valuable research, writing, and other skills. Your students will incorporate the understanding of history with methods of language arts, electronic media, music, etc., to tell a story about the past. Finding primary sources to bring history alive is another skill that students will find necessary to acquire. In addition, students will also develop critical thinking and problem solving skills. Involvement in Illinois history fair projects is an exciting and innovative teaching tool that will get your students out of the classroom and into the community to investigate their past.
6. The local history fair will become a part of the curriculum. Establishing a local history fair and using it as a part of the grading system will allow the fair to become a part of the curriculum.
7. Get the community involved. Invite the community to the local history fair and place interesting projects in public locations to create interest. Involving the community often taps primary sources that may have been previously unknown and can be used for future projects.
8. Parents become involved. Hosting a local history fair can involve parents in the student's education. Teacher/student contracts and teacher/parent contracts can actively involve parents to insure that projects develop on a timely manner. It is also an excellent way to make positive parent/teacher rapports.
9. Weaker projects will improve the following year. Comments from teachers who are experienced in running a local history fair have stated that the quality of projects increase from year to year. This is no doubt credited to the increased skills of the teachers involved as they cultivate experience, but also to the competitive nature and pride of the students involved. Using cooperative learning methods also helps students learn from each other and improves the quality of projects.
10. Great amount of control by the teacher to structure the fair. The local history fair allows teachers to recognize the students who excel at this initial level. The subjectivity of the hundreds of individuals involved in the evaluation process at the regional and statewide exposition will always be present. School history fairs can be more objective with the local teacher in control of judges and making final decisions on who advances to the regional fair. As the classroom teacher is aware of the amount of work each student invests, he/she can serve as a more informed arbiter.
How to hold a local history fair
1. Volunteer versus mandatory. Which students should get involved? Many teachers require all students to participate in the local history fair while others operate on a voluntary basis only. Often much depends upon whether or not the students are required to participate in the school's science fair. This is an issue that can be resolve through interdepartmental cooperation.
2. Set a date for the local history fair early. Once you have decided to hold a local history fair, the teacher responsible should decide on a date with the school superintendent or principal. This will help avoid conflicts with other school activities that have been scheduled by the science, music, or art departments.
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