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Guiding students through topic selection is a foundational job for the History Fair teacher. Topics come from a student’s curiosity, interest, or passion—they cannot be imposed.  There are many tactics teachers can use to help students find topics they are passionate about.

  • Our “History Fair and You” handout can help students find a topic that matches their interests.
  • Direct them to the History Fair Topics list on the current theme to look for ideas.
  • Use our “History Fair Interest Survey” Google Form to help students learn which areas of history interest them (you will need to be signed into a Google account and “Make a Copy” of the survey for yourself before administering it to students).
  • Suggest they identify current issues and help them work backwards to find a similar topic from the past.
  • Encourage students to talk to their elders, or flip through history books and popular history magazines, newsmagazines, or documentaries.
  • Visit or museum or scan online digital collections. Scrolling through the Encyclopedia of Chicago can also spark interest.

Worksheets will help students to define and assess their topic to make sure it is doable.

Give students a preferred notetaking system to avoid plagiarism and encourage them to maintain their annotated bibliography as they conduct their research.

We highly recommend that schools take advantage of the free one-year trial version of NOODLE TOOLS, available through NHD. See significant improvement in student note-taking, citation and bibliography-making, tasking–and, for the teacher, feedback and management of student work.

These two notetaking guides can also be helpful:

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