Discover dynamic education programs and curriculum resources about the history of our city, state, and nation.
The Academy for American Democracy
at the New-York Historical Society
“It was the best week, the best time we spent all school year. I left the experience feeling like I was a part of something big. The students did something really significant for the four days.
They are dying to do it again.”
—Pilot Teacher, Wagner Middle School
The New-York Historical Society is proud to announce the Academy for American Democracy, a new educational initiative focusing on history and civics education for the sixth grade students.
Classes in residency will explore our galleries, in person or virtually, and engage in close examination of artifacts, art, and documents to build content knowledge and deepen their understanding of the history of democracy. Through experiential learning, art-making, writing, and theater activities, your students are immersed in a process of creative discovery to help them understand the value of active civic participation.
Distance Learning Residencies
Due to the COVID-19 public health crisis, Academy for American Democracy residencies take place via distance learning as part of our free online learning resources. Distance learning residencies consist of 10 one-hour synchronous sessions.
What do students learn?
“When we got to debate it made the topics feel important, and we learned how to persuade.”
—Pilot Student, Urban Assembly Academy for Future Leaders
Students participating in the Academy for American Democracy seek the answers to three Essential Questions:
- What is a democracy?
- How does a democracy work?
- How do disenfranchised people make change in a democracy?
To answer these questions, students critically examine democracy as it was practiced in ancient Athens, adapted at the United States’ founding, and as generations of people have reshaped it in the centuries since. They analyze primary and secondary sources to consider how and why democracy has changed over time and explore their own roles as civic actors.
How will students benefit from the online Academy?
Students are empowered to ask big questions, think critically, and take an active role in the political world around them. At the end of the residency, participating students create their own digital art project that synthesizes what they have learned. More details on the program curriculum can be found in the brochure here and scheduling details can be found here.
How will teachers benefit?
Teachers are invited to participate in the Academy for American Democracy’s free professional development where they come together with scholars and museum professionals to dive deeply into history, political theory, and engaging online pedagogy. They study how the ideals and realities of democracy played out in ancient Athens, at the founding of the United States, and in American political and social movements across time. They are challenged to craft effective lessons for their specific classrooms that bolster their social studies online curricula. CTLE hours are provided.
Watch our series of educational videos here. These videos illuminate key ideas, topics, and themes in the history of democracy, from its creation in ancient Athens to the founding of the United States and beyond.
What do participants need to contribute?
Thanks to generous support, we are able to provide this $5,500 program free of charge. Participants are responsible for the following:
- At least one certified teacher must be available to help manage the online experience and digital resources, and must be available for a planning session prior to the first class.
- Students need access to Zoom or Google Meet.
- Participating teachers and students must complete all surveys and evaluations within two weeks of the last day of the Academy.
“I learned how important voting is. We have to speak up for ourselves and have our own opinions. We have to think long and hard about them.”
—Pilot Student, New Design Middle School
The Academy for American Democracy supports the New York City Curriculum Standards and Initiatives.
Sixth Grade Social Studies Scope and Sequence:
Civics for All:
How can my school participate?
Fill out an application for Spring 2021 here! The applications will be accepted on a rolling basis. First come, first served!
My child does not attend a traditional school. How can they participate?
Fill out an application for Spring 2021 here! The applications will be accepted on a rolling basis. First come, first served! We will do our best to build cohorts of students with similar scheduling and learning needs, but cannot guarantee flexibility or accommodation.
“In a democracy, the choice you make can affect how you and others live. When you have the option to make a choice, you can’t take it for granted.”
—Pilot Student, Wagner Middle School