That History Day Guy

March 6, 2008

Been a long time..

Filed under: Uncategorized — historydayguy @ 8:32 pm

OK, so it has been a long time since I have done a post. It seems that my duties as Associate Director of Ed. at The New York State Historical Association have been keeping me enormously busy. Plus with That History Day Gal writing I hardly have to.  But I am going to get back on the horse and commit to writing at least once  a month

Tomorrow I leave for Fredonia University, and competition in The Westen Southern Tier’s regional contest. Despite the long lonely drive down route 90 I will be going to an exciting contest. There are 15 entries. So this is small but this is the first time for this region. And due to the small number of entries, some may be able to go to state’s basically as default.

So this is a weird situation you might think. Kids come out on a Saturday morning, are grilled by judges and then win no matter what as long as they are not tossed on rule infractions?

Well yes, this may theoretically happen, but it is no cake walk. It means they don’t experience as much competition, and they don’t get to see how others have approached the contest and produced exhibits.

All this brings me to judging. For students who are almost guaranteed a spot, judging becomes even more important than perhaps those who have others to compete with. You see the judges will act as their only feedback. It will be the comments on their evaluation sheets they will need to use when preparing for the next level of competition.

Remember, after the contest, you can take your projects, read the evaluations, and then be sure to make the recommended changes. This is what makes NHD so awesome. You don’t have to live with an as is. Learning and its products is a process, and so is History Day.

So. History Day Judges! Listen UP! Far  too often we see no comments, comments like “Good Try!” or “Good Job” or worst of all nothing at all. You are there to evaluate. You need to be sure to leave specific suggestions which allow students an opportunity to improve.

Here are Examples of The Good, The Bad and The Ugly….


You present some good analysis but you should develop a formal Thesis!

Your bibliography seems to be missing references to  important sources on your board

Find a title that does more than simply list your topic.example Pearl Harbor!

Consult a university or college library for more varied sources. Entries only from the inernet do not display wide reserach.

Find images which are not so common.

Some of your placements of text are hard to read but have good information. Move them to eye level.

Re tape portions of your audio that are much louder then others. It is distracting.

Focus more on BLANK in your research to support your ideas of  BLANK in your thesis.

The Bad

Good Attempt!

Nice Try?


More analysis….

Improve the look.

Not enough information.

The Ugly

Did your Mom do this.

Not acceptable work.

or writing nothing or next to nothing….

Judges have important jobs. We are there to assess, offer feedback, support student effort even when it does not meet all of our expectations.  Perhaps there is much more important learning that takes place after students do their research and are brave enough to synthesise it into projects and put it out there on display. It is in receiving feedback, and being placed in those zones of proximal development where are students minds actually grow and increase their ability to understand and interpret as they are advised in the ways that truly convey a message on a historic topic.

So judges. Drink your coffee, eat the free doughnuts and sharpen your pencils. Take time to record your ideas, on the front, on the sides, and even grab a second sheet if needed. These kids need you. Good Judging!


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