You may use National Archives DocsTeach to supplement the textbook with primary source documents. While the app itself features multiple pre-created activities, the real value lies in the ability to create custom activities for your students. After creating an account at DocsTeach.org, you have the opportunity to select texts to apply to one of the interactive graphic organizers. When you create your own activities, you can also add additional details for students, making it easier for them to understand how to complete the activity, letting them know which details to pay attention to, and providing them with a final analysis of, or takeaway from, the activity. Students then receive a code to allow them to complete the activity using the app.
The option to add discussion questions or short writing prompts to the end of the app allows you to further bring home the meaning of the texts. It also works as a way to quickly monitor student understanding.Continue reading Show less
National Archives DocsTeach brings the online archives and activities to the iPad. Students and teachers can search activities by time period and movement or enter a classroom code to access materials and activities chosen by the teacher. Review of the historical documents is tied to a collection of interactive graphic organizers designed to give students a purpose as they read through the texts. After reading or skimming the texts, students drag and drop text icons into boxes on the interactive graphic organizers. The app uses accurate digital images of historical texts, so many of the texts appear on yellowed paper and feature the original handwriting and formatting. Students have the option to zoom in and out of a text, but texts that are already difficult to read may not be improved by making the images smaller or larger.
After completing a graphic organizer, many activities provide students with a few discussion questions or a short writing prompt. Students are encouraged to respond to the questions and email them to the teacher.
Instead of relying on highly engaging, interactive graphics and sound effects, National Archives DocsTeach takes a simpler approach. Students access history in its original form, through primary source documents, and analyze that history using a series of drag-and-drop graphic organizers. These organizers are focused on the critical-thinking skills that most standards, including the Common Core, require: making connections, evaluating evidence and drawing conclusions, understanding cause and effect, and sequencing events. Unfortunately, many of the activities do not leave room for students to form and defend their own analysis of the materials. Instead, they must come up with the "correct" analysis. With many of the activities, it is also not immediately clear what students are supposed to do with the texts they are given, leaving them to drag and drop the text icons until the app determines they've gotten all the answers correct.
Key Standards Supported
Reading History/Social Studies
Integrate visual information (e.g., in charts, graphs, photographs, videos, or maps) with other information in print and digital texts.
Cite specific textual evidence to support analysis of primary and secondary sources.
Determine the central ideas or information of a primary or secondary source; provide an accurate summary of the source distinct from prior knowledge or opinions.
Integrate quantitative or technical analysis (e.g., charts, research data) with qualitative analysis in print or digital text.
Cite specific textual evidence to support analysis of primary and secondary sources, attending to such features as the date and origin of the information.
Determine the central ideas or information of a primary or secondary source; provide an accurate summary of how key events or ideas develop over the course of the text.
Integrate and evaluate multiple sources of information presented in diverse formats and media (e.g., visually, quantitatively, as well as in words) in order to address a question or solve a problem.
Cite specific textual evidence to support analysis of primary and secondary sources, connecting insights gained from specific details to an understanding of the text as a whole.
Determine the central ideas or information of a primary or secondary source; provide an accurate summary that makes clear the relationships among the key details and ideas.