Wisconsin Historical Society

Guide or Instruction

How to Plan a School-Level NHD Event: Part 1: Getting Started

National History Day in Wisconsin

Plan a School-Level Event: Part 1 | NHD in Wisconsin | Wisconsin Historical Society

This is Part 1 of a 3-part series intended to help you with the judging process and planning a History Day event. The three parts are: Getting Started, Day of the Event, After the Event.

A school event is an excellent way to show the school in a positive manner and demonstrate student achievement. The specific organization and details of your school event will be determined by the needs of your classroom and school.

Part 1: Getting Started

Start planning at least one to three months before your event.

Print Out the School-Level Event Checklist

This checklist is designed to help prepare you to hold a school event. Print it out to guide you through the event-planning process.

Select a Date and Time

Hold your school event at least two weeks before the regional registration deadline. Papers and websites must be sent to regional coordinators by the registration due date so that the judges can view them in advance. Plus, your regional finalists should be allowed time to improve their projects after they get feedback from the school judges.

Select a Location

This could be several classrooms, a library media center, a gym, or any other area with sufficient space to accommodate all projects. Exhibits will need table or floor space, typically 3' wide x 2' deep. Performances will need a stage area. Documentaries will need TVs, VCRs, or other hook-ups. Papers and websites will need a room or area for private interviews, with websites needing computer access to view entries. Judges will need a place for their training session before their interviews with students, then for discussing and ranking entries afterward. Check availability and reserve facilities.

Prepare for Judging

Recruit Judges Early

Start recruiting volunteers to judge a couple of months before your event. At regional, state, and national competitions, three judges are assigned to each panel. You might reduce this number if necessary, but try to keep the panels to a minimum of two judges. To recruit, send out a letter describing the program and detailing volunteer responsibilities and time commitments. Good candidates for judges are current or retired teachers, administrators, local museum or historical society staff, library media specialists, and journalists. Try contacting a nearby university's history or education department. You may also consider asking your local Rotary or other similar organizations for volunteers.

Distribute Information to Judges

Once judges have confirmed their attendance and you have assigned them to a judging category, mail them a confirmation letter. Judges also find it helpful to get the theme sheet for that year, the History Day Judging Process handout, sample questions to ask students, as well as their specific category judging instructions.

Plan the Judging Schedule

Judges will need 15-20 minutes to judge each project and interview the student(s). Make sure to schedule time for judges to participate in a training session and to rank entries and write comments after interviews. The more time judges have, the more thorough they can make their comments.

Give Papers and Websites to Judges Before the Event

Judges in the Paper and Website categories will have a difficult time reading long essay papers or viewing websites if they first get them at the event. Judges in these categories should receive the entries at least a few days in advance.

Photocopy Comment Sheets for the Evaluation Rounds

Be sure to have enough evaluation sheets for each project in the competion, plus a few extras in case judges need a new sheet.

Judging Instructions by Category
Preliminary Round Evaluation Sheets by Category
Final Round Evaluation Sheets by Category

Final round evaulation sheets are a simpler version of the evaluation sheet. These are only used in final rounds.

Have Questions?

Get helpful information and advice for National History Day in Wisconsin.

Get answers to commonly asked questions.

Find information on NHD for your region.