Crafting Innovative Professional Development

Written by: Lynne M. O’Hara, Director of Programs, National History Day

For teachers, time is always a challenge.   In addition to teaching their classes, teachers wear many hats:  as sponsors, as coaches, as spouses and partners, and as parents.   Despite the challenges of time, many teachers work hard to develop the craft of teaching and improve their content knowledge in order to enhance the experience of the students in their classrooms.  In many states, teachers are charged with earning graduate credit in order to earn a permanent certificate, salary advancement, or license renewal.

At times professional development can be frustrating.  In-service days of sitting in an auditorium being lectured to rarely result in inspiration and breakthroughs.   The best professional development results occur when teachers leave with classroom ready materials.  In addition, it has to be adaptable and applicable to the grade and level of students one is teaching.

National History Day (NHD) wants to expand and support professional development for Social Studies teachers, English teachers, and School Librarians across the nation and around the world.   For the last 30 years, NHD has developed materials, lessons, and summer institutes to help teachers improve their content knowledge and their strategies for working with students.

In an effort to reach a larger number and broader scope of teachers across the nation, NHD is offering online professional development – webinars and hangouts designed to help teachers learn from their homes and classrooms.   These online learning opportunities – developed in partnership with the Library of Congress, the National Archives and Records Administration, and the National Endowment for the Humanities – has found an audience of eager teachers and librarians seeking professional development on their schedule.

For the fall of 2014, NHD will be offering our first graduate course, an Introduction to Project-Based Learning through the National History Day Curriculum Framework.  The course will provide practical advice as well as pedagogical strategies.  Teachers will earn three graduate credits from the University of San Diego while creating classroom-ready materials customized to the needs of their students.

Teachers will work on independently-paced modules with weekly deadlines.  This allows a teacher to complete his or her work at any time of day from anywhere in the world. At the end of this course, participants will be able to analyze the reasoning behind project-based learning and its connections to Common Core Curriculum and C3 Framework, develop an action plan to implement NHD into their specific classrooms, create classroom materials that can be used at each stage of the inquiry process, and develop a portfolio of research resources to help them develop connections to assist their students with the research process.

The course will run from September 15 to December 15, 2014 and details can be found:

We hope that you will consider joining us in the fall to experience professional development on your schedule!


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One response to “Crafting Innovative Professional Development

  1. Pingback: Education Updates » Fall Graduate Course from National History Day

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