It is real. Here we go. Another academic year is in full swing. Students are settled into routine and I am throwing a wrench into the works with a new project? National History Day. Thing is, they?re excited. They?re ready to tell the story of someone Taking a Stand, this year?s project theme.
I have had my own social studies classroom for seven years now, but this is my eighth year as a National History Day teacher; I started as a student teacher in Chicago. Right away I could recognize the value of this student-centered, inquiry-based program. Students love this work! It is work, but they do it joyfully because it is based on their interests, their talents and adults listen to them instead of the other way around.
I have taught with NHD in a huge high school in Chicago. I have taught with this program at a small charter high school. When I relocated to my childhood hometown of Indianapolis, I took a middle school position at a parochial school. With the new challenges presented by teaching three different grade levels, I took a step back from using NHD as a part of my curriculum, opting instead to start an after-school club for enrichment.
This is the first year I am returning to using this as middle school curriculum. I chose to do this to allow each of my students the opportunity to read, write, and create on a new level. Some are making museum displays. Others are creating documentaries, websites, or performances. At least one brave soul is setting out to write a research paper that would meet the criteria for an undergraduate course.
This year I will be sharing stories from my classroom, and maybe those that I visit. You can follow us from your room to see the process first-hand. I hope to share what we learn to help make it easier for you to participate this year. If you have questions along the way, or have stories to share, feel free to write RBindewald@ollindy.org.