By: Lexi Gribble ’18
Lexi Gribble is a 2018 Ball State graduate of Honors College with a degree in Social Studies Education and History. After graduating, she taught Social Studies in Indianapolis and Marion, IN. Lexi currently works as the State Coordinator of National History Day in Indiana and as the Education Manager at the Indiana Historical Society in Indianapolis.
National History Day in Indiana is an affiliate of National History Day®.
I have always had an interest in helping others explore and understand the world they live in. When I came to Ball State University as an undergraduate to study Social Studies Education and History, I wanted to learn how to think historically and then how to help others to do the same. Since graduating in 2018, I have worked as an educator helping students of various ages learn about Indiana and beyond. First, that learning took place in the traditional classroom, and now at the Indiana Historical Society.
As the Education Manager at the Indiana Historical Society, my job is to help support the work of K-12 Indiana teachers by providing Indiana-centered educational resources. Within this work, I also serve as the State Coordinator of National History Day in Indiana. In this program students in grades 4-12 research and create a project on a historical topic that fits under an annual theme. Each school year, students have the option to create an exhibit, website, documentary, paper, or performance. Students create these projects in their own classrooms in consultation with their teachers, and then they can bring their projects to contests held throughout the state of Indiana. We hold regional competitions in February and March of each year throughout the state in places like Columbia City, Terre Haute, and Carmel.
Students bring their projects and are interviewed by a small panel of judges who ask them questions about their research. Students compete in either the youth division (grades 4-5), the junior division (grades 6-8), or the senior division (grades 9-12). They are judged on a rubric that focuses on the student’s historical argument and quality of research. Students who place at their regional competition can bring their work to the state competition held each April in Indianapolis. The event brings together students from across Indiana to showcase their work for the chance to win best in their division and category. Students can also submit their projects for consideration for our special prizes, which come with a cash prize for both the student and teacher. If a student places first or second, they are eligible to travel to College Park, Maryland (right outside Washington D.C.) to compete in the national competition in June. It is an amazing week of meeting people from around the country, students presenting projects, and exploring the nation’s capital.
Before becoming the state coordinator, I taught middle and high school Social Studies. As a teacher, I spent many years as a judge for the program, and I saw first-hand the impact it can have on student learning. Students who participate take ownership of their education by choosing a topic they are interested in exploring and engaging in project-based learning. Students use their historical thinking skills to analyze the past and make a claim based on their research. It is exciting to see how this program takes a lot of the skills that I learned at Ball State University and puts them into practice.
National History Day in Indiana would not be possible without community support across the state. There are no specific qualifications needed to judge a competition. Judges are community members who want to help support the work of students and celebrate their research and achievements. I started judging competitions the year after I graduated, and I found it useful to practice what I had learned in my Social Studies Teaching and History classes as a judge. From the judging rubrics, style of questioning during student interviews, and deliberation between judges when ranking projects, judging is a great opportunity to support historical thinking. This program helps current and potential future historians study the skills they need to complete historical research.
National History Day in Indiana allows everyone of all ages, from students to teachers and judges, to practice historical thinking skills in an environment that celebrates student achievement and project-based learning. I encourage everyone to explore the program, and if you want to learn more, come judge a competition in the Spring. You will be amazed by the students’ projects and their determination to explore the past.
If you want more information, click here to check out our website where you can find all the resources you need to learn more about National History Day in Indiana. If you are interested in signing up to judge, please click here to fill out our sign-up form.