National Archives’ DocsTeach
Press Release · Thursday, February 24, 2011
Expansion of New Online Site by Teachers Nationwide
The Foundation for the National Archives and the National Archives announce the official launch of a revolutionary new web site, www.DocsTeach.org. The web site, created with the support of Texas Instruments, was introduced to the education community in September, and teachers nationwide quickly responded with enthusiasm and resounding participation.
DocsTeach started with a collection of primary source documents, a group of seven interactive tools, and two dozen sample activities. In less than six months, teachers across the nation have created and shared more than 1,700 additional educational activities. This expanding collection of custom-made lesson plans help teach history, civics, math, and science in new and exciting ways! Now, the ever-growing web site, which can be used not only by teachers and students, but also by anyone who loves to learn, is being presented to the larger online community.
“DocsTeach.org is a significant and welcome addition to our popular education programs,” said Archivist of the United States David S. Ferriero. “It will engage teachers and students in new ways and stir their interest in diverse topics, through the use of original documents in the National Archives. It is also consistent with our goals to make as much of our holdings available to the public as easily as possible.”
Not only does the site invite educators to explore more than 4,000 documents in a variety of media from the holdings of the National Archives—items such as George Washington’s draft of the Constitution, the cancelled check for the purchase of Alaska, Chuck Yeager’s notes on the first supersonic flight, and President Richard Nixon’s resignation letter—but it also allows teachers to combine these materials using clever tools to create engaging activities that students can access online.
“DocsTeach truly is almost too cool and useful for words …This is the sort of 21st century tool that we need to be using as a part of our instruction,” said Glenn Wiebe on the History Tech blog.
The web site, created with the help of Second Story Interactive, features seven tools designed to teach specific historical thinking skills—weighing evidence, interpreting data, focusing on details, and more. Each employs interactive components including puzzles, scales, maps, flow charts, and others that teachers and students can tailor to their needs.
On the site, teachers can 1) browse or search for documents and activities, 2) customize any activity to fit the needs of a unique classroom, 3) create a brand new activity with its own web address from scratch, using one of seven distinctive tools, and 4) save and organize activities in an account to share with students. After participating in an activity, the site allows students to submit their work to their teacher via e-mail.
Other typical online educational tools are prescriptive – they provide a specified set of activities on a single subject. Any interactivity is usually separated from the lesson plan, which takes the form of an article or essay. DocsTeach is revolutionary because the interactive is the lesson; teachers can create lessons from scratch, adapt lessons from others, or even let their students create the lessons; and a single suite of tools can be applied to a broad range of subjects and skill levels.
DocsTeach advances the National Archives’ ability to meet its strategic goal of improving civic literacy. The Archives is not just “providing” methods and materials, but is using the power of the Internet to encourage educators to participate, create, and share, not only with their students, but also with others.
“DocsTeach aligns Texas Instruments’ long-time partnership with the National Archives with the company’s focus on engaging students in science, math, engineering and technology (STEM) education,” said Paula Collins, Texas Instruments vice president of governmental affairs. “We are especially pleased that the web site includes activities that teach not only history and civics, but also math and science, by including Archives records such as scientific inventions, graphs, and census data. Texas Instruments is proud to support this creative and exciting initiative.”
About the National Archives
The National Archives and Records Administration is an independent Federal agency that preserves and shares with the public records that trace the story of our nation, government, and the American people. From the Declaration of Independence to accounts of ordinary Americans, the holdings of the National Archives directly touch the lives of millions of people. The National Archives is a public trust upon which our democracy depends, ensuring access to essential evidence that protects the rights of American citizens, documents the actions of the government, and reveals the evolving national experience.
About the Foundation for the National Archives
The Foundation for the National Archives is an independent nonprofit that serves as the National Archives’ private-sector partner in the creation of and ongoing support of the National Archives Experience, which includes permanent exhibits, educational programs, traveling exhibits, special events and film screenings, educational literature, and historical/records-related products and media. The Foundation helps the public understand the importance of the holdings of the National Archives by presenting the depth and diversity of the records through award-winning, interactive educational exhibits and programs. It generates financial and creative support for the National Archives Experience from individuals, foundations, and corporations who share a belief in the importance of innovative civics education.
About Texas Instruments
Texas Instruments (NYSE: TXN) helps customers solve problems and develop new electronics that make the world smarter, healthier, safer, greener and more fun. A global semiconductor company, TI innovates through design, sales and manufacturing operations in more than 30 countries. For more information, go to www.ti.com.
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For press information contact the National Archives Public Affairs staff at 202-357-5300.
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