FIRST OF ALL --- RELAX (IT'S GONNA BE FUN)
Research - a word that frightens many people - is the true heart of a great National History Day project. Sixty percent of the contest rubric judges use to score students at the official contests derives from historical content. Many students shudder at the seemingly overwhelming task of locating, gathering, processing, and incorporating historical information into their projects. Do not worry: I am going to divide the task up for you into manageable deadlines as well as teach you how to do quality research.
In place of groaning when you hear the word "research," I want you have a Pavlovian response of "Oh boy, I get to research something I really love!" Research can be really fun though in its own way, especially when you are researching something that interests you. And who picks the topic of your NHD project? You do! So, choose a topic that fits the theme that you have always wanted to know more about. Likewise, select a topic that provides you with ample sources of both primary and secondary sources of information.
The first semester (nine weeks 1 and 2) students will devote to researching their approved topics that fit this year's contest theme. Students will do a minimum of 100 "fact cards" and at least 12 "source cards" by the end of the semester. The first nine weeks research will be devoted to primary sources (sources directly from people who experienced events), and the second nine weeks research will devoted to secondary sources (indirect sources of information about historical events by people who did not directly experience them). Students will not begin building their projects until second semester begins in January 2013.
SAMPLE FACT CARD
RULES FOR FACT CARDS
- These cards must be handwritten.
- Must have topic line with topic of all 3 facts on card in top left corner on the pink line of index card.
- Must have unique source # and unique fact card # (keep a “running count”) in the top right corner on the pink line on index card.
- Must write facts in complete subjects (subject + predicate + punctuation mark).
- Must number the facts 1, 2, and 3.
- Quotes are not facts, but you may write a quote on the back of the card, and write three facts about the quote on the front. Likewise, you may glue an image on the back and have three facts on the front about the image.
- You may do extra fact cards about the same topic (but need three additional facts for each card).
SAMPLE SOURCE CARD (Print Source)
SAMPLE SOURCE CARD (Internet Source)
RULES FOR SOURCE CARDS
- These are handwritten.
- Must have a source line with unique number (keep running count) in top left corner on pink line of index card.
- Source must be cited in MLA style. You must create a free account and utilize this website: http://www.easybib.com/ EasyBib is a free bibliography website that allows you to cite sources easily, correctly, and quickly in the latest MLA version (MLA 7th edition). All you need to remember to do is add your annotation.
- Must have a two sentence annotation (complete sentences) telling how you used the work and of what value it was to your research process. My sample notecards above only show one sentence on the front (the back of the card would have a second sentence).
- Notice the correct hanging indent and do likewise. (ONLY the first line goes to the left margin --- all additional lines for that entry INCLUDING the annotation are indented five character spaces.
- MLA rules specify double-spacing for bibliographic sources so double-space your source cards.
FINAL RULES FOR INDEX CARDS
- When you turn these in put the source cards together on top followed by the fact cards at the back.
- You may finish a long fact on the back of the card if need be.
- You may utilize either 3x5 or 4x6 index cards – your choice.
- You may devise a color-coded system of your own, but this is NOT required.
- You may purchase a file box for your index cards if you prefer, but otherwise Godfrey will provide you with a ziplock bag for the cards.
Research cards count 20% of the nine weeks grade for 1st and 2nd nine weeks – so be sure that you do a neat and correct job with these index cards. Remember that it is solid research that makes a NHD project authentic and historically well-grounded. People can always tell if the project is shoddy due to poor quality research or insufficient information.