Tuesday, April 11, 2017

History Day Reflection

Throughout third quarter in Goal, we worked on a project called National History Day. The theme of History Day this year was 'Taking a Stand in History'. My group and I chose for our project to revolve around Alexander Hamilton. Hamilton falls in the theme because throughout his entire life, Alexander worked for one thing: a standing legacy. Although Hamilton wasn't the most perfect founding father, he did have a goal for life. He wanted to make America into something great. He did this by fighting in the Revolutionary War, originating the National Bank, and much more. Even though he worked throughout his life for this legacy, he wouldn't be well known today if it weren't for his wife and Lin-Manuel Miranda, both who have devoted many years just for Alexander.

At the History Day competition, my group had an interview. Here, we were asked multiple questions about our project. Today, we looked over a review sheet and got to read comments the judges made about us. A couple things that came up were that we were very knowledgable about our topic and we focused a little too much on the Hamilton musical. I agree with the fact we knew a lot about Hamilton. We worked hard in class and had a lot of quality research. I can see where the judges were coming from about the focusing too much on the musical aspect, but I also disagree a bit. We may have mentioned the musical a lot, but we also included how that tied in with the real world, and how Lin contributed to that point in history. I think we were also a little nervous, so it was hard to focus on three things at once. If the judges mentioned the musical, we were more likely to talk only about the musical, rather than everything as a whole. 

The most interesting thing I learned about Hamilton while conducting research was how truly passionate he was. Alexander did many stupid things in his life, like having an affair, but he always showed the world his motives, and his always made up for it. Hamilton had one goal in life, and that was to make sure his name lived on, but in a good way. Even if he'd done something wrong, he'd prove the reasons behind it, and try to clear up the rumors. For example, Hamilton was blackmailed by his mistress' husband. When other men in his workplace found documents of expense records, Alexander was publicly accused of embezzling government funds. Instead of letting people believe he was a liar and a thief, Hamilton published a book about his affair and how he didn't spend government funds, but rather his own money. Although many people look at this scenario and think, "Wow, what an idiot," it was really Hamilton's own way of defending himself. 

I believe the hardest part of this project was getting started. Since Alexander Hamilton is such a well known name, searching for sources was very overwhelming at first. Source after source. Every single time we tried searching for a small detail, things would pop up like crazy. After we got our basic information, it started becoming easier to find other details in various documents.

As a student, I improved during History Day. I learned how to handle deadlines much better. I also learned how to sort through lots of information in order to find what I need and how to correctly cite and annotate various sources. I think I became more mature during this unit as well. If I wanted to get something done, I'd work hard on it all period. I don't like to screw around; I want to accomplish things with quality.

I could improve our project by polishing up the website more, using media, and finding more pictures. The main reason we lost points was because we focused too much on the musical portion of Hamilton. I think we had a fair amount of information about the musical, but I think we could have used more information about Hamilton's legacy itself. If I could go back and fix this, I'd add more to the paragraphs explaining how the whole project tied together.

I think I'm most proud of the fact that our group overcame obstacles and worked together. At first, we had a lot of arguments and someone was always upset with another member of the group. By the end of History Day, we could all easily get along and worked hard to reach the final deadline. Even though we didn't make state, I think regionals was a fun experience and I'm proud that our project was there among many other talented students.


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