X Ny History




The following step-by-step guide is intended to outline the History Day process for teachers. Distilled from our teacher workshops, the guide can help teachers structure their school program, or simply serve as a checklist. See our detailed list of steps here.


Step-by-Step Teacher’s Guide to History Day

  • Step 1: Introduce History Day
  • Step 2: Choosing Topics
  • Step 3: Choosing Projects
  • Step 4: Research and Analysis
  • Step 5: Creating Projects
  • Step 6: Competition
  • Step 7: Evaluation



• Choose a Program Format
• Can take place in one classroom
• Can be shared between two or more social studies teachers
• An interdisciplinary teaching team (Social Studies, ELA, Art, etc.) can be developed to make History Day a seamless part of your

• curriculum
• Can be implemented as an after
• Assess your school and local resources
•What are the resources you and your students have?
•What is the availability of technology?
•What access do you and your students have to secondary and primary sources?

• Use the following calendar to develop a strategy for your year.


•Introduce program to the students and answer their questions.
•Begin initial lessons from the NHD Theme Book on topics such as:
•Defining the Program and its rules
•Research techniques
•Primary and Secondary Sources
•Annual Theme

end of november

• Help students narrow their topics to specific people, events, etc.
• Assist students to develop clear and concise thesis statements.
• Make sure student topics relate clearly to the annual theme.


• Provide students with guided research activities, including note taking and annotated bibliography lessons.
• Have students select a project category.
• Help students conduct in depth research with primary sources.


• Encourage students to bolster their research where needed and help them draw conclusions from their evidence.
• Provide guidance as students build, write, create, and edit their projects.


• Students should complete their projects.
• Help them complete the other paperwork requirements, namely the Process Paper.
• Hold class, school or district competitions if needed.
• Register students for your local regional competition.


• Students compete in their regional competition.
• Students who advance to the state competition (1st and 2nd place winners in each category) should revise their projects using the judges feedback forms.
• Qualifying students must register for the state competition using the online registration system.


• Qualifying students compete at the state contest in Cooperstown.
• First and second place winners in every category should revise their projects for the national competition using the judges feedback forms.
• Qualifying students must register for the national contest using the online registration system.


• Qualifying students compete at the national contest at the University of Maryland in College Park.

running a school contest

Conducting a school level contest benefits your students and the quality of their projects. By providing an additional round of evaluation, school contests enable students to revise their projects before advancing to the regional contest. At a school contest, students gain experience with talking about or performing their project in a safe environment, which builds confidence in themselves and their History Day projects.

Click here for instructions on how to run a school contest


National History Day is a year-long academic program focused on historical research, interpretation and creative expression for 6th- to 12th-grade students. By participating in NHD, students become writers, filmmakers, web designers, playwrights and artists as they create unique contemporary expressions of history. The experience culminates in a series of contests at the local and affiliate levels and an annual national competition in the nation’s capitol in June.


An independent study from 2011 found that participation in the National History Day Contest benefits students far beyond the competition. National History Day not only transports classrooms back in time during the school year, it transforms young minds forever.


Visit the NHD Works page for results of the 2011 study.