3. Contact the state or local history fair director. In order to coordinate the local history fair with the regional and state fairs, the local history fair sponsor should contact the regional history fair director or state directors. Let them know you want to start a local fair. At the state level, Keith Sculle (217)785-6916 or Pete Harbison (217)782-2981 should be contacted as soon as possible. They will provide all necessary information for the local sponsor to contact the regional director and to coordinate the two fairs.
4. Get the media involved. The local sponsor should contact the assignment editors from the local newspaper, television and radio stations. Let them know that you are holding a local history fair. Invite them to attend and to film or interview students and staff. Educate them as to what a history fair is. Surprisingly, the media is usually uninformed and are more than happy to cover such a unique event. This recognition by the media is simply an irreplaceable source of motivation.
5. Advertise. Use school resources to advertise. Create a local history fair web page for your school. Advertise on hallway bulletin boards, the school paper, lunch menus, posters, flyers, and place history fair pictures from local, regional, and state fairs in the school yearbook. Also, history teachers should decorate their rooms with pictures from previous fairs. Motivation radiates from these pictures when students see their peers involved in a history fair and the surrounding events.
6. When to start—a potential time line. Teachers should give their students as much time as possible to work on their history fair projects. An introduction to the history fair should begin the first month of school and should continue throughout the year with the teacher having project checks every few weeks or as needed. A potential time line follows. August/September Send informational letter to parents/guardians about the local history fair and time line necessary for the completion of student projects. Students should select topics of interest, and begin collecting bibliography sources. October/ November Select at least five primary sources, collect pictures, gather materials for projects, design a layout for backboards, write scripts, design model and media layouts. December/January: Begin to put final project together, write annotated bibliographies. February/March Complete summary sheets, check for details, creativity, neatness, and presentation of design. The local history fair should be approximately two weeks before the regional history fair in order to forward advancing student names with project information to the regional director.
7. How do you get started? Guidelines will be mailed to you once you have contacted the regional or state directors. When this information is received, share it with your students immediately. Guidelines are provided for each of the categories that the students may enter.
8. Contact your local library. Please do not overload your local librarian! Let them know that your students will be involved in researching local, regional, and Illinois history. Provide a list of possible research topics. Libraries may be able to stock possible research topics if they are given enough advanced notice.
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