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ERIC Number: EJ963313
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2011-Nov
Pages: 19
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: 0
ISSN: ISSN-0018-2745
Teaching and Learning Competent Historical Documentary Making: Lessons from National History Day Winners
Fehn, Bruce R.; Schul, James E.
History Teacher, v45 n1 p25-43 Nov 2011
Today's students grow up in a technological milieu of hand-held computers with high storage capacities, internet access, and the ability to shoot high definition photographs and video. As such, they are empowered to construct representations of the past virtually "on the run." In this article, the authors investigated the historical "and" documentary-making practices that National History Day (NHD) contestants used to produce prize-winning entries. From analyses of NHD contest winners, the authors found that documentary makers practiced skills of analysis, interpretation, source evaluation, and synthesis. These practices paralleled those enacted by historians and student-historians who produced source-based written accounts. However, documentary makers practiced historical synthesis through a medium--computer software--with history making capacities unique to desktop documentary making. From studying NHD productions, together with scholarship on documentary making, the authors identified history production practices teachers can teach, and students can learn, to produce competent documentaries of less than ten-minute duration. This article's organization is as follows. First, after providing background on National History Day, the authors argue for documentary making's integration into history classrooms. Secondly, they identify documentary-making practices, or conventions, NHD winners exercised to produce "competent," prize-winning documentaries. Lastly, in the article's conclusion, they discuss how teachers can foster competent documentary-making practices in secondary school classrooms. This includes discussion of how documentary making works powerfully in tandem with written accounts of the past to deepen students' understanding of the ways historians, whether in print or through film, employ varieties of evidence to construct the past. (Contains 2 figures and 25 notes.)
Society for History Education. California State University, Long Beach, 1250 Bellflower Boulevard, Long Beach, CA 90840-1601. Tel: 562-985-2573; Fax: 562-985-5431; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: Secondary Education
Audience: Students; Teachers
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A