Teacher Professional Development

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Get a jump on the 2020-2021 school year and contest season by attending one (or more) of four teacher professional development sessions offered by National History Day® during the National Contest. Bring your own laptop and leave each session with strategies and materials to put into your classroom in September! Certificates of professional development will be offered.

You can register for these programs when you register to attend the National Contest. The cost is $50 for Monday sessions, FREE for Tuesday sessions, $50 for BOTH Monday sessions and Tuesday's free sessions. Registration is required for all teacher workshops.


Monday, June 15, 2020
Tuesday, June 16, 2020
Monday, June 15, 2020

Testimony as an Act of Courage
9:00 - 11:30 a.m., Shoemaker 2102
Testimony is an act by which people share their stories and their reality. It is simultaneously a personal and public form of communication rendering it courageous in its very nature. In the post-Civil War period, the newly freed African Americans presented testimony to the Freedman’s Bureau, a government agency tasked with supporting the transitions of the formerly enslaved to freedom. Investigating the testimonies of the newly freed from the records of the Bureau allows for a fuller and more nuanced understanding of the rapid changes that were taking place in the country, the hopes and dreams of the newly freed, the challenges they faced, and the rights demanded.

National History Day students who engage with the Freedman’s Bureau records will enhance their project with first person testimony and communication, contribute to cutting edge scholarship, and continue to elevate the struggle of presenting the voices of the oft-marginalized. Engaging with this material will enable you to deepen the learning of your students both within the framework of NHD and beyond. During this workshop, you will learn about the history of the Freedman’s Bureau, explore examples of the records available, discuss the historiography of the Freedman’s Bureau, and work together to build a lesson that can be used in the classroom to teach about the Bureau and the newly freed whom it served.

Presenter: Candra Flanagan, Teaching and Learning Lead, Education Department, National Museum of African American History and Culture, Smithsonian Institution


Words Matter: Communication between Native American Nations and the United States
1:30 - 4:00 p.m., Shoemaker 2102
Critically important historical issues were debated and decisions reached in events where worldviews, cultures, and languages were all factors that affected successful communication. This can be seen with exceptional clarity during the treaty-making process. In this session you will actively engage with activities and online resources from the National Museum of the American Indian that are appropriate for middle and high school students.

Presenters: Michael Hussey, Edwin Schupman, and Catherine Hammer, National Museum of the American Indian, Smithsonian Institution


Tuesday, June 16, 2020

A More Perfect Union
9:00 – 11:30 a.m., Shoemaker 2102

This is a free session available to all teachers. You still need to register for this free session through the contest registration system.

As part of the nationwide A More Perfect Union program, NHD is collaborating with the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) to offer a FREE day of professional development at the NHD National Contest to introduce the 2021 Communication in History: The Key to Understanding theme. The morning session will feature Dr. Kevin Butterfield, the executive director of the Fred W. Smith National Library for the Study of George Washington at Mount Vernon, and Dr. Jason Harshman from the Division of Education Programs at the National Endowment for the Humanities. Dr. Butterfield will explore the latest historical scholarship about Washington and the various strategies he used to communicate his ideas to the fledging government and nation. Dr. Harshman’s session will examine methods and resources for teaching about how presidents have communicated with the public over time.

Presenters: Kevin Butterfield, Executive Director Fred W. Smith National Library for the Study of George Washington at Mount Vernon; Jason Harshman, Division of Education Programs at the National Endowment for the Humanities


Teaching Communications in History:The Key to Understanding
1:30 – 3:30 p.m., Shoemaker 2102
Ms. Lynne O’Hara, NHD’s Director of Programs, will feature examples of presidential communication throughout American history to introduce the nuances of the 2021 theme and explore skill-building activities to help teachers and students prepare for the 2021 NHD contest season.

Presenter: Ms. Lynne O'Hara, Director of Programs, National History Day


Download the Schedule

This is the schedule for both days of teacher professional development.