The Importance of National History Day

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The Importance of National History Day

2017-10-10 10:54


"The world henceforth will be run by synthesizers, people able to put together the right information at the right time, think critically about it, and make important choices wisely."

~ E.O. Wilson, American Biologist, Pulitzer Prize Winner and Professor Emeritus Harvard


More than half a million middle and high school students participate in National History Day annually. These students are supported by more than 30,000 teachers who challenge them to create the best projects possible.

National History Day (NHD) is a year-long educational 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 level. The winners move on to a state competition. Those winners move on to the annual national competition in the nation’s capital in June.

NHD makes such an impact that it benefits students and teachers who participate far beyond the competition. By participating in NHD students minds are transformed forever by what they learn:

  • Critical thinking and problem-solving skills
  • Research and reading skills
  • Oral and written communication and presentation skills
  • Self-esteem and confidence
  • A sense of responsibility for and involvement in the democratic process

NHD accomplishes this through history-based learning that is grounded in student choice, primary sources analysis, and civic literacy. NHD gives students the skills they need for college and beyond.

While NHD is all about students, it is also a unique event for the teachers. Because National History Day is a rigorous program, it requires more effort on the part of teachers and students. The overwhelming view of both teachers and students is that the extra effort is worthwhile.

Join us at HSP for our Kick-Off event on Monday, October 30th, 2017 from 4:30 pm to 7:30 pm to learn how NHD helps students develop research, literacy, presentation, and critical thinking skills. The workshop provides practical information on classroom implementation of NHD for teachers who have worked with the program before as well as those who would like to learn about it for the first time. Representatives from Philadelphia’s cultural institutions also will share their resources for student research.

This year Dr. Abby Reisman of Assistant Professor of Teacher Education in the Teaching, Learning, and Leadership Division at the University of Pennsylvania will deliver the keynote.  She will share her seminal work with “Reading Like a Historian,” the first extended history curriculum intervention in an urban high school system.


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