Local history fairs are beneficial to teachers, students, parents, and communities.
They promote excellence in education and allow students to assimilate skills that will be applicable for a successful educational career. Several suggestions for the WHYS and HOWS of holding a local history fair are listed below.
Why schools should hold a local history fair:
1. Promote local, regional, and state history to your community. A local history fair is an excellent way to educate your community of the history that abounds throughout the state of Illinois. Make an effort to have some projects address and document local or regional history. Community pride can be developed especially when local and regional history is emphasized. This is also a great way of showing the community that your school's history department is actively involved in the recording and preservation of local, regional, and state history.
2. Give all participating students recognition for their work. History fair projects represent a great deal of work for the students involved. A local history fair gives teachers the opportunity to give recognition to all students, including those students who are not selected to advance to regional competition. The history department should hold an awards day for all students where reinforcement of a job well done and recognition is bestowed. Celebrating the learning experience will deepen the student appreciation of their research and overall educational experience. Recognition by teachers, parents, peers, and the community will develop pride and confidence in participating students
3. Show students in the lower grades what to expect. Students in the lower grades who are not yet involved in history fair will become excited about history if allowed to view local history fair projects. Young students will also know what a quality project looks like and thus will be able to plan ahead. The local history fair as part of the curriculum will become stronger each year if students in the lower grades are allowed to get involved. Set up a schedule so that all lower classes will be able to view the local history fair without being too crowded or rushed for time. Conclude by giving the students time to ask questions after viewing the projects.
4. Challenge students to qualify their projects for regional competition. By taking only the top projects to regional competition, all students will be challenged to do their best work in order to receive the reward of going to a regional fair. Project creativity is an element that will noticeably develop as students try to make their projects unique. Here is the opportunity for students to express their knowledge in a variety of new and exciting formats. Weak projects should not enter regional competition. The quality of each project needs to be the main focus when selecting projects for regional competition.
5. Teach students to research topics, locate primary sources, and develop writing skills. Hosting an in-school history fair is an excellent idea for involving your students in learning
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