Words That Made America

The “words that made America” are found in the writings, speeches, poems, diaries, and even the scribblings of the American people as they struggled to define and shape a nation living up to the potential embodied in its core ideals of freedom, equality, and democracy. Those words were expressed not only by political, economic, and cultural leaders but by ordinary people as they went about their everyday lives. They were not only written on paper, but were captured on film, on tape, in oral tradition, and in the recollections of others. Study of these sources and exploration of what they reveal about the country we live in lie at the core of the Words That Made America (WTMA) program, a professional development project for teachers of American History.

Many activities of WTMA are open to all teachers at elementary, middle, and high schools in Alameda County, California. They are set up so that teachers can attend individual sessions or, ideally, entire series that comprise a coherent whole. The exception is the Lesson Study Design Team (LSDT) program, which is limited to those willing to make a strong commitment of time and work— in return for which they will receive correspondingly rich rewards in terms of learning, professional and leadership development, stipends, and classroom resources.