD Projects



Class #8:Thesis Statements, Continued

  • Students can share their thesis drafts, and class can discuss/offer suggestions.
  • Review:  note-taking, adding resources (should have 10 by this time, 7 secondary and 3 primary), tracking bibliography information, etc.
  • Peer sharing: Students share thesis statements, receive feedback.
  • Refine thesis statement.
  • ASSIGN: 2nd draft of thesis statement. Worksheet: Thesis Statement




Class #9:Turning Information into Outlines and Storyboards

  • Discuss: Process of creating an outline, script or storyboard from research completed.  
  • Discuss: Graphic Organizers / Organizers each type of project. Students choose one.  
  • ASSIGN: Graphic organizer or organizer or outline for selected project.
    • Organizer: Outline for paper, documentary or performance script 
    • Organizer: Exhibit 
    • Organizer: Website 
    • Organizer: Process Paper  



Class #10:Pre-Project Components Complete. 

  • Note: Check the Checklist / Grading guide and determine how much of the project you want students to complete. This lesson could be the end of the class lessons. If you want to have students complete an entire project, then the remaining lessons relate to that.
  • Review students’ thesis statements. Thesis statements can still be developed, as research supports or changes arguments, but students should have a working thesis at this time.
  • Share and discuss “Project / Grading Checklist”  
  • Share project examples: http://www.nhd.org/StudentProjectExamples.htm
  • ASSIGN: Finish 2-page process paper and plan, annotated bibliography and outline/sketch of proposed project
  • ASSIGN: Complete Project/Grading Checklist for your project. (Could have students complete this form for other student projects submitted)




Further classes below if desired, leading to participating in a school or County History Day Contest 


Class #:Historical Context and Alternate Perspectives – challenging, but necessary facets of NHD projects

  •  Instruct historical analysis, Instruction for Historical Analysis.
  • Please present additional examples of historical context and alternate perspective evidence.
  • Resource: https://www.usm.edu/history/national-history-day-instructional-materials 
  • ASSIGN: research secondary sources (minimum of 3), specifically, for historical context and alternate perspectives.
  • ASSIGN: Historical Context/ Alternate Perspectives activity, Historical Context Graphic Organizer is just one possibility.



Class #: Process Paper and Annotated Bibliography (no process paper for Historical Paper project category),

  •  Instruct Process Paper and share examples (more can be found at nhd.org, student project examples) 
  • • Instruct Annotated Bibliography (some instructors prefer easybib.com or Noodle Tools http://www.noodletools.com/tools/nhd.php
  • • Show Examples of Process Papers and Annotated Bibliography: http://www.nhd.org/StudentProjectExamples.htm
  • • ASSIGN: Process Paper Notes and some bibliography work – at least 3 primary and 3 secondary sources, to assure that students understand the concept. 



Class # : Finish Projects - Put on class or school History Day 



Class #:Class or School Contest – Put on your own History Day.




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