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Showing posts from September, 2017

Trusting in the (Learning) Journey

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Creating a large-scale endeavor like a National History Day project takes time. Going through the process for the first time can be overwhelming for teachers and students alike. It's critical to remember, though, that it is a journey.
These projects are rigorous and require many steps. Too often we expect immediate gratification--this is not the type of project that will offer quick results.  Students will be thinking, reflecting, pre-searching (to use a colleague's term), researching, selecting a topic in US History they are passionate about, locating primary and secondary sources, writing a research question, developing a thesis, grappling with this year's theme and applying it to their topic, writing digital note cards, keeping track of resources, developing a project, ensuring they place their topic in historical situational context, creating a process paper to reflect on their experience, and possibly back-tracking and at any point if they lose focus. 
Students will …

This Week in NHD

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I've been trying to come up with a way to update our National History Day journey when the name jumped out at me--I suddenly remembered "This Week in Baseball", a sports show I used to watch with my Grandpa when I was a kid. (Google it for some great baseball memories!) "This Week in NHD" it is! I met with all 8th Grade US History students again yesterday and we completed a few business tasks--we logged onto NoodleTools, the website that will help us organize our sources and ideas this year, joined the Schoology 8th Grade NHD Group I made for all 8th Graders so that I can easily send every student, not just my students, information and resources, gave a brief overview of the project this year, and shared the Symbaloo Webmix I created for them. 
This Webmix is going to become an essential resource. The necessary resources are all in a user-friendly format, color-coded and organized for ease of use. I will add tiles to the mix as the need arises and I look forwa…

NHD Topic Ideas

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Our first foray into preparing for National History Day went really well last week. I saw every 8th Grader throughout the day for a mini-lesson and front loading the topic with the students was definitely the way to proceed! The Explain Everything worked really well and afforded students the opportunity to brainstorm without worrying about the specifics of the contest--they could just spend some time thinking about US History.

The image above is proof that our students do have a working knowledge of US History, my job now is to help them find topics that fit the theme and that have primary sources to support their eventual theses.

Another critical role for me is to make sure the student finds a topic they are passionate about. I always need to remember this learning journey is based on Genius Hour. They will spend many hours researching and learning about their topic, it must be something they care about.

My task this week is to introduce the main components of the project, the Symba…

NHD Theme Introduction Video

I created an Explain Everything video for all schools to use when introducing this year's National History Day theme. Teachers can show this to the whole class at once and pause regularly so that students will be able to work throughout the class period.
I will have students complete this introduction BEFORE I even discuss the NHD project! Frontloading students to think about the theme and provide examples using think, pair, share activities worked REALLY WELL last year. It prevented students from feeling overwhelmed and frustrated, uncertain that they could ever think of a topic. This year's theme is more challenging than last year's theme and that makes this method of delivery even more  necessary for student success. By the end of class students will have a list of topics to begin to research. They will also be able to find a topic that speaks to them and sparks their interest.

Week One is In the Books!

The first week of school went by so quickly! Student Historians were busy taking part in various stations that represent important facets of our classroom this year. One station consisted of deciding, as a small group, what an ideal teacher, student, and classroom looked like (using details and sensory examples). 
They completed  an online survey for me to get to know more about them as an individual (I now have a spreadsheet with a wealth of information regarding their likes, dislikes, and facts they feel I should know about them)!
Another station had them explain, on a paper coffee cup, who in History they would most like to have a cup of coffee (or hot chocolate, or lemonade) with and why. Still another was a textbook and syllabus investigation searching for the "specifics" of the course. Students also surveyed one another to find out how they spent their summer and what they might have in common with their new table mates.
These activities, as I later pointed out, empha…