Teacher Resources - National History Day Mentoring Program

"The task of the excellent teacher is to stimulate 'apparently ordinary' people to unusual effort. The tough problem is not in identifying winners: it is in making winners out of ordinary people."
K. Patricia Cross

"A teacher affects eternity; he can never tell where his influence stops."
Henry Adams

Pat Cross's declaration seems particularly appropriate for those who lead their students into National History Day.  It is indeed a program that includes contests and competition, but for us, as educators, NHD is not really about the contest.  It is about creating opportunities for 'apparently ordinary' students to achieve 'extraordinary' results.  NHD provides a vehicle that allows students to achieve things they never thought possible.


Registration is now open!!!!

The 2013 Teacher Workshop was a resounding success.  We are preparing the schedule for our 2014 Teacher Workshop.  We will convene July 15-18.  Check back regularly for announcements and information about future workshops.  You can register here!

As you know, the adoption and implementation of the Common Core in Georgia schools began in earnest this year.  Ann Claunch and the National Curriculum Team have prepared a Common Core/NHD Correlation worksheet.  This tremendously valuable resource can be found HERE!

The 2014 theme is 'Rights and Responsibilities in History'.  Last used in 2003, this theme calls upon your students to consider the relationship between right and responsibility in society.  It can be a challenging certainly, but it is also very rewarding.  Check out the following resources:

2014 Theme Sheet
2014 Theme Book

Online Theme Discussion!!!

NHD's online discussion series continues.  The questions and their answers are posted at the organization's site for your review.  Stay tuned for announcements regarding future discussions. 

Resources for Teachers

NHD in the classroom - This is a section of the NHD website dedicated to teacher support.  Start here!

The Georgia Historical Society has developed a series of resources that can be very, very helpful.  Thanks to GHS's Education Coordinator S. Sineath for providing these materials!

GHS Education Brochure
Primary Sources in the Classroom
Where to Find Primary Sources

National History Day Resources at the Library of Congress -  'Some Models of Significance'

The National Archives and Records Administration  The National Archives maintains an online teacher clearinghouse of resources tied to National History Day and its annual theme.  You can check the page out here .

Chronicling America offers students free access to nearly five million pages of hyper-local stories, advertisements, and opinions published between 1836 and 1922 in 28 states (and growing) across the country. In addition, EDSITEment, NEH's educational website for teachers, students, and parents, will develop new educator and student resources to facilitate and encourage use of the newspaper material."  Visit Chronicling America !

The Society of American Archivists has an online tool kit for NHD teachers and students that can be found at National History Day and Archivists Page . 

Entry Development

The Thesis Statement 

The heart and soul of any history day project is the thesis statement.  It is the fundamental point you wish to make. Building them requires time and effort.  When building one remember the general guidelines - 

  • Keep it short. Thesis statements should hover between 40-60 words. Too short, and there’s not enough information to explain the argument. Too long, and too many details have been included. Plus, if the students are creating an exhibit, and they only have 500 student-composed words to use, it doesn’t make sense to use up 100 of those words on just the thesis.
  • Include all five W’s. The thesis is the first thing the viewer reads, so we should know immediately the who-what-where-when, and also the why-is-this-important.
  • Include the theme words. Judges and teachers need to know how the topic relates to the theme, especially if the topic is obscure, extremely narrow, or isn’t immediately clear in its connection to the theme words.
  • Leave facts out, put arguments in. We don’t need to see every detail of the topic in the thesis. Leave those for the project itself. What we need to see in the thesis is the student’s argument, or the point he/she is trying to make.
  • Write, revise, research, revise. Students should not use the first draft of their thesis statement, but instead should revise based on feedback, go back to their research or conduct new research to make sure the thesis is accurate, and then revise once more.  (http://education.mnhs.org/historyday/news/blog/short-sweet-and-point-thesis-statements)

The folks at Minnesota NHD have also created a handy video entitled "What's your Point?"  This is the essence of a thesis statement.  Check it out here!

Erin Burns, Reference Librarian at Penn State University Wilkes-Barre developed a presentation on thesis development in support of Pennsylvania NHD in 2012.  Although the theme is 2012's and not 2014's it is very, very well done.  You can have a look at Ms. Burns' presentation here.  Please note that Ms. Burns' presentation will load as a pdf.

Your students can use an online thesis builder here.  There is also the online 'Thesis Builder' 

You can also ask your students to use this Thesis worksheet

The staff of Lewis Library have developed a Library Guide for LaGrange College Cornerstone students that introduces them to the basics of conducting research, proper citation and even avoiding plagiarism.  NHD students might find this useful at various points in the process.  Have a look here.

Website guide (Courtesy NHD Texas and NHD Washington) - Powerpoint presentation (loaded as a pdf) that introduces and reviews the Website category.

Documentary - The guide to Documentary building can be found here .  Notice the page includes the 2009 junior individual documentary winner.    

Exhibits - The NHD Exhibit guide can be found here .  Notice it includes a national winner sample. 

Performance - The NHD Historical Performance guide can be found here .  Here's an example of an NHD winner from 2009.
Historical Paper - The NHD Paper guide can be found here .  It includes a link to a 2009 National winning paper.

The National office of NHD has created an 'Examples' page that includes award winning entries from all categories.  Have a look!

Annotated Bibliography - In some ways the most challenging (and arguably important) component of an NHD project, preparing an effective bibliography can be daunting for students.  Check out the LibGuide prepared by the staff of Lewis Library on ANNOTATIONS  - It's great!

Here's a process paper and annotated bibliography guide prepared by the folk at Minnesota NHD

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Contact Information

Kevin Shirley
Program Coordinator
Phone 706-880-8033
Email: kshirley@lagrange.edu

Contact the Program
Email: nhdhistory@lagrange.edu
Phone 706-880-8174