Reflecting on National History Day

National History Day projects have wrapped up for all but a few students in my classes. Six students are competing next Saturday in the Michigan History Day State Competition and had time to reflect and enhance their projects between the March 4th District competition and the State Competition. These students represent three different projects: a group website centered on Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall and his work toward equality for African-Americans, a poem about the achievements of the Culper Spy Network during the American Revolution, and a dramatic performance about former First Lady Jackie Kennedy's stand to save Lafayette Square from demolition.

As I've previously written, the National History Day process has been a new endeavor for me and for my classes this year. Since none of this process is familiar to me I've had to reflect on each component during and after in order to put it into context and, more importantly, decide if it was a worthwhile project for my students. Reflection is such a critical component of deep learning and I was so pleased to see that all students selected at Districts to compete at State Competition are encouraged to analyze judges' feedback and make changes to their entries before the next event. I have been helping to guide my students through this enhancement process and have told each of them how impressed I am with their stamina. They have been working on this assignment since the fall but none has lost steam. Adolescents tend to be ready for what's new, not having patience to look back but these Historians have reflected and improved their projects. I look forward to seeing how they will shine at States!

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