As mentioned in the previous workshop, it is recommended by National History Day in Colorado that every student complete a writing element before creating their NHD projects. This essay is not all-encompassing; students will continue to research and learn about their topic even after this short essay is written. Rather, it is an opportunity for you as the teacher to gauge the progress each student is making. It will also allow students to see if there are gaps in their research. Students who are interested in doing a group project should each write their own essay. They will be able to begin working in groups after the essay assignment is completed.
This essay presents a fabulous opportunity for cross-curricular teaching, especially at the middle school level. Invite your Language Arts teacher to work cooperatively on this assignment.
Explain to your students that they will be writing a short essay about what they have learned so far. After the moans and groans have died down, explain to them that writing will make their project better. It will help them organize the materials they have so far, gather their thoughts, and discover what information they still need to look for in their research. It will also make it easier to decide what type of project they would like to do. And, because every type of project requires some form of writing (documentaries and performances require a script, websites and exhibits have text, papers obviously require writing) writing now will give them a head start on that part of the project.
Once the hard sell is over, help them to organize their ideas. Your school probably has a writing formula that is taught to your students. If you are unsure, check with a language arts teacher at your school. If your school does utilize a formula to teach students to write, use that method here. If not, help your students organize a simple 5 paragraph essay. This graphic organizer can be used to develop the essay.
Once students have organized the material they have already found researching, they should write a 1-2 page essay about their topic. They should incorporate the thesis statement they wrote last week in the introduction paragraph. They also should be sure to relate the topic to the them of "Leadership and Legacy in History”.
Students should complete their 1-2 page essays for the next workshop.