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Students Teach (and learn) History with National History Day

Blog Type:  Middle School
Date Posted:  Monday, April 8, 2019

Every year National History Day (NHD) celebrates and supports students around the world to conduct historical research on a topic of their choice. The annual theme frames students’ research within a historical theme. The theme is chosen for the broad application to world, national, or state history and its relevance to ancient history or to the more recent past. This year’s theme is Triumph and Tragedy in History. The intentional selection of the theme for NHD is to provide an opportunity for students to push past the antiquated view of history as mere facts and dates and drill down into historical content to develop deep perspective and understanding.

During this competition, 8th grade students chose how they would exhibit their historical research. They picked between creating a website, documentary, performance, paper or presentation.

The projects took around four months to produce and were eventually selected to compete at the Alameda County Competition level. From there, some projects were selected by judges to participate in the State competition. This year, the following projects were honored to compete at the State level:


Exhibit: The Chinese Exclusion Act: How it Impacts Immigration Today (Sara and Katherine)

Documentary: Angel Island: a History of Chinese Immigration (Charlotte and Léonor):

Website: John Knox and the Scottish Reformation (Jack):

As the Middle School Social Studies teacher, I particularly enjoy teaching the skills necessary to excel in this project because I know that they are skills that students will use in high school and college, from academic research of primary and secondary sources to creating an annotated bibliography in MLA (Modern Language Association) format.

It is so rewarding to see students present projects of such a high level, teaching new material to anyone who has the good fortune of looking at the projects in detail.