I’ve always been a fan of the National Archives site. They’ve got tons of great lessons, resources and documents just for teachers. They’ve also done a great job in the last few years of connecting their content us.
One of my favorites is their site called Today’s Document from the National Archives. Every day, a primary source from their collection is posted along with some quick commentary and explanation. Each document is specific to that day. For example, today’s document is a photograph of soldiers hugging an English grandmother on May 7, 1945 following the announcement that German surrender documents had been signed. Yesterday’s document was the May 6, 1892 Chinese Exclusion Act and tomorrow’s is a photo of President Truman announcing VE Day.
Each day’s document comes with a Read More section that provides additional background, a section of Classroom Resources which always includes a lesson plan and a section of Research Links that provide access to more documents. So today you can find a transcript of the German surrender, related World War II lesson plans, access to NARA WWII photos and other related historical documents.
The site also has a RSS feed so it’s easy to subscribe to Today’s Document and have it show up everyday in your reader. You can search the Today’s Document site for specific topics by clicking the search box at the top right corner of the page and selecting “Search Current Section Only.”
You can use Today’s Document as a “This Day in History” bell ringer activity or as a hook activity to your current unit. The daily document is also a great way to connect documents with current events. (Free Technology for Teachers suggests using the Chinese Exclusion Act as a lead-in to a conversation about the current Arizona immigration controversy.) You might assign students the task of summarizing the day’s document and finding connections to current events as an exit card activity. Use the daily document to practice photo or document analysis skills. And I’m sure each of you will find a specific way of using the resource that works best for you.