When Mr. Farr came into my classroom after school one day, I had no reason to think my life would change forever. On this fateful day, he casually asked how I was and had I ever heard of National History Day? As a matter of fact, I had "heard" of it, but still had no idea what it was or how it related to me and my 8th grade US History classes.
Fast forward 8 years...I learned what an amazing program National History Day is to teach students not just to learn and memorize facts about history, but how to "do" history. History is a living breathing subject that has the potential for so much more than a timeline in the back of a book (or a boring powerpoint lecture).
I taught with National History for all of my students-not just the "honors" students. When I say all, I mean ALL. Students would often tell me that they knew when they were assigned to my class (general education, resource integration, English language learners) that they knew they would be doing a History Day Project. Some were excited, others not so much...until they found out that they could research what they wanted...They could learn about what they were interested in...They could make history come alive in a way that was meaningful to their passions, hopes, dreams, families.
That is the MAGIC of National History Day! Some students would compete in the yearly district, state and National competition. Others were happy to be done and proud of their journey through learning. But, I will tell you this- I still have students tell me years after leaving my class that they will NEVER forget what they learned in their History Day Project. For an 8th grade US History teacher, that makes my heart happy and the work worth it every time!