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Idea of America

Debate keeps America vibrant.
Debate over what course America should take.
Debate over our shared, democratic values.
Debate over the extent that our shared values influence public policy—and in which direction

At its heart, America is an idea. What keeps this idea vibrant? Debate. The Idea of America is a digital U.S. history program that presents our nation’s rich history through an original framework that views America as an enduring “Great Debate.”

Far from being a sign that our democratic republic is failing, this raucous, controversial, enduring debate—this Great Debate—indicates our republic is healthy.

Americans continually seek, in the words of the Preamble to the Constitution, “to form a more perfect union.” Not everyone agrees on how best to do that—and that’s where civic and civil debate comes in. Americans have debated what course the nation should take since before there was a nation.

Where do you stand? Take our American Values Quiz and find out.


Digital Curriculum

Screenshot of The Idea of America ProgramThe Idea of America™ is a standards-based, supplemental program you can integrate with your current history curriculum. It comprises 65 case studies—using multimedia and interactive elements—that make primary-source content relevant to today's learners and encourage active citizenship.

The Idea of America™ offers high school and adult students:

  • Digital content that engages the 21st-century learner and dynamically combines printed text, video, audio, games, simulations, and primary sources
  • An intuitive pedagogical model that fosters critical thinking, debate, and speaking and writing skills
  • Compatibility with common technology platforms, from tablets to interactive whiteboards
  • A flexible platform that can be used either as a 1:1 program or in teacher-led presentation style
  • 65 case studies that span American history from pre-contact to the modern day, are fully searchable, and can be sorted by topic or era

Fully Supported Teaching Resources

From Teacher Roadmaps to assessments to fully-supported professional development, this program supports a seamless integration with any social studies or civics curriculum.

  • Teacher Roadmaps: detailed strategies for each activity, including support for struggling learners, adaptations for advanced learners, and extension ideas
  • Assessments: a short standards-based quiz for each activity, plus graphic organizers, worksheets, and note-takers for many activities
  • LTI Compatible: seamless access for your students when paired with any LTI-enabled Learning Management System
  • Professional Development: in-person or online options available through Colonial Williamsburg

Case studies span American history and include:

The Great Debate The Civil War and Reconstruction Cold War
Colonial America The Industrialized Nation Modern Politics
The American Revolution Growth and Expansion The Civil Rights Era
The Early National Period The Great War and the 1920s Into the 21st Century
Growing Democracy The Age of FDR  

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