Not using DocsTeach!? We need to talk

Eisenhower talks to soldiers in the field

Okay. I know some of you are using DocsTeach (opens in new tab).

And why not?

Using primary sources from its collection, the crack National Archives education staff has been creating and sharing quality lessons for eight years (opens in new tab). The idea at DocsTeach is simple – provide high-quality lessons and activities based on primary sources and focused on building historical and critical thinking skills.

You can borrow from an ever-expanding collection of document based activities built by National Archives specialists and teachers around the world. Use or modify ready-made activities. Craft, save, and share your own using online tools like these:

Whether you use the pre-made activities or creating your own, DocsTeach is perfect for classroom demos, small group or whole class work, and individual in-class or homework assignments. Your kids can return their work (opens in new tab) via your DocsTeach account, Google Classroom, or the DocsTeach App for iPad.

Did we mention that it’s free?

So . . . seriously. If you’re not using DocsTeach, you and I need to chat. Cause it’s awesome and your job is difficult enough without having to muck around online looking for useful tools.

If you’re new to DocsTeach, head over here for a bit longer overview (opens in new tab). Then bounce over to their Getting Started page (opens in new tab). If you’ve been using DocsTeach, high five. You already know it’s awesome and that the DocsTeach team is always adding new stuff.

So scroll down for some of their latest awesomeness:

September 17 is designated Constitution Day. Many of you are asked to deliver activities and lessons specific to founding documents during that week but it can sometimes be difficult finding useful resources. DocsTeach has got you covered. Use the special DocsTeach Constitution page (opens in new tab) to teach checks and balances, separation of powers, amendments, and more with primary sources and online activities.

An original copy of the U.S. Constitution

 World War II Era “Newsmaps” (opens in new tab)
Issued weekly by the U.S. Army, Newsmap was distributed to the military and provided news about the progress of war. They were designed for posting on bulletin boards or other display areas, and include information, photos, illustrations, and maps. These are super helpful for building context with your kids. 

A newsmap, distributed by the U.S. Army to the military during WWII

The Slave Trade (opens in new tab)
These newly digitized documents provide evidence of the slave trade in the United States before the “Act Prohibiting the Importation of Slaves” took effect in 1808, illegal trading after the act, the Amistad case, and the legal domestic trade between U.S. ports that persisted until the Emancipation Proclamation and 13th Amendment. 

Original slave manifest from 1823

Foreign Affairs Political Cartoons (opens in new tab)
These cartoons cover American foreign policy from the Spanish American War to the start of World War II. Clifford Berryman, one of Washington, DC’s best-known cartoonists in the early to mid-1900s, drew for the Washington Post and Evening Star newspapers. 

Political cartoon by Clifford Berryman

The 1918 Flu Pandemic (opens in new tab)
These photographs and documents relate to the 1918 Influenza Pandemic, also known as the Spanish Flu. One fifth of the world’s population was infected. The epidemic killed an estimated 50 million people around the world, more than died in World War I. 

Public notice: "Keep your bedroom windows open!" to prevent disease

World War II Foreign Posters (opens in new tab)
Produced by foreign information offices and war relief associations in the United States, these posters cover topics like: children, conservation, employment, victory bonds, black markets, propaganda, recruitment, and sabotage. 

WWII poster of soldier saying "Hours count now...For God's sake, give us more guns!"

Some extra bonus DocsTeach info:

They offer professional development webinars. You can request live webinars (opens in new tab). Topics may include:

Check out a few basic tools:

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Glenn Wiebe is an education and technology consultant with 15 years' experience teaching history and social studies. He is a curriculum consultant for ESSDACK, an educational service center in Hutchinson, Kansas, blogs frequently at History Tech and maintains Social Studies Central, a repository of resources targeted at K-12 educators. Visit to learn more about his speaking and presentation on education technology, innovative instruction and social studies.