Using National Endowment for the Humanities Resources for National History Day 2015


On September 29, I was excited to participate in one of the first National History Day webinars of the new school year: an example of NEH’s and EDSITEment’s partnership with National History Day.

Billed as “Teaching with NEH Resources,” we wanted to alert educators to the amazing range and quality of the free educational resources that NEH supports through its grant-making programs and also to introduce EDSITEment as the “one stop shop” for these resources—especially the new Ken Burns documentary series on the Roosevelts and Chronicling America, the NEH-funded digital database of historic American newspapers.

NHD Director of Programs Lynne O’Hara, an expert at using the webinar platform, was our producer and guide. I was joined by two classroom experts that I’ve worked with closely in the past: former NHD Ohio coordinator Mary Bezbatchenko and Greg Timmons, a veteran social studies teacher and educational writer and consultant for Ken Burns.

My part began by noting that NEH has had a close relationship to NHD since its inception over thirty years ago. Right now, NEH supports the first prize medals in each of the general categories; we also give special awards for the best use of Chronicling America in senior and junior level projects, so I was eager to show teachers how to use this database in their classroom.

Ken Burns’ series on Theodore, Franklin, and Eleanor Roosevelts, recently broadcast, also fits well with this year’s theme of leadership and legacy, so it seemed like serendipity to build our first webinar around that “intimate history” in tandem with the archival newspaper database.

The webinar, which is archived (see below), was designed to serve several purposes, all with the demands of teachers needing to meet Common Core and Social Studies standards. It offers useful techniques and strategies for getting students engaged in searching the Chronicling America database; it alerts teachers to the Ken Burns series and the many educational assets on the series website; and lastly, it illustrates some of the many related resources from EDSITEment that will help educators and their students go deeper into the subject of leadership and legacy for the Roosevelts and beyond.

Below is a breakdown of the webinar presentations and times. You can watch it on YouTube or SchoolTube and also review a deck of the PowerPoint slides of the presentations at the NHD website.

  • Introductions: Lynne O’Hara (to 1:40);
  • Chronicling America: Mary Bezbatchenko (1:40–16:27)

Mary showed a wide variety of strategies for using the Chronicling America database in the classroom, including differentiated instruction and scaffolding techniques;

  • The Roosevelts: Greg Timmons (17:07–26:30)

Greg walked teachers through the Ken Burns website, showing them the wealth of video clips, texts, and lesson plans which are there, or will be posted in the near future.

  • The Roosevelts and Beyond: Joe Phelan (27:00–end)

I discussed several pages from EDSITEment: our Common Core Closer Readings blog; our American Presidents page, and EDSITEment’s Chronicling America portal. For the “Beyond” section of my talk, I introduced our teacher audience to a page of search techniques for many of the suggested topics on this year’s theme. In fact, one could probably find an article on any of the suggested leaders in the NHD list. Even Hammurabi is covered. So let me end with a sampling of articles on the great king of Babylon.


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