“Primary Sources Rock.”
I first read that tweet in October 2010, in reaction to the launch of DocsTeach.org, our then brand-new online tool for teaching with documents. I used that phrase the next month as the title of my post on our sister blog, NARAtions, in which I shared some of the great feedback we were already hearing about the site.
In two and a half years, of course, many things have changed about DocsTeach.
Most notably, more teachers and students than ever are using it in the classroom and at home. We were excited about our 3,300 registered users in 2010, but we are thrilled that 20,000 additional users have joined the community! And that’s just registered users. Hundreds of thousands of people have now visited and made use of DocsTeach.org.
Anyone can still access thousands of digitized primary sources from all three branches of government. But instead of the roughly 3,000 on the site in 2010, you can now find almost 7,000. There are over:
- 2,000 written documents;
- 4,000 images, including photographs, posters, drawings and more;
- 120 maps;
- 100 charts and graphs; and
- 200 audio and video files.
And we’re constantly adding more as we find them in the holdings of the National Archives. Our RSS feed and following @DocsTeach on Twitter are easy ways to stay up-to-date on newly added documents.
You can still find online learning activities to share with students. But now there are almost 70 that were created and recommended by educators at the National Archives. Over 1,300 additional activities—created by other educators from all around the world—are available when you log in, and can be modified to fit your needs.
You can still choose from seven interactive tools to create your own online activities for students, including Finding a Sequence, Focusing on Details, Interpreting Data, Making Connections, Mapping History, Seeing the Big Picture, and Weighing the Evidence. And now you can watch any of our tutorials available on YouTube to learn more about using a particular tool or feature.
You can still use DocsTeach on your computer, but as of last April there is a free DocsTeach App for iPad. Use your account to gather activities that you found or created into classrooms. Share them with your students online, like in our Civics & Government classroom, or assign them using the DocsTeach app. (Type in code qcs097 to get to this classroom in the iPad app.)
We’ve created some special editions of DocsTeach to highlight documents surrounding anniversaries, themes, and exhibits at our building in Washington, DC. Some of our pages are:
- Get Ready for National History Day!,
- 1970s America,
- Teaching with the Records of Congress,
- Turning Points in the Nixon & Ford Years,
- American Revolution, Founding a Nation,
- our Constitution Day page,
- Teaching with Civil War Documents, and
- History Can Be Delicious! A food-themed edition to complement an exhibit called “What’s Cooking Uncle Sam?”
A few things haven’t changed since DocsTeach launched. We’re still pleased when we hear about educators discovering and using DocsTeach for the first time. We’re still excited that so many have made DocsTeach a regular part of their instruction. We love that DocsTeach is a community of educators sharing resources. And primary sources still rock!
And we’re happy to report that DocsTeach will keep changing—we wouldn’t want it to stay the same. If you think there are topics that need more related documents or activities, let us know!