Integrating into the Classroom

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By Lee Ann Potter

Reprinted from "Teaching With Documents: Our" Social Education 66(7), (2002): pp. 390-399 © National Council for the Social Studies.

"Our founders believed that the study of history and citizenship should be at the core of every American's education; yet today our children have large and disturbing gaps in their knowledge of history."
—President George W. Bush, September 17, 2002

"OUR DOCUMENTS: A National Initiative on American History, Civics, and Service" seeks to fill the gaps that President Bush referred to in his 2002 Constitution Day remarks. The project revolves around one hundred milestone documents drawn primarily from the holdings of the National Archives—from the thousands of public laws, Supreme Court decisions, inaugural speeches, treaties, constitutional amendments, and other documents that have influenced the course of U.S. history. Educators and students can participate in this initiative in a number of ways, including integrating the documents into classroom instruction and participating in national competitions.

Integrating the Documents into Classroom Instruction
As a starting point, educators are encouraged to visit, view the high-resolution images of the milestone documents, read the transcriptions and brief explanations, share and discuss the documents with students, and develop instructional activities that focus on the documents.

Although each of the one hundred documents can serve as a powerful teaching tool, one teaching method may be more effective with a particular document than another. The following fifteen teaching suggestions may be helpful for introducing the milestone documents (and other primary source documents) to students.

Lee Ann Potter is the head of Education and Volunteer Programs at the National Archives and Records Administration, Washington, D.C. She serves as the editor for "Teaching with Documents," a regular department of Social Education. You may reproduce the document shown here in any quantity.

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participate in national competitions
Students and Teachers: Make History Come Alive in the National History Day Competition!
check it out