UAH History Department hosts teacher-training workshop for National History Day


Local teachers gathered on the UAH campus in late August for a training workshop on National History Day hosted by the History Department.

Michael Mercier | UAH

The History Department at The University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAH) recently hosted a free, one-day training workshop to help local teachers prepare for National History Day, a nationwide academic competition that challenges students in grades 6-12 to develop research and critical thinking skills through the study of history. The event was facilitated by Joel Walker, an education specialist for the National Archives at Atlanta, and Deborah Hester, a sixth-grade teacher at Hampton Cove Middle School and a Behring Ambassador for National History Day.

Rather than presenting history as dry facts to be memorized, it instead immerses students in the excitement of ‘doing’ history as an active and creative process.

Dr. Molly Johnson
Associate professor of history

"When Debbie approached me to see if the History Department would host a National History Day training workshop for teachers, I was immediately enthusiastic," says Dr. Molly Johnson, associate professor of history. "Not only would it allow us to support and strengthen our connections with local social studies teachers, but as a historian, I just love what the National History Program does for middle and high school students. Rather than presenting history as dry facts to be memorized, it instead immerses students in the excitement of 'doing' history as an active and creative process."

Participants in the workshop gathered in Roberts Hall's collaborative learning classroom for a series of presentations to assist them in preparing their students for Alabama's state-level National History Day contest. Students taking part in the event, which will be held at Auburn University on May 5, 2017, are required to present their final project in one of five ways: paper, exhibit, performance, documentary, or website.

The presentations included:

  • History Day in a Nutshell: An overview with emphasis on interpreting this year's theme of "Taking a Stand in History," creating a thesis statement, and understanding the difference and importance of both primary and secondary sources
  • "Taking a Stand in History": A discussion of suggested topics and topic ideas, and their relationship to grade-level standards
  • Impressing the Judges: A guide to researching and creating a knockout bibliography
  • One Size Does Not Fit All: Customizing the National History Day curriculum to fit your classroom

The teachers also received the National History Day rulebook, the 2017 theme book, and a binder of materials to help them better incorporate project-based learning into their curriculum.

"It was wonderful to partner with UAH for this workshop," says Hester, who has led students to state-level National History Day contests for the last five years and advanced to the national contest the last three years. "The Department's faculty members were welcoming and really went over and above to make our time meaningful. I have even scheduled a follow-up fieldtrip to the library for my advanced students, and they are so excited to be coming to campus!"



Dr. Molly W. Johnson

Ms. Deborah Hester


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