X Ny History

Upcoming Events

  1. New York History Day Contest

    April 27
  2. National History Day Contest

    June 14 - June 18

Step-By-Step Guide

Step 1: Introduce history day

Key Goals:


  • Provide an overview of the History Day program
  • Introduce key learning themes and goals
  • Familiarize students with the program rules and guidelines





Helpful links:



Step 2: choosing topics

Key Goals:


• Topics must relate to the Annual Theme

• Topics should be broad enough to find good research, but narrow enough to have a focus

• Topics should demonstrate a larger historical impact



• Start from what you are studying

• Build on previous studies

• Brainstorm with students

• Share suggested topic lists

• Topics should be student selected

• You can set topic parameters to fit your curriculum

• Have students break down larger subjects

Step 3: choosing projects

Key Goals


    • Explore the project categories with students using the NHD Contest Rule Book and other resources:
      • Exhibits
      • Papers
      • Documentaries
      • Performances
      • Web Sites


    • Help students pick the category that best meets their skill level and fits with the topic




    • Be sure the topic fits the category:
      • Exhibits, web sites, documentaries need graphics
      • Performances need real direction
      • Papers require written skills
      • Web Sites require computer skills
    • Individual or Group Projects?
      • Stick to your comfort level
      • Consider who your students are
      • Look at what the research says: “In 67 studies of the achievement effects of cooperative learning, 61% found significantly greater achievement in cooperative groups than in traditionally taught control groups. Positive effects were found in all major subjects at all grade levels, in urban, rural, and suburban schools, and for high, average, and low achievers (Slavin, 1991).”


  • Each member should have clear responsibilities
  • Evaluate group behavior and participation
  • Consider the differing abilities of group members
  • Consider using learning contracts for meeting expectations

Step 4: research and analysis

Key Goals:


      • Research and analysis are the most important parts of the History Day program
      • Help students to:
        • ascertain the difference between primary and secondary sources
        • become familiar with source materials available at local libraries, museums, and archives
        • develop the organization skills needed to conduct effective research and to create annotated bibliographies
        • learn how to indentify the main idea from historic readings
        • identify a thesis statement and work to create their own arguments based on their historical research



      • Start with secondary sources, then move students to primary sources
      • Teach note taking skills to ensure students keep track of their sources
      • Provide in-class time with teacher guidance
      • Evaluate research along the way
      • Involve media specialists and language arts teachers
      • Reach out to parents to assist in student travel
      • Visit large libraries, archives, museums, historical sites as a class when possible
      • Encourage students to conduct personal interviews in person, on the telephone or over email

Step 5: creating projects

Key Goals:


      • Once their research is complete, and the students have a clearly identified thesis statement and supporting evidence, they can create their projects
      • Students also must write a 500 word Process Paper that summarizes their entire experience with the program



      • Students must be clear on requirements prior to starting. They should consult the NHD Contest Rule Book often while creating their projects
      • Post the category requirements around the room for easy reference
      • All students should have a complete planning document or rough draft before starting to create their final project
      • Students will try to create before they ever research. You must be strong; don’t allow students to proceed with production until planning is complete
      • Allow some in class time for students to work
      • Be sure and spend some time going over basic design principles
      • Share examples of student projects
      • Do periodic checks of student work
      • Have students complete weekly planners that outline their progress

Step 6: competition

Key Goals:


      • Students may choose to enter their project in History Day competition
      • Help students understand the structure and process of competing at a History Day contest
      • Competition can start at the school level and continues up to a national level



      • Review the contest structure and process
      • Review the judging criteria
      • Practice the judging process using evaluation forms and sample judging questions
      • Identify the characteristics of good sportsmanship


Key Goals:


      • Students should be evaluated on their work habits, including (but not limited to):
      • Using time effectively
      • Showing good time management
      • Respecting others
      • Keeping areas clean
      • Using quality resources



      • Evaluation should be an ongoing process
      • Make evaluation a part of the classroom structure
        • You can determine how the evaluations will be distributed
        • You can pick and choose from multiple rubric examples that cover all parts of the project
        • They allow for feedback that provides a complete picture of the students’ work


      • Evaluations help lay the ground work for future student success