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National History Day in Colorado

The “What” and “Why” of History Day

​What Is History Day?

History Day is a social studies and literacy program for students in the 6th-12th grades. Students can choose regional, state, national, or international topics that fit around a broad annual theme. They conduct primary and secondary source research and apply their findings, individually or as a group (2-5 students), to one of five creative formats including papers, websites, exhibits, documentaries, and performances. Students can then choose to participate in the competition phase of the program; regional, state, and national.

Why Teach History Day?

The History Day curriculum format is a powerful tool for teachers in any classroom or extracurricular setting. History Day works for teachers in the following ways:

History Day can fit into any classroom setting:

  • Beyond the text book: Provides teachers will an innovative teaching tool.
  • Great for differentiated instruction. Whether gifted, mainstream or special needs, all students can learn by creating a History Day project.
  • Allows for individuality and creativity in topic selection and project format, while adhering to the teacher's requirements.
  • Flexible for teachers
    • Adapt to their own schedule/calendar. It can be taught during an entire school year, during a semester or month, or as an extracurricular. Click here for suggest timelines for your classroom
    • No cost to teachers.
    • NHDC provides training & support to teachers. Click here for more information
    • Cross curricular (social studies, literacy, arts) and can be adapted to any curriculum/course: civics, geography, science, language arts, US History, European History, History of the West, etc.
  • The program meets Colorado standards in social studies and literacy.

Benefits to Students:

  • Students take ownership of their work, are empowered to make choices, and experience increased self-esteem.
  • Bolsters student academic performance in research techniques, writing skills, historical knowledge, creativity, literacy, communication, college readiness, and civic awareness.
  • Every student is transformed into a researcher and competent writer by:
    • Conducting primary source research.
    • Creating a thesis statement.
    • Proving their thesis.
  • Students gain presentation and time management skills.
  • Students understand the importance of historical perspective.
  • Students utilize local museums, libraries, archives and historical sites.
  • Exposes students to new and exciting educational environments by holding workshops and contests on college campuses and historical societies.

A national study found that History Day students:

  • Show improved academic performance across all subjects.
  • Outperform their peers on state standardized tests.
  • Are better writers who write with a purpose and real voice, and marshal solid evidence to support their point of view.
  • Learn 21st century college and career-ready skills: collaboration, ability to talk to experts, time management and perseverance.
  • Are critical thinkers who can digest, analyze and synthesize information
  • The study also showed that History Day has a positive impact among students whose interest in academic subjects may wane in high school.