Chicago Metro History Fair
Teacher Newsletter
September 2020
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In This Issue
  • Going Virtual for 2021
  • Civics and Common Core Alignment
  • PD Opportunities
Hey there, History Fair Educators!
Did you hear? The History Fair is going Virtual for 2021! This wasn't an easy decision, but making it now lets us all begin preparing for the season with solid ground under our feet. You can read more about what this means for History Fair below and follow the latest on our Virtual Contests page
There is a Google Calendar available for CMHF teachers here. If you'd like to use it to keep track of upcoming CMHF PDs, dates and deadlines, you can add it to your own calendar by clicking the Add to Calendar button at the bottom of the screen. One new upcoming event on the calendar is our Ask Us Anything on Friday October 9 where we invite you to drop in and, well, ask us anything (related to History Fair, that is). And of course, don't forget our Teacher Kickoff on October 20!
CMHF is seeking a part-time CMHF Educator to support you and your students throughout the school year. Check out the job posting and share it with any qualified candidates you may know! 
Now that school is in session, what discoveries are you making about teaching in our new normal? What concerns do you see with teaching History Fair this year? What opportunities? We invite you to share what's on your mind in our Teachers' Facebook Group, complete our Back-to-School Survey, or email us at!
Looking forward to supporting you and your students through a successful Virtual 2021 season,
Tyler Monaghan, CMHF Manager
PS - here's quick access to our Intent to Participate form for 2021, the CMHF Theme and Topics page, and our updated 2021 Dates and Deadlines! Don't forget to complete the Intent form if your school plans to participate this year!
Going Virtual for 2021
You can learn more about what went into the decision to go Virtual in 2021 on our Virtual Contests page, which will serve as a hub for information and updates about the Virtual contest format. Fortunately, we learned a lot from last year's experience (where over 50% of CMHF judging took place virtually, along with state and nationals) and we have a lot more time to prepare this year. 
What it Means for Project Categories
Although all five History Fair project categories are still available, you should consider how the switch to virtual contests will affect the project categories you offer. Students should consider this when selecting their project categories. The following shows how each category is different this year compared to a traditional in-person contest:
  • Websites, documentaries, and papers are substantially the same as the in-person contest in terms of the actual product that will be produced and presented to judges.
  • Performances will not be performed live for judges. Performances must be video-recorded either in-person or over a video-conferencing platform such as Zoom. Students will also complete a companion worksheet (coming soon).
  • Exhibits may be either:
    • created as a traditional, physical tri-panel exhibit and converted to a virtual template for judging, OR
    • created in Google Drawings using guidelines that mirror the specifications of the in-person exhibit
We are in the final stages of developing the full guidance for each project category and will provide this at our Teacher Kickoff on October 20 (or sooner).
Civics and Common Core Alignment
Showing how your instruction aligns with instructional mandates and standards is an essential part of your practice, and we want to highlight some resources to help:
Illinois Civics Mandate
ISBE has a new Civics Mandate for middle schools, and History Fair can help! In fact, Illinois History Day (of which CMHF is a regional affiliate) is actually listed as a suggested resource on the ISBE Social Science page that describes the mandate. CMHF has specific guidance connecting the History Fair process to particular wording in the mandate
Common Core
As a regional affilate of National History Day (NHD), you can apply these Common Core connections and correlations from the Wisconsin Dept. of Public Instruction to your History Fair instruction!
Check out our updated IB-MYP guidance for how CMHF aligns to the International Baccalaureate Middle Years Programme.
We invite your feedback on these guidance documents! We're also working on building guidance that shows alignment to ISBE's Social Science standards, the high school Civics Mandate, and others. Do you have guidance you would like to see, or would you like to contribute? Email us and let us know!
Professional Development
CMHF PD Offerings
CMHF offers free professional development workshops throughout the fall to help History Fair teachers and prospective teachers learn about the History Fair. Coming soon:
  • Next week! NHDWebCentral on September 30
    • ​A walkthough of the platform​ used for all website projects
  • Ask Us Anything on October 9​*
    • Drop in at the end of the schoolweek to Ask Us Anything about History Fair
  • Teacher's Kickoff on October 20
    • ​Keynote remarks from Skyla Hearn, Manager of Archives for Cook County
    • Breakout rooms to connect you with valuable online resources
    • Important 2021 info and updates and the launch of our 2021 Teacher Guide
All PD dates are listed on our CMHF Teacher Calendar
Click here to visit the CMHF PD page to learn more and sign up. CMHF PD offerings are free for teachers.
*No PD Hours awarded
NHD PD Offerings
Using Library of Congress Resources to Build a Historical Argument, December 14 through April 22:
  • Focus on the skills of historical argumentation, featuring resources from the Library of Congress. Includes four live webinars with an expert historian and an NHD curriculum specialist. Develop strategies to help your students think like a historian and develop a solid historical argument. 
  • This is a FREE course available to only ONE teacher per NHD affiliate, and is worth 90 PD hours! If you are interested, we encourage you to apply at the NHD Professional Development page right away (and let us know so that we can try to secure your spot on behalf of IL)!
We also want to point you to the NHD Virtual 2020 Teacher page, which is full of interesting video resources. The "NHD Teacher Bag" is packed with folders full of info-sheets and resources from NHD's research partners.
Join the Community!
Need a great lesson idea? Have one to share? You're not alone! Join our Teachers-only Facebook group for a welcoming online place to share, ask, and plan with other HF teachers.
Join the Group
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