The History Day Teacher Framework was developed by staff at the Minnesota Historical Society in collaboration with teachers in the Minneapolis Public School District, the St. Paul Public School District, the Robbinsdale School District, and DeLaSalle High School.
The lessons provided are intended for teachers to guide students through the different steps of creating a History Day project. Teachers must remember that the steps may be similar in each classroom setting, but the time it takes to complete a step, or the time you can devote in class depends on your classroom and teaching style. This framework is intended to be adaptable to your needs.
UPDATED: September 2023
- View the complete 2024 Teacher Framework (Google Doc)
- Read background about the program, models of participation, and frequently asked questions (PDF)
If you have any questions regarding the framework, or materials in it, please contact Sammi Jo Papas.
“Introducing History Day” and the “Theme” are intended to provide background information for student as they make decisions for their project. The first lesson previews the whole process of History Day while inviting students to start thinking about their own project. The theme discussion in the Socratic Seminar method will get them thinking about the theme words and theme connections in the project.
Handouts & Worksheets: Introduction to History Day theme
- Handout: National Theme Sheet (PDF)
- Handout: Minnesota Theme Sheet (PDF)
- Worksheet: Annual Theme Guided Questions (PDF)
Choosing a topic
The next section, “Choosing a Topic,” emphasizes in three lessons the fact that students will be working with this topic over a long period of time. One of the strengths of the History Day program is getting students to move from simply reporting the facts to explaining the significance of a specific event in the overall ebb and flow of history. Making an argument as to the importance of a topic in history is crucial. The three lessons involved encourage students pick one detail out of a larger picture by looking at eras and timelines. Then they hone in on what they enjoy about a particular era or event, and then develop research questions to guide the research and the first steps of their project.
- Choosing a Topic – Narrowing Topics and Developing Theme Connections (PDF)
- Choosing a Topic – Research Questions and Contract (PDF)
Handouts & Worksheets: Choosing a Topic Using Historical Eras
Handouts & Worksheets: Narrowing Topics
Handouts & Worksheets: Guiding Questions/Contract
- Worksheet: History Day Self-Reflection (PDF)
- Worksheet: History Day Crew Contract (PDF)
- Handout: Who do I work with – if anyone? (PDF)
Research about the chosen topic is the foundation of the History Day project. Students should understand that they will be investigating a topic over a period of time in order to complete a quality, thorough, unbiased investigation of the topic. Students will be asked to gather, analyze, and present the relevant information of their topic. The lessons provided are intended to build understanding of the research process and how to effectively use research. The process is clearly outlined to emphasize identification of bias and using appropriate resources.
- Research – Note-Taking (PDF)
- Research – Verification and Integrity (PDF)
- Research – Library Visits (PDF)
- Research – Types of Libraries (PDF)
- Research – Primary Sources (PDF)
Handouts & Worksheets: Note-Taking
Handouts & Worksheets: Library Resources
Handouts & Worksheets: Verification of Information and Integrity of Research
Handouts & Worksheets: Primary Sources and Documents
- Handout: Primary and Secondary Sources (PDF)
- Worksheet: Analyzing Primary Documents (PDF)
- Handout: Online Resources for National History Day Research (PDF)
After students begin to understand the basic narrative of their topic, they will begin to develop their argument, or thesis statement, which describes the significance of their topic in history. In this step, students will also look at historical context, understanding how their topic is connected to larger issues in history.
Handouts & Worksheets: Historical Context
- Handout: Exhibit Layout (PDF)
- Worksheet: Section Checklist – Background (PDF)
- Worksheet: Section Check List – Build-Up (PDF)
- Handout: Historical Context (PDF)
Handouts & Worksheets: Historical Significance
Handouts & Worksheets: Thesis Development
- Worksheet: Thesis Development (PDF) or Thesis from Student Research Guide (PDF)
- Handout: Comparing Thesis Statements (PDF)
When organizing the project, the writing process is structured to work through the different steps of the writing process. Starting with the development of the thesis, students will compile answers to the research questions they have been creating throughout the project. Then build the story using an outline and write the narrative. This makes the writing process in the following lesson less daunting. After they develop their final project, they are done!
- Project Organization – Narrative Organizer (PDF)
- Project Organization – Build It! (PDF)
- Project Organization – Process Paper and Annotated Bibliography (PDF)
Handouts & Worksheets: Narrative organizer
Handouts & Worksheets: Writing for Your Category
Handouts & Worksheets: Build It! Category Rules and Sample Projects
Specific project resources available on the Categories and Sample Projects page.
Handouts & Worksheets: Process Papers and Bibliography
- Handout: Process Paper and Annotated Bibliography (PDF)
- Sample: Process Paper (PDF)
- Handout: All About Annotations (PDF)
- Handout: Bibliographies Made Easy (PDF)
- Sample: Bibliography Citations in Turabian Format (PDF)
- Sample: Annotated Bibliography (PDF)
- Handout: Credits Required for Visual Sources in Websites and Exhibits (PDF)
In addition to lessons, these other tools that might be useful to help manage the History Day process in your classroom: