Bill of Rights Institute, OpenStax offer first free, digital U.S. history textbook aligned with AP standards

Conversations about the rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness are never more prominent than during times of national crisis. To continue to help high school students tackle these questions during this tumultuous year, the Bill of Rights Institute and OpenStax have launched Life, Liberty, & the Pursuit of Happiness, a new digital textbook that will be available online and free to all teachers, school districts, and high school, dual-enrolled, and early college students.

Life, Liberty, & the Pursuit of Happiness is a different kind of history textbook. With narrative and compelling stories, it invites students to investigate the text as a secondary source. And, unlike a traditional textbook, it was written, edited, and reviewed by distinguished scholars from nearly 100 universities and historical organizations, including Yale, Stanford, Princeton, Oxford, Cambridge, and the University of California-Berkeley. The diverse list of contributors and narratives means each component of the text presents an opportunity for students to learn, ask questions, and deepen their critical thinking skills.

The book will be available in OpenStax Tutor, OpenStax’s interactive reading and homework system. OpenStax Tutor offers personalized questions to every student and offers real-time feedback and suggestions. Teachers also will be able to track students’ progress in real time, interact with students individually, and customize materials in a way that allows them to build an experience that makes sense for their classroom.

Life, Liberty, & the Pursuit of Happiness will be the first entirely free U.S. history resource to align with the College Board’s Advanced Placement standards. Each unit is divided into chapters that include review and stimulus-based multiple choice questions. The textbook also will come with supplementary materials that will be fully adaptable and customizable to the needs of individual students and classrooms. Teachers can choose the appropriate assignments and assessments that fit their classroom and pacing, and can review student and class learning metrics in real time. Students can track their own progress, allowing them to take ownership of their own learning.

Experienced teachers piloted and helped create the content and assessments included in Life, Liberty, & the Pursuit of Happiness. Educators who were able to try out the tool prior to launch noted its ease of use, comprehensive lists of primary and secondary sources, and incorporation of arguments and counter-arguments. A teacher in Arizona said the resource “provides all the supplemental resources I could wish for as a teacher.” Regarding the cost (or lack of it), a teacher from Uniontown, Penn. said he could not “believe it is free since it is better organized than textbooks that cost $200.” Another in South Carolina simply said, “I want it.”

Charles Koch is one of the founders of the Bill of Rights Institute. Educators can get updates about the project here. Non-educators can find updates here. Click here to learn more about OpenStax’s efforts to bring other learning resources online.

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