Greater Denver Metro NHD



The best method of introducing students to National History Day in Colorado is to simply show them projects. The most accessible way to do this in the classroom is to begin by watching a winning documentary. There are many online at As you choose which documentary you wish to share, keep in mind that showing something that won at nationals might overwhelm your class before they even begin. Consider looking for something that will not make your students feel like this is beyond their abilities. If time permits, you may even wish to show your students two films of varying quality and have them compare and contrast the two. You will find documentary samples like this at the National History Day in Colorado website at


Before showing the documentary, give the students a copy of the documentary evaluation sheet or the NHD judging sheet, both found on the flash drive. While the NHD judging sheet is the exact form the judges use for competitions, it contains vocabulary beginning NHD students might not understand. The documentary evaluation sheet is set up in the same format as the judging sheet, but it is directed toward this introduction lesson. You will need to evaluate which is appropriate for your class.


Ask students to evaluate the documentary.

·        What was the main point (thesis) of the documentary?

·        What points supported the thesis?

·        What was done well?

·        What could have been improved?

·        Were you left with questions?

·        Do you think the “producer” gave a balanced account?

Discuss the student’s evaluation of the documentary. Ask such questions as

·        Did you find the information presented to be interesting?

·        Did you learn something you didn’t know before?

·        How do you think the “producer” came up with the idea for this film?

·        Where do you think they found the information that was included?

Work time:

As individuals or in groups of 2-3, send students on a web quest. They must find the following:

·        Answer the question: What is National History Day?

·        One National History Day paper to read

o   Record the name of the paper, identify the thesis and 2 main points

·        One NHD website to examine

o   Record the URL, identify the thesis and note 2 things learned

·        One NHD performance to watch

o   Record the title, identify the thesis and record 2 things learned

·        3 NHD exhibits to look at

o   Record the titles and thesis, and note where they found the pictures

·        Answer the question: What is the NHD theme for this year?

You might suggest they look at,, or to help them locate samples and answer the questions.


Alternate work assignment:

If you would like to assess your students ability prior to beginning the project, the NHDC office has created two pre-assessment tools for you to use.

       Middle School pre-assessment

       High School pre-assessment


Bring the students back together for a short discussion of what they found. If they did not complete their web quest, or if you have issues with YouTube being blocked out at your school, then students should complete the web quest as homework for the following week.

Requirements for next workshop:

·        Complete web quest


·        Have a 1” 3-ring binder to house your NHD materials. If you wish to have students work digitally, they should have a folder set up for easy access on their computer desktop, or in Google Drive or a similar program. Only use this option if your students have access to this file every day, and if you plan to provide hand-outs and homework assignments digitally.


Other Documents:

Documentary evaluation form

NHD Documentary judging form 


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