We are big history buffs in our house and recently Destini and I had the opportunity review Dave Raymond's American History Part I from Roman Roads Media, who publishes Classical curriculum from Christian perspective for homeschoolers.
Dave Raymond's American History is a history curriculum for kids 12 and up to be used for middle school and lower high school grades. This curriculum is built around video lectures, reading of original documents, note taking, exams, making a portfolio, and projects. It is a story driven curriculum while focusing on moral philosophy. It examines characters, events, theology, and more through the lens of a Christian worldview.
Dave Raymond's American History Part I includes 13 lessons (1 semester) and covers from Meso-American to the Constitution. The student is expected to do one lesson per week. Lessons included in Part I are:
- The Early Explorers
- The Colonies
- The Reformational Colonies
- The Puritans
- Wars of Control
- The Great Awakening
- Adams, Franklin, Witherspoon, and Henry
- The Declaration of Independence
- The War of Independence I
- The War of Independence II
- The Constitution
The Teacher's Guide include helpful tips to help implement the curriculum, the portfolio, and the projects. Also included are handy grading guides for the exams, readings, portfolio, and projects. Last but not least is the exam answer key and an additional reading list. The Student Reader includes all the assignments for each lessons, which include original documents, readings from the Bible, questions, essays, and the exams.
I used this with Destini, who is going into 8th grade. Now I will confess she was not very happy about it, especially after she went through the Orientation lessons the first week, but when she got into the actual lessons she ended up really liking it. Her favorite part was the video lectures. She really enjoyed Dave Raymond's teaching along with the pictures interspersed throughout the lectures. She appreciated the fact that through out the lectures important words were shown on the screen to help with spelling. She took copious notes and spent a lot of time offering up voluntary oral narrations to whomever was willing to listen.
While she did enjoy the readings, it was hard for her to remember to do them. I had loaded the Student Reader on our Kindle, but "out of sight, out of mind" really came into play. She did mention that reference to the reading at the end of the lecture would have helped her to remember.
Her least favorite part was the projects and the portfolio. Since Dave Raymond puts a lot of emphasis on making the portfolio and the map project was something the student should be "proud to show people" brought her stress level way up. I was able to get some nice portfolio pages out of her, but we ran into problems when she went to start the map project. Though she wasn't very keen on doing it she did attempt to do it. We both spent time searching the Internet and looking through books from the library and couldn't find a map. A map resource list would have been handy for non-project people like us.
When my son did American History a few years ago, I noticed that he didn't find it as interesting as his previous history he had done. I resolved to find a new American History program for Destini when she got into high school. I believe I have found it and will probably use it with her when she is in 9th or 10th grade.
I am a big proponent of Charlotte Mason's use of "living books" and narration and even though this isn't a book, the lectures definitely had the feeling of bringing history to life, which is what I want for a history program. I like the use of original source documents and that the assignments and quiz questions could easily be implemented in oral or written narrations. I will probably adjust the projects and the portfolio so that they still challenge her without stressing her out.
Dave Raymond's American History Part I is a great option for American history homeschool curriculum. Part I comes as 4 DVDs which include video lessons, Student Reader, and Teacher's Guide. It is available from Roman Roads Media right now for $75.00
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