National History Day: A Superb gateway to Guided Inquiry

Hello everyone. As I write this, I am preparing for a much-anticipated first trip to National History Day at the University of Maryland College Park. I live in Dallas, TX, where I work as a librarian at Highland Park High School and will be writing about my experience utilizing GID in the process of preparing students for History Day competition. It has been a great journey.

I have been a library media specialist since 2001. While in graduate training at the University of Texas I was heavily influenced by Carol Kuhlthau who wrote the seminal work on the information search process (ISP) and who is Leslie Maniotes’ co-author on the Guided Inquiry Design book that incorporates ISP. Therefore, it is a great honor be writing on this blog.

My favorite aspect of my job has always been guiding students in deep, highly individualized research projects. In the early years of my career I found this outlet via the Distinguished Achievement Program in Hays Consolidated Independent School District. Our program required students seeking a Distinguished Achievement designation to write and present an original research paper before a group of qualified and independent judges. Since moving on from Hays in 2009, I have worked at a International Baccalaureate campus as well as with a New Tech High School in Dallas, where Project Based Learning is the instructional model.

In these jobs, I had numerous opportunities to work with students on research, but nothing in all my years as a teacher-librarian was as rewarding as working with an 11th grade history teacher and her students at A Maceo Smith New Tech High school on their History Day projects during the 2012-13 school year. Through my support work with History Day, I saw students display genuine passion for historical research and take ownership of their learning. I knew there was something in the secret sauce of the History Day program that made this happen and I wanted to be more involved.

However, the following year I took a new position at Highland Park High School, one of the most academically competitive and highest achieving schools in the USA.  There was no History Day program at Highland Park, and I soon realize that this was a big void in my life, but also, I believed in the lives of HPHS students, who study harder than any I have encountered, but who don’t often have opportunities or any time to pursue pleasurable and deeper learning experiences based on their own interests. I became determined to bring History Day to Highland Park and I would succeed this year, my third at the school.

My posts this week will tell the story of planning and coordinating a History Day for my school. I will focus mostly on the Instructional strategies I selected in guiding the Freshman students towards completing their 1st History Day project. The Guided Inquiry Design Framework was highly influential in my lesson plans, but ultimately I needed to abbreviate the process because of time constraints, and perhaps because of my own inexperience with the model. In any case, I encourage GID blog readers to learn more about National History Day at I feel there is no better gateway to inquiry than History Day. Perhaps you have been involved in History Day and have used GID in your instruction. If you have, please do get in touch and comment. I think it would be great to build a GID-History Day community.

Neil Krasnoff

Librarian at Highland Park High School

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