We’re happy to share some recent improvements we’ve made to DocsTeach.org, our online tool for teaching with documents from the National Archives!
New Analyzing Documents Tool
We’re very excited about our first new activity tool since we launched DocsTeach almost seven years ago!
Create activities with the Analyzing Documents tool to teach students the process of document analysis:
- Meet the document.
- Observe its parts.
- Try to make sense of it.
- Use it as historical evidence.
Analyzing Documents activities guide students through primary source documents for contextual understanding and to extract information to make informed judgments. Read more about this tool — or jump right in by creating a new activity and choosing Analyzing Documents as your activity type. Choose the type of document (photograph,
written document, artifact, poster, map, cartoon, video, or sound recording) to set analysis questions for your students.
Check out an example of an activity made with the new tool: Analyzing a Child Labor Photograph
Managing Students’ Responses
We listened to educators who told us they wanted to use DocsTeach with their students, but weren’t interested in receiving an email every time one of their students completed an activity.
Now you can view your students’ completed activities on the My Students’ Responses page. You can even create groups to organize your students’ work — students will choose from the groups that you set up when they finish their activities. And you can use the new My Response Settings page to turn off email notifications entirely if you’d like.
To test out this feature or change your settings, log in and choose My Account in the menu.
We’ve drastically improved search functionality so that you can more easily find the primary sources and activities that you’re looking for. Now when you search for Vietnam War, for example, you’ll only get results that have both the words Vietnam and War. But we included other options, so you can pick the type of search that you prefer.
We also changed how our search works so that you get the most relevant results first. Searching Chinese Exclusion Act, for example, gives you the actual Act first, followed by documents related to the topic.
Recently Added Documents
As always, we’ve been adding more primary sources – here are some recent highlights, documents from two Supreme Court cases:
Buck v. Bell – This newly digitized case file concerns the issue of involuntary sterilization and can help students learn about the eugenics movement in the United States. Read more about the case in another recent blog post.
Worcester v. Georgia – This case established the principle of “tribal sovereignty.” The Supreme Court ruled that states, like Georgia, could not diminish rights of tribes because the Cherokee Nation constituted a nation holding distinct sovereign powers as granted by Congress and the United States.
We’ve made additional behind-the-scenes updates to improve the overall DocsTeach experience. We hope these changes will make the site easier to use, and an even better tool for bringing history to life. But we always love to hear feedback — so let us know if you have an idea to improve DocsTeach!