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Today’s Document: History through cartoons

What it is: Today’s Document is an awesome daily history site that I learned about from the Instructify blog written by Bill Ferris.  Today’s Document is based on the RSS feed from the National Archives. Jon White takes these daily documents from history and turns them into cartoons that illustrate the history.  Cartoons and drawings offer such an incredible and striking visual to accompany history.  They help flesh out what was happening and give students a way to connect to and characterize history.

How to integrate Today’s Document into your curriculum: This is, simply stated, an AWESOME site.  I have mentioned before that history was not my strength in school.  I struggled with finding the story in history.  For me it was a lot of facts, dates, names, and places that I couldn’t seem to get a handle on.  A site like Today’s Document would have done wonders for my understanding of history.  The visuals clearly connect the facts with a larger story.  Even better, White publishes the story behind each cartoon along side it.  Today’s Document makes an incredible e-textbook complete with daily updates, links to videos, articles, primary sources, and additional opportunities to learn more about each topic.  Today’s Document would make a fantastic discussion starter in any classroom.  It’s natural fit would be in the history or civics class but could really be used in many disciplines including literature, writing, and even science.  Because Today’s Document uses cartoons to tell history, the site can be used with a wide range of age groups.  Even young students can look at the cartoons and follow the story each day.  Each drawing is linked to the original primary source document on National Archives with an invitation to dig deeper.  Within the preamble describing the cartoon, White often includes links to outside videos and articles that reinforce the daily document.

Tips: I encourage you to take a look at White’s previous cartoons, you can do so by using the “previous” button or searching the archives by date.  He started this project in January 2010.

Please leave a comment and share how you are using Today’s Document in your classroom!

Founder of Anastasis Academy, The Learning Genome Project, 5Sigma Education Conference, tech integration specialist, instructional coach, writer, dreamer.

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  1. Although probably not that useful for Australian schools due to its US content, it is a wonderful idea (some students study some US history in year 11 and 12, so could even be good for them.)

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