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Thursday, October 25, 2012

Common Core and National History Day

If you teach 6-12th grade ...

As you look to realign your curriculum to meet Common Core, I'd encourage you to take another look at National History Day.

What is National History Day? NHD is a project based curriculum that has students grade 6-12 investigate a historical topic related to the annual theme, by conducting primary and secondary research. After they have worked to analyzed and interpret your sources, and have drawn a conclusion about the significance of their topics, students will then be able to present their work in one of five ways: as a paper, an exhibit, a performance, a documentary, or a web site.

You can use the NHD curriculum without having students participate in the NHD contests--but for many students the contest motivates them to do their best work. At the regional contests in Missoula (sometime in March or early April, Date to be announced) and Billings (March 30), and at the state contest in Billings in April, students may submit their work, where it will be judged by professional educators and historians. Winners at the state NHD contest, are eligible to attend the Kenneth E. Behring National History Day Contest at the University of Maryland at College Park in June. This is where the best National History Day projects from across the United States, American Samoa, Guam, International Schools and Department of Defense Schools in Europe all meet and compete.

So, how does this relate to Common Core? The New Common Core standards emphasize teaching historical practice (for example, analyzing primary sources, comparing multiple sources, using evidence to support claims), reading informational texts (including both primary and secondary sources), conducting research, and presenting well-reasoned evidence-based arguments. And guess what? This is exactly what a well-run National History Day program will require of students. (Curious? Check out this link on how NHD curriculum aligns with the common core).

Want to know more? In Montana, NHD is spearheaded by MSU-Billings. Their website has many valuable resources for both teachers and students--including information on how to fit NHD into your curriculum, suggestions for topics related to world or national history, research assistance, and more.
Want to talk with someone before getting involved? Either Ben Nordlund or Tom Rust (406) 247-5785) would be happy to provide additional more information.

P.S. Every year National History Day frames students' research within a historical theme. Chosen for the broad application to world, national or state history, the theme helps students push past the antiquated view of history as mere facts and dates and drill down into historical content to develop perspective and understanding. This year's theme is "Turning Points: People, Ideas, Events." The Montana Historical Society has posted bibliographies relating to some of the major turning points in Montana history as a starting point for student research.  

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