Modern World History Fair

I am a Modern World History teacher and I like to have a History Fair each year I teach, but during my past three years of teaching there’s been a pandemic so I couldn’t have large gatherings. This year I’m back at it! I organized the fair at the international school where I currently work.

My students were hesitant and didn’t understand what a history fair was. In the end, they were all proud of themselves and I think they’ll want the school to do it again next year.

It was a six-week research unit culminating in 42 unique projects. The assignment was open-ended. The students were to choose their own topic out of absolutely anything we’ve studied this year, do their own independent research, and then do a project based on that research. It was an 8-part unit where they learned all the key facets of research:

  1. Choose a topic
  2. Create a research question
  3. Write a thesis
  4. Minimum 6 sources
    1. 3 primary sources
    2. 3 secondary sources
  5. Annotated Bibliography
  6. Outline
  7. Come up with an idea for a project
  8. Submit the project

I was brutal on them during the research part. I knit-picked their research questions, I made them re-write their theses so many times I think some of them were ready to curse me and I drilled the difference in primary sources and secondary sources so many times I think they could teach next year’s class. They’ll never forget how to do an annotated bibliography and I was shocked by how many high school sophomores acted as if they had no idea what an outline was.

I discovered that the French Revolution, Otto von Bismarck, Joseph Stalin, and the Holocaust are what many of my students enjoyed learning about most this year. I’m impressed with the Bismarck thing; I don’t know how many high school students around the world are enthralled with him.

As is always the case some students obviously threw their projects together the day before it was due and it showed, but others turned in phenomenal work. Many people asked me if this was my AP class, nope this was my at-level class.

I had an amazing poem and a podcast written about the French Revolution and a student even made a pop-up book based on fashion during the French Revolution.

One student made an oil painting representing Napoleon’s invasion of Russia and another wrote a metalcore song based on the Opium Wars!

Two students wrote poems about Otto von Bismarck’s realpolitik rule.

This was made about Stalin.

This student made his own Soviet propaganda posters based on World War II.

Three students based their projects on how art changed in the Inter-War Period, the years between World War I and World War II. He made a scaled paper model of the bat bomb!

I had a project on the Russification of Lithuania and I had a student write a historical fiction short story based on the bombing of Nagasaki told through the eyes of a dog!

This is only a taste of the projects. I hope to continue this tradition year after year no matter where I work.