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TPS & National History Day Educator Workshop – Exploration, Encounter, and Exchange

NHD State Historian - William Convery
State Historian – William Convery

The 4th Annual TPS/National History Day collaborative workshop was held on August 6th and 7th at History Colorado in Denver. Fifty educators from all across Colorado came for the event, which consisted of professional development focusing around the national theme of Exploration, Encounter, and Exchange throughout history. The theme was left intentionally broad in order to encompass students from all backgrounds and allow them to gain a deep understanding of historical content from around the world.

Celeste Archer, director of external relations at NHD in Colorado, sums up the power of NHD, “National History Day Colorado allows kids to dive into their passion. They get to pick how they learn it. That’s the value of project-based learning, that’s the value of National History Day. And, NHDC gives teachers a standards aligned opportunity to be educators – to show their passion too, for teaching and learning.”

State Historian, William Convery, kicked off the event introducing NHD and gave a few examples of Colorado topics, including Amache-Granada and Bent’s Fort, for teachers to use as resources for their lesson plans.

The Badlands Warrior - Theodore Roosevelt
The Badlands Warrior – Theodore Roosevelt

Then, Keith Patterson, Project Coordinator for Teaching with Primary Sources at MSU Denver gave an overview of the vast amount of resources for teachers that the Library of Congress has to offer, leaving the crux of the learning for the breakout sessions. He led the discussion with a primary source analysis of a mystery photo that session attendees hadn’t seen before. “It is always nice to do a visual primary source analysis to help teachers breakdown conflicting primary sources, such as the Wide-Awake Club. We get consistent feedback that these types of analytical skills are needed for NHD projects and to succeed academically,” says Patterson. “Analyzing Library of Congress primary source documents helps enrich student’s contextual understanding as well as their critical thinking skills.” By introducing mystery photos in the classroom, teachers can use the Library of Congress Primary Source Analysis Tool that focuses on group discussions in three steps: observe, reflect, and question.

There were three breakout sessions that took place during the first day, Teachers New to NHDC: History Day 101, Elementary Teachers: The Poster Contest, and Veteran NHDC Teachers: In It to Win It! Kayla Gabehart, graduate administrative assistant, mentions “The poster contest, a scaled down version of the middle and high school exhibit category, is designed to introduce younger students to thesis writing, research, and analysis, as well as to prepare them for success in middle school, high school, and beyond.” Get your students signed up now!

There were sixteen total breakout sessions on the second day, consisting of seven TPS workshops, including two TPS Strategies: Beginner, two TPS Strategies: Advanced, The World Digital Library: A Global Perspective on NHD, Black and White and Read All Over: Chronicling America and Historic Newspapers,and Library of Congress Goes Mobile. Each of these were taught by the TPS at MSU Denver team and had a great turnout and positive feedback overall.

TPS Strategies: Beginner - Taylor Kendal
TPS Strategies: Beginner – Taylor Kendal

Taylor Kendal, TPS MSU Denver Program Coordinator, taught four sessions, including two TPS Beginner Strategies sessions, The World Digital Library: A Global Perspective on NHD, as well as The LOC Goes Mobile. During each session the members were extremely receptive and almost all participants in the World Digital Library breakout session weren’t aware that it existed but were anxious to use it in their classroom. “Teachers found the site simple and engaging, and after an hour of demonstration and discussion, a few teachers were already well on their way to developing an exciting activity which incorporated a variety of primary sources they discovered while browsing the vast collection of prized global resources.”

About the Library of Congress Goes Mobile, Kendal says, “Thanks to a generous donation from NHDC Board Member Kristen Martin, all participants were able to explore the new Library of Congress Student Discovery Sets on brand new iPads. Although some teachers voiced existing concerns about technology adoption at their school, they still saw great potential with these simple interactive resources. Teachers were also some of the first to see an exciting new iBook developed by TPS Western Region grantee, Peter Pappas. This resource, along with further discussion, can be accessed from Peter’s Blog.” Also check out the TPS write-up about the Student as Historian workshop.

TPS Strategies: Advanced
TPS Strategies: Advanced

Dr. Peggy O’Neill-Jones, Director of TPS at MSU Denver, led three sessions. The TPS Strategies: Advanced sessions focused on the power of the Professional Drag and Drop Development (PD3) Model as well as primary source analysis and synthesis between small groups. “The PD3 model is an integral part for encouraging the broader and deeper understanding of historical and geographical artifacts. By combining historical thinking with geographical thinking and other disciplinary thinking, students gain the skills to connect the learning to a larger world context, which is essential for 21st century learners. PD3 connects multidimensional teaching strategies together as scaffolds to help students develop deeper understanding of complex issues.”

The Black and White and Read All Over breakout session introduced educators to Chronicling America and how these historic newspapers could be used in their classrooms. “The Library of Congress offers a large collection of historic newspapers that are great for educators when teaching the subjectivity of historic accounts as well as helping students formulate their own opinions and create a deeper sense of meaning from text,” says Dr. O’Neill-Jones.

Civil War Primary Sources from the Library of Congress
Civil War Primary Sources from the Library of Congress

The other nine sessions were taught by History Colorado (Online Exhibits and Digital Badges, and Just Add Water), NHDC (Interview Cafe), Ed Crowther (It’s Not Just One More Thing), Bonnie Guggenheim (History Day Timeline), Center of the American West (Colorado’s Exploration, Encounters, and Exchange), Casey Clay (NHD Outside of the Typical Classroom Setting), Barb Allen (NHD as an Interdisciplinary Tool), and Tim Hoogland (Not Just for the Gifted).

Ed Crowther, Professor of History and Chair of the History Department at Adams State College, points out the collaborative nature of NHD, “Two things stood out. The teachers had great ideas and offered positive and substantial support for one another. History Day does wondrous things to transform the lives of participants and it can also be a great way for teachers to demonstrate their own expertise and to cooperate effectively with one another to support this transformative process.”

Sarah Gilmor, reference librarian with History Colorado, taught the Just Add Water: Primary Sources at History Colorado’s Stephen H. Hart Library & Research Center. About her breakout session she says, “participants took a hands-on look at archival resources from our collection. I usually explore the particular items we looked at with students, and NHD provided a great opportunity for me to introduce these items to teachers and get their insight about how they could be used in the classroom, in NHD projects, and for other curriculum objectives. We always love to see NHD students visiting our library to work on their projects, and the NHD session provides such a valuable opportunity to get together with like-minded educators from around the state and trade ideas, ask questions, and get inspiration.”

Tim "Mr. History" Hoogland
Tim “Mr. History” Hoogland

Tim “Mr. History” Hoogland, from Minnesota History Day, summed up the two-day event by noting the power of NHD for students who get involved for long-term success. During his presentation he showed a few of the NHD projects that are submitted by students across the nation and what it takes to become a finalist. Teachers and students get excited about the opportunity to participate in NHD because of the variety and challenge for creating a unique project to display their knowledge and research.

The entire set of breakout sessions as well as each of the presenters and their resources can be accessed at the Workshop Wiki.