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Archive for September, 2010

Sampling of Topic Ideas for D&D

Wednesday, September 29th, 2010

Our first History Day workshop of the year, held yesterday at the History Center, was a fun and interesting discussion about “Debate and Diplomacy in History.” History Day staff and teachers considered the meanings of the words debate and diplomacy, the complexities of this theme for students, and the surprisingly vast array of potential topics.

A sampling of some of the fascinating topics discussed at the workshop:

  • The Equal Rights Amendment. Since 1923, the federal Equal Rights Amendment, requiring equal rights for men and women, has failed to be ratified by the necessary number of states. Supporters and opponents have debated the issue for decades. It is still being debated, and three states are currently needed to ratify.
  • U.S. films in European markets. In the 1940s, American filmmakers negotiated with European governments to allow more U.S. films to be shown in overseas theaters, due to falling domestic markets. Many European countries were reluctant. These new relationships changed the film industry, especially its economics.
  • Loving v. Virginia. In 1967, the U.S. Supreme Court unanimously declared Virginia’s anti-miscegenation, or ban on interracial marriage, to be unconstitutional. The case overturned an 1883 Supreme Court decision and ended all race-based legal restrictions on marriage in the United States
  • The Three-Fifths Compromise. During the Constitutional Convention, the delegates agreed upon a compromise that counted blacks as three-fifths of a person. This compromise, in answer to a debate regarding taxes and representation and as part of a debate between large and small states, changed the South’s representation in Congress and strengthened the stronghold of slavery in that region.

Stay tuned for more topic ideas, or attend our second theme workshop on Tues., Nov. 16.

Teacher Workshops Available for all Experience Levels

Tuesday, September 21st, 2010

Teacher workshop season officially begins next week. Whether you are a new or veteran History Day teacher, we have workshops that will guide you along the path to History Day success.

The Theme Workshop: Debate and Diplomacy in History. Tues., Sept. 28 and Tues., Nov. 16. Explore this year’s theme, get ideas for presenting Debate and Diplomacy to students, and walk away with many topic ideas.

Ultimate Introductory Teacher Workshop. Tues., Nov. 9 and Wed., Dec. 1. Get everything you need to know to get your History Day program up and running. History Day staff will present teaching strategies, and History Day students will present their projects.

Advanced Classroom Management Workshop. Thurs., Dec. 2. For our more veteran teachers, this is an opportunity to learn from your peers and get new ideas for improving or expanding your program. Recommended for teachers who have participating for a few years.

Hands-on History Day Technology: Documentaries and Websites. Thurs., Dec. 9. The technology categories, documentaries and websites, can be complicated to teach and can present students with presentation challenges. This hands-on workshop will allow teachers to play the student and learn how to teach the best ways to use the technology categories.

If you have questions about workshops, call 651-259-3440 or e-mail Mary Ecker.

More moving into the Digital Age: The Intro Pack CD

Tuesday, September 14th, 2010

Early each fall, History Day teachers rush to their mailboxes in anticipation of the coveted “History Day Intro Pack,” a folder of brightly colored pieces of paper explaining the ins and outs of the History Day universe. As they tear open the large manila folders to expose the colorful folder within, teachers can finally satisfy their curiosity about the new workshops offered, the new teaching materials available, and of course, the yearly national changes to the website category.

Perhaps it is not so exciting as that. But the intro packs do mark the official beginning of the History Day season, and whether or not teachers are clamoring for their print copy of the theme narrative, the information provided at the start of the school year seeks to give teachers a solid foundation on which to build their 2010-2011 program.

This year, the History Day staff has edged closer to the digital age and has transferred the intro pack to CD form. Most of the resources usually offered in the intro pack will be on the CD, as well as many additional materials, such as thesis statement curricula. Program deadlines and competition process information are also prominent in the new CD, in an effort to provide as much information as possible on the front end. Few of these materials are available on our website; the CD and intro pack only go out to enrolled teachers.

The intention of the CD was to make information more easily accessible to teachers, compress all of the somewhat-overwhelming data into a nice digital package, allow teachers to keep all materials in one compact location, and save paper. The capabilities of a CD allow the History Day staff to include much more helpful program info for teachers.

For you purists and paper-company supporters out there, we are still providing the paper copies this year to aid in the transition. The History Day staff intends to survey teachers about the CD, and based on that feedback, it might mean an end to the stacks of brightly colored paper. For this year, at least, you will have your choice of either, so keep watch on your school mailbox … the packets will be arriving shortly.

Plot Out Your History Day Calendar

Tuesday, September 7th, 2010

The great thing about History Day is that it can be molded to fit just about any school schedule, whether you are on a block, a traditional six-period day, or working with an after-school program. There are endless possibilities for structuring your program, but the History Day staff has assembled a recommended schedule to provide guidance and approximate deadlines throughout the year.


  • Introduce History Day to your students. Explain the rules, the categories, the theme, and encourage them to start thinking about topics.

Before Winter Break

  • Have students and parents sign a contract. The contract ensures that both students and parents know the obligations of the History Day project and that students are committed to completing assignments related to the project.
  • Group choice. Students determine if they will work individually or in groups, with full understanding of the pros and cons of both choices.
  • Topic choice. Students choose a topic that relates to the theme. The topic may narrow, or become more specific, as the year progresses.
  • Category choice. Students decide which category they will use to present their topic. Some topics lend themselves to particular categories.
  • Preliminary research. Many teachers will have students conducting early research before the new year. Much of this early research may be from the internet.

Early January

  • Continue research. Students should begin to visit libraries and more sophisticated online repositories to find primary and secondary sources.
  • Develop first draft of thesis statement. As students’ research expands, they should determine their thesis. The thesis, or their central argument, is a work in progress at this stage.

Late January/Early February

  • Complete research. Students should have a good mix of primary and secondary sources.
  • Develop a rough draft. At this stage, students should be able to compose a rough draft of their script or text blocks. An annotated bibliography should also be in the works.


  • Project completed. Most schools will conduct their school History Day events at this time, so students’ projects should be completed and teachers should have had an opportunity to view them.


  • Regional events. In March, 12 regional events take place across the state. Visit our website to find your regional event date.


  • State History Day. Sunday, May 1, 2011.