Using the National Archives in your classroom

Today I got a very exciting email from NARA, the National Archives and Records Association, who released for iPad a set of fantastic teaching guides centered around their digital archives.  The tool is called TeachDocs, and by using it teachers can find ready-made lesson plans that place photos and documents from the National Archives collection into a historical context. Teachers can also create their own lesson plans using the TeachDocs software; they then choose which primary sources to insert and write their own accompanying script. The software is powerful and NARA’s instructions are very thorough.  Teachers will want to sit and play with the software a few times to figure out how to best fine-tune it to their own lesson plans–or, if feeling a bit less ambitious, they can simply use the extensive lesson plans already on the site.  Using our National Archives in the classroom is an excellent way to teach students about primary source material and to create a hands-on atmosphere without leaving the classroom.

Here is what the main page looks like:

And here, below, is the letter from NARA, complete with links to the site.  Enjoy!

Dear Colleagues,

We are excited to tell you that the National Archives has just released the DocsTeach App for iPad!

The DocsTeach App extends the dynamic learning activities from the website to students on their iPads, and is available for free from the App Store on iPad, or online.

We hope you are familiar with, the National Archives’ award-winning online tool for teaching with documents, that features thousands of primary sources and learning activities. When registered for a free account, you can borrow from and modify an ever-expanding collection of activities, plus use the online tools to create your own.

Using the DocsTeach App on their iPads, your students can access and complete activities that you have found or created for them, or simply choose an activity from a menu of historical topics.
To share your favorite DocsTeach activities with your students:

1) Go to on your computer. Log in to your existing or newly created DocsTeach account.

2) Create or locate a Classroom in your account with the activities you found or created for your students; make note of the Classroom Code.

3) Download the DocsTeach App onto your students’ iPads. A WiFi connection is recommended for using the app.

4) Instruct your students to open the DocsTeach App and type in your Classroom Code. They will see and complete the activities you selected and created especially for them on their iPads.

To learn how to create Classrooms on, see our video tutorial.

Find more video tutorials in our full DocsTeach playlist.

The DocsTeach web site and app were created in partnership with the Foundation for the National Archives, and were designed and developed by Second Story Interactive Studios.

DocsTeach is generously supported in part by Texas Instruments.

The National Archives Education Team »