Opportunities for Collaboration with
the NARA Education Program
Lee Ann Potter,
Education and Volunteer Programs Manager
Brief Description of Education Program
NARA's education office has been working in successful partnership with educators for more than 25 years to promote the use of primary sources in the classroom, produce engaging and teachable document-based materials, and demonstrate active-learning techniques that bring documents to life for students at every level. Additional opportunities for collaboration in these areas with members of the historical community are welcome and sought.
Published materials, created by education staff members, feature facsimile documents from NARA's archival holdings which span our nation's history and correlate to national academic standards in history, civics and government, social studies, and geography. Of special interest are the paper-based, four-volume publication "Teaching with Documents" and 13 topical curriculum units (both series published in partnership with ABC-CLIO); and a wide variety of pedagogical materials available through NARA's online "Digital Classroom" at http://www.archives.gov/education/.
Workshops and Other Presentations
In addition to developing publications, staff members also conduct workshops for educators throughout the country on how to do research in primary sources, create classroom materials from historical records, and present documents in ways that sharpen students' critical thinking skills and enthusiasm for history. While instruction is sometimes given through on-campus teacher training programs offered by history departments or schools of education, most workshops are conducted at national and regional professional meetings. Each summer NARA conducts an intensive, eight-day workshop in Washington, DC, for classroom teachers and other individuals responsible for developing primary source materials and professional development opportunities for teachers. In addition, presentations are available through videoconferencing.
Teaching American History Grants
We have worked extensively with recipients of the Teaching American History Grants (sponsored by the U.S. Department of Education)-- In some cases we have done a series of videoconferences. In other cases we have done half-day off-site workshops. Individual teachers in numerous grant projects have participated in Primarily Teaching, our summer institute; and we have conducted on-site programs. It should be noted that over the past few years we have been approached by dozens of groups applying for the TAHGs. Due to limited staff resources, we made a decision the very first year not to be identified as a "Partner" in any of the grant proposals. Our rationale was not that we did not want to work with the groups, but rather, that we did not want to pick and choose who we could and who we could not work with. And, we did not want to find ourselves in a situation where we were unable to work with non-TAHG groups. As a national institution, serving a nationwide audience, partnering with some and not others would not be fair. We try our best to accommodate all requests that we receive in a timely manner.
Similar educational programs are offered by NARA's regional archives and the Presidential libraries.
More about TAH Partnerships with regional archives (PDF Brochure)
Audiences Addressed by Program
Projects involve K-16 educators and students across the disciplines, as well as educational researchers, public historians, librarians, media specialists, archivists, museum educators, and publishers from across the country and other nations.
NARA's education program is chiefly supported by federal operating funds. The special web-based "Constitution Community" project in The Digital Classroom was funded through a $47,870 grant from the U.S. Department of Education and the Government Information Technology Services Board (GITSB) Innovation Fund as part of the Federal Resources for Educational Excellence (FREE) project. Institutes sponsored in collaboration with private partners are generally funded, in part, by NEH or other sponsoring organizations.
Key Resource People
- Marvin Pinkert, Executive Director of the National Archives Experience
- Lee Ann Potter, Director of Education and Volunteer Programs
- Stephanie Greenhut, Education Technology Specialist
- Michael Hussey, Historian
- Megan Jones, Education Specialist
- Missy McNatt, Education Specialist
- David Rosenbaum, Education Specialist
Designated staff in NARA's regional archives and Presidential libraries
Value of Collaboration
When NARA pioneered its teaching with documents program more than 25 years ago, small numbers of the education community were conducting regular archival research or using primary sources in teaching or publication. In the intervening years, the community has steadily gained interest in locating significant and interesting documents and a greater recognition of the valuable role primary sources can play in a variety of educational settings. With the increased emphasis in national academic standards on the use of primary sources in the classroom and with the urgent call from teachers and publishers for document-based materials to help meet this need, the National Archives remains committed to using its archival experience--in partnership with the educational community--to make archival sources readily available to users in convenient and usable formats, accompanied by creative suggestions for their use.