An Interview with Investigating History through Project-Based Learning Creators

We’ve been hard at work developing new and exciting resources for Ohio’s students and educators. Check out the below interview with OHC staff Alex Eveleth and Dr. John Michael Sefel about Ohio History Day’s newest educational offering, Investigating History through Project-Based Learning.

How would you describe Investigating History and how it can be used by Ohio teachers?

ALEX: Investigating History is an interdisciplinary supplemental curriculum that teachers can incorporate into their classroom to support student led project-based learning. It’s a great tool to add into your classroom with minimal effort. You can pick and choose lessons and activities that best fit your students and classroom so you’re not stuck doing lessons that your students don’t really need. And the best part is, it’s free!

What were your roles in developing this program?

JOHN MICHAEL: Well, understand – lots of people have contributed to its creation. It all starts with Samantha Rubino, State Coordinator of Ohio History Day –

ALEX: She’s great!

JOHN MICHAEL: Absolutely! She wanted to create something that would keep Ohio a leader in National History Day offerings and embrace project-based learning strategies for diverse student needs and interests. She built support from OHC, the RemotEDx grant, and other partners to make all this possible. We then spent months developing ideas with feedback from an amazing group of expert Ohio social studies educators – teachers who work with students day-in, day-out. From there, I collaborated and pulled in favors from all kinds of educators, experts, OHC staff, and students to expand content. And that’s where Alex –


JOHN MICHAEL: (laughs) That’s where Alex came in with her particular brand of magic.

ALEX: Since I’ve spent the last 10 years as an educator, I know the key starting point for every lesson is standards. I took all those awesome pieces of content the John Michael and company created and made sure that they were applicable to multiple state standards and made a pacing guide so teachers can quickly see a lesson could be incorporated into an already busy classroom. No fiddling with a lesson to make sure it fits a standard! We did all that busy work for you!

How did you decide what lessons to include?

JOHN MICHAEL: Well, the lessons are divided into three units – “Thinking About History,” which includes materials on historical thinking, primary vs. secondary sources, things like that – then “Researching History,” which helps students do the actual, hard work of research. Finally, “Teaching History” guides students through turning their research into presentations and projects.

ALEX: Some of my favorites are the resources that students can use and refer back to at any step in the research or creation process, like the project journal designed to make sure students don’t lose any of their research. I also love the historical argument checklist that really helps students refine and polish their thesis no matter where they are in the research process

This all sounds great. Who can use it and how can people find out more?

ALEX: One of the beautiful things about Investigating History is its flexibility – it’s designed for students in grades 6-12 at all levels of learning, whether in-person or remote, so it fits in nearly every classroom! Teachers can find out more by contacting us at [email protected]. Stay tuned for the official launch of the curriculum in July 2022!

Posted June 14, 2022

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