In some ways, National History Day (NHD) is rather “old school,” a science fair style research competition for history. I started requiring my students to participate in NHD because I saw the potential for deep research and thought, a good match with our department history “habits of mind” and a great opportunity for students to pick topics that they cared about.
I have some trouble thinking about the 1970s as far back in history, but the White House History twitter feed gave us this gem last week: Betty Ford's holiday card from 1975 included a pattern for a home made holiday orniment, the Clothespin Cardinal.
So, as a historian and a fan of making, I sewed one last week on our "rain day" (feel free to laugh, but we did have a lot of flooding, and some dangerous travel conditions, so call it an overabundance of caution).
Every teacher in every classroom contemplating a project plan faces the question of how much guidance, how many constraints, how much help to give students. I have been thinking about this problem in particular for history projects where the content is specific, for example the invention of the telegraph and its effects on American society. But I have also been thinking about it in terms of the larger movement, and the role of kits in teaching and learning.
Sometimes a technology skill building activity takes on a life of its own, and this time a simple inkscape tracing project turned into a collaboration with math and a spring board for several related activities.