Monday, June 10, 2013

ABC-CLIO Solutions Helps Nevada Student with National History Day Contest

Each year more than half a million children across the country participate in the National History Day Contest. Students are challenged to choose a historical topic related to the annual theme, and then conduct primary and secondary research. They are then asked to present this research in a creative way via performance, exhibit, documentary or website.

This year student Bennett Wallace's creative website on Valley Forge has been selected from his state to compete at the national level. Bennett used ABC-CLIO Solutions as his primary source of information in creating his website. We took a moment to ask Bennett about this project and how ABC-CLIO Solutions helped him create his winning website.

Screen shot of Bennett's webpage. Visit it here:

ABC-CLIO (AC): Why did you choose this topic?

Bennett Wallace (BW): I chose Valley Forge as a topic because I had visited the Valley Forge National Park when I was 11 and learned so many interesting things there about how Valley Forge was a turning point in the war. I felt like it would fit the topic perfectly. 

AC: How did ABC-CLIO resources help your research for this project? 

BW: ABC-CLIO resources helped me so much on this project because it was quick and easy to find reliable sources from their database and they even have the MLA citation at the bottom of each source. ABC-CLIO made it easy to cite sources for my annotated bibliography. 

AC:What challenges did you face during the course of this project? How did you overcome these challenges?

BW: The challenges I had during this project were trying to keep under the word limit. There is quite a lot of information on Valley Forge and I wish I could have added more.  Another problem I faced was making the annotated bibliography. I used so many sources that it was hard to cite them all. I overcame these problems by getting rid of some pages on my website and also by using sites like EasyBib and ABC-CLIO that made making my bibliography easier. 

AC: What surprised you the most about your subject during the course of your research?

BW: The thing that surprised me most about my subject is that Valley Forge was a turning point not only in the Revolutionary War but also in George Washington's life and really our country's history.  Also, what surprised me were the conditions at Valley Forge and how harsh the winter was.  


We also asked Bennet's teacher, Lindsey Clewell, for her perspective on the ABC-CLIO and the project:

AC: What made you decide to have your students participate in the contest? 

Lindsey Clewell (LC): I heard about National History Day from the coordinator of Social Studies for Washoe County, Sue Davis.  I thought that this sounded like an amazing opportunity for students to learn lifelong skills while researching something they are interested in.

AC: What did you find most useful about ABC-CLIO Solutions for your students while working on this project? 

LC: ABC-CLIO offers students reliable information.  In today’s world students have the tedious task of sorting through information to find out what is correct and reliable. ABC-CLIO offers a resource that students can go to and know that the information they are reading about is accurate. 

AC: What challenges did you face during the course of this project? How did you overcome these challenges? 

LC: I feel the biggest challenge of this project was teaching the students what is a reliable resource and what is not. They are used to going to Google and typing in a search term and believing everything they read is reliable. To get them digging a bit deeper into the resource and asking the questions, “Where did this source come from?” and “How do I know if this is reliable?”, was a task that is important and something that we spend a lot of time on. I also made sure to give my students websites that are reliable and offer many primary and secondary resources. This is a skill that my students will need to know throughout their lives and is one that is worth spending extra time to teach. 

AC: How does ABC-CLIO Solutions compare to other research tools you've used in the classroom?  

LC: ABC-CLIO is easy to navigate for students and this is why my students tended to gravitate to the source.  Their generation is used to getting answers fast and ABC-CLIO offered great answers in a timely manner.  My students found multiple resources relating to their topic in one place and they really enjoyed this online resource as a primary source that they used. 


We asked Christine Hull, Director of Social Studies and Content Literacy Programs at the Nevada Department of Education, to give her feedback on how ABC-CLIO Solutions plays a role at the state level:

AC: What made you decide to have NV schools participate in the contest?

Christine Hull (CH): When I took the position I am in currently I inherited the role of History Day Coordinator for the State of Nevada. I encourage schools to participate in this contest because the process to prepare their projects aligns with Common Core as well as gives the teachers an authentic learning and assessment opportunity in their classrooms. I really believe the process is the most important part of the entire contest. The Director of National History Day, Cathy Gorn always says, History Day is every day! I truly believe that and the skills that students learn through this process truly are preparing them for their next step in education.

AC: What challenges did you face during the course of this project? How did you overcome these challenges?

CH: Our state is so diverse in geography and population. We are unable to have one state contest like every other state so the first time our entire delegation meets is in Maryland. We also run into problems reaching our districts in the eastern part of the state and something that I would really like to focus on in the future.

AC: How has ABC-CLIO Solutions helped you accomplish your overall goals for the social studies programs in NV schools?

CH: Having the ABC-CLIO Solutions available to every K-12 student in the entire state makes it so great for me to encourage teachers to use this as their starting point for research. Knowing that they can all access the same articles and resources I know that if I show an example during a webinar or face to face training that everyone has access to a trusted source of information.

AC: How has ABC-CLIO Solutions helped NV teachers to implement the Common Core State Standards?

CH: Our teachers are loving the ability to search by not only content standards but also by CCSS. Using the primary sources and articles available in ABC-CLIO Solutions gives our teachers the ability to have an updated textbook of sorts that is aligned to the types of literacy activities they are implementing in their classrooms. 

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ABC-CLIO's American History online solution

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