A New Take on Teaching History
By: Dillon McCormick
Ann Claunch was a middle school educator teaching the American Revolution when she came to a realization. "I was teaching about Paul Revere's ride, when I asked my students to give me a visual representation." An image of a sloppily drawn man in a car was projected onto the screen. There was an arrow pointing to the man, "paul revere" scrawled at the top. "That was when I realized the disconnect between my teaching and my students' learning."
Then she discovered a program titled National History Day. NHD is a history version of a science fair where students can submit projects in multiple categories to be judged on multiple levels. The resources, however, can be used in the classroom to engage previously disconnected students.
The NHD idea is to create student-based learning in the classroom. Instead of being completely language based, NHD encourages individual research and gives the student control of his learning. NHD also supports teachers by providing instructional materials and workshops. After students complete their research, they can demonstrate their knowledge in several different forms: an exhibit, a documentary, a paper, a performance, or a website. This is a drastic break from the traditional history class and opens up opportunities for students to see different perspectives on events in the past.
NHD helps students immerse themselves in history and creates a new way to learn from the past. Any teacher frustrated with the disconnect between teaching and learning should check out NHD's website (www.nhd.org) to find out more.