Brenda Runkle's enthusiasm for geography comes through in her physical geography curriculum. Welcome to the Wonderful World of Geography is made up of a softcover text and teacher's guide (packaged together) and a separate workbook. The text is gorgeous, with nice, thick pages and full-color graphics; a pleasure to have in hand. Layout is superb as well; pleasing to the eye with different features nicely organized in color-coded boxes. There are wide margins on each page containing sidebars. These are coded with small graphics and include definitions of words highlighted in the text; key concepts to remember; tips, hints, or special information about a geographic term; and other interesting, related information. The photographs, maps and graphics are stunning. Everything is crisp and first-class - very pleasing to the eye. More important than all the visual appeal, however, is the course content. The author's style is chatty and engaging (conversational), managing to impart essential geographical concepts while successfully maintaining reader interest. She addresses the text directly to the student, often asking questions and using attention-getting or witty phrasing. This makes the text very interactive, so the student gets more the feel of an instructor-student interchange (much like you would experience in a classroom), rather than a sense of working in isolation. Not only is the text interactive, but there are hands-on activities throughout the text - usually one or two per lesson. These are easily done with supplies on hand or manipulatives within the text. Some are experiments to illustrate a point in the text, some are done to practice skills or further student understanding of presented concepts. These are not "filler" activities or distractions as in some texts; all are done with a purpose and correlate directly to text material. Other nice features are the inclusion of Fun Facts and Focus Boxes which present interesting, related "asides," kind of like a "by the way, did you know....". Additional boxes labeled "Critical Thinking Activity" contain activities which develop map reading skills, use computational skills to solve geography problems, practice reading graphs and charts, and so on. These are helpful activities which both develop geographical skills and demonstrate how the study of physical geography is useful in everyday life. I must say, Brenda Runkle has managed to make the study of physical geography both interesting and solidly educational; an unbeatable combination. There are a total of 44 lessons in the course. The Teacher's Guide for the course contains answers to text questions and vocabulary words for each lesson as well as Chapter Tests with answer key.
A Student Activity Workbook is also available. A good explanation of her method of geography drill is included at the outset, with Mrs. Runkle explaining how to apply the method to each continent. Maps are referred to by number within country, and the maps are similarly labeled for easy location. This helps greatly to round out the mapping and geography portion of the course. The rest of the textual part of the workbook consists of continent by continent plans for implementing the Runkle Mapping Method. Many hints and helps derived from Brenda Runkle's years of teaching geography simplify the memorization and location of countries. Also included are phonetic pronunciations of countries, capitals, rivers, etc. Most appreciated. To get the full benefit from the program, plan on purchasing both pieces at the outset so you can incorporate all the components (daily geography drill and review, mapping activities and physical geography studies) into your course of study.
The package (WWWGPK) contains #004295, Student and Teacher set, and #009426, Student Activity Workbook.