Wednesday, March 25, 2009

New Jersey History Day

forsythia, just starting to bloom

And now for something completely different...

This past weekend I had the opportunity to be a judge for New Jersey History Day, at a regional competition leading up to National History Day. Information about the competition and events is on the websites, but I wanted to mention what an amazing opportunity this is for educators and students to not only become interested and involved in studying history, but to be able to express and share this interest. In addition, it's a great information literacy lesson.

The participants are in middle school or high school, and as a librarian I am impressed by and excited about the standards of information literacy they are held to. One of the requirements for the competition is to create an annotated bibliography with primary and secondary sources identified. Thorough comprehension of historical material is just the basis for a project -- students must understand historical context, relevance, abstract themes, and then be able to synthesize all of this into a product that displays their understanding.

A particularly gratifying aspect of the competition was that students seemed genuinely excited about their topics. (The 2008-2009 theme is "The Individual in History: Actions and Legacies.") Choosing a topic that interested them, studying it, becoming experts, and adhering to standards to communicate ideas to a large audience, led them to play out the steps in performing scholarly history research. I only wish more students went through this experience before coming to college.

No comments:

Post a Comment