This is the only unit I have taught all five years in the Bronx, and it is continually the one that produces the best student work. After stagnating a bit with the unit in the third and fourth years I taught it, I think our team made some good improvements to the scaffolds we used in the Research Packet, which better emphasized higher level thinking. Bronx Lab History Day was a success for the fifth straight year, and I think we have a few projects that will be competitive at the city contest, which we haven’t had in a couple of years.
Things We Got Right
- For the fifth year in a row, my students were motivated to do the best work they’ve done. For some lower preforming students, this was the first project they successfully completed. For many of my top students, this was the best work I got from them. I was very satisfied with the end products.
- By redoing the Research Packet to focus the scaffolding worksheets on analysis and synthesis, the level of thought in students’ writing was much improved from previous years.
Things We Got Wrong That Are Easy to Fix
- For a slew of reasons, we did not do much work with primary documents in the first half of the course, as I had in US History in earlier years. I think this hurt the quality of the primary document research in this unit. The previous units need some inquiry-based primary document lessons to help scaffold the reading and thinking skills necessary for History Day research.
- This year, we moved the bibliography to later in the process. I would move it back to the midpoint as it was in years past. Students were too focused on the end goal to put effort into their bibliographies, and a lot were not completed.
- We need a global history library. Having only textbooks and the internet in class limited the quality of the research.
Things We Got Wrong That Need to Be Redone
- I’m still not sure how to make students take deadlines seriously before the final presentation. If everyone could be done even one day earlier to have some time for peer edits and revisions, the projects would be tremendously improved.
- Likewise, I’m still not sure how to make time for teaching students how to do layout well and neatly. This requires having the materials and writing done earlier, just like the previous issue.
Previous Unit Reflections