Elements of Style / Strunk and White
Too often, English teachers make the English language more complicated than it needs to be. Not so with the late Prof. William Strunk Jr., who originally authored this work to use with his classes at Cornell University in the early 1900's. Although the original 43-page digest has "swelled" to a whopping 85 pages, the essence of the book remains a strong case for cleanliness, accuracy, and brevity. Think of this as a concise rulebook for English. Rules are given, followed by examples of improper and proper usage. If you could only have one book on language usage, this should be it.
While not uncommon for high school students to study both American History and American Literature in the same year (typically 11th grade), it is unusual to find a curriculum that weaves the two together. Exploring America goes one step further, not only combining history and literature, but also Bible/Faith. The result is a comprehensive, intensely Christian look at the events, the people, the culture, and the faith of our nation with an emphasis on a God-centered worldview. A student completing the course as outlined would earn three high school credits history, English (literature and composition), and Bible. Obviously designed with the homeschool student/family in mind, the two volumes (each about 400 pgs.) that make up the curriculum text are very readable and interesting, with carefully chosen illustrations. The text is written directly to the student with lessons clearly laid out and easy to follow. Volume 1 covers Columbus to Reconstruction; Volume 2, the late 1800's to the Present. These two volumes plus a resource book American Voices are included in the Curriculum Package. American Voices is a collection of speeches, poetry, and writings from original sources that are used in the course in addition to the literature selections. The literature selections (a whole book approach) have been carefully chosen. The author, Ray Notgrass, states clearly that the perspective of faith influenced the literature selections and that the goal was well-written redemptive literature. Accordingly, some typical American Lit reads are omitted. In addition to selections from American Voices, the following books are studied: The Scarlet Letter, Narrative of the Life of David Crockett, Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, Uncle Tom's Cabin, Co. Aytch (Civil War diary of Sam Watkins), Little Women, Humorous Stories and Sketches, Up from Slavery, In His Steps, Mama's Bank Account, Miracle on the Hills, To Kill a Mockingbird, and The Giver.
There are 30 weekly units, each with five lessons. Each unit begins by listing the lessons and memory verse(s) along with the books used and suggested writing assignments (typically 2-3 assignments; each 1-2 pgs. long; student chooses one) for each unit. Each fifth lesson is a Bible/worldview lesson. Each lesson includes a related scripture reference and each unit includes a timeline of world events.
The Curriculum Package includes the two text manuals (Parts 1 & 2) plus American Voices.
The Student Review Pack is optional and contains three pieces: The Student Review Book, Quiz and Exam Book and Answer Key.
The Student Review Book features lesson review questions, literature review questions, Bible commentary and literary analysis. The set of review questions from the text as well as the American Voices assignments for each lesson can be answered either orally or on paper. The Bible commentary is to aid the student in profiting from the Bible reading and study. Also included in the student review book are literary analysis segments and questions for each book selection. The Quiz and Exam book is just that - quizzes (for each unit) and six exams. The Answer Key has answers to all review and literary analysis questions, quizzes and exams.
This is an excellent course for the serious student who wants to study both American history and American literature from the perspective of God's Word and Sovereignty. ~ Janice
An updated edition of a much-loved curriculum should offer significant improvements, and this 2014 edition of Exploring World History does not disappoint. The impressive color and extended global coverage along with more options for a variety of learning styles are welcome. I'm thankful they've kept all the features that make this curriculum user-friendly and enjoyable while adding just a few more like the student review book. I think you'll agree the overall package is a win-win.
Studying world history alongside world literature has always made sense to me. Evidently it makes sense to the Notgrass family as well, because they've developed a well-organized curriculum that integrates these two subjects and adds a solid Bible component. The result is a three-credit [World History, English (world literature and composition), and Bible in World History] high school level course that is strong in user-friendly features. Functioning either as an independent study course or a discussion-based study, the written-to-the-student texts allow for as much or as little involvement as parents choose (or are able) to give. There is a permeating emphasis on Bible and Christian history that provides a refreshing contrast to some studies of world history where the Christian is left with the impression that the Bible is not a historical document and Christians are culturally irrelevant. The father/author, Ray Notgrass, assures us that there is no denominational bias.
The thirty weekly units each provide five lessons and cover history from creation to the present in two full-color hardcover texts (about 450 pgs each). These are Part 1 Creation through the Middle Ages, and Part 2 The Renaissance to the Present. Concentrating one day a week on spiritual applications, one lesson in each unit is a Bible study, but sometimes an entire unit focuses on a biblical time period (i.e. Unit #5 God Chooses Israel). The units are organized with a consistent pattern that starts with an introduction to the unit a brief overview, a list of books needed, the project choices, and an introduction to the book(s) to be read. Several types of lessons are incorporated into the units historical overviews, key events, key concepts, key people, surveys of daily life and culture in addition to the Bible study lesson mentioned previously. Each day the student is expected to complete the assignments from the highly-readable Text and In Their Words, read a Bible passage, work on writing assignments or projects, complete literature assignments, and complete the optional Student Review. The "key" lessons seem a particularly effective way of compacting an in-depth historical understanding into a course that by its very nature (a one-year study) must be somewhat superficial. To get an idea of how this is accomplished, let's take a look at Unit #10 Roman Civilization. Unit lessons: (#46) The Rise and Fall of Rome; (#47) Key Person: Augustus Caesar; (#48) Key Concept: Roman Law; (#49) Everyday Life in Rome; and (#50) Bible Study: The Kingdom of God (contrasting with the Roman Empire). Books used in this unit are the Bible, selections from In Their Words (more about this later), and Julius Caesar by William Shakespeare. Choices for a unit project include an essay (choice of why Rome achieved success or a news article on the death of Julius Caesar), a short play (set in ancient Rome), or creating a model of a Roman structure. Included at some point within each unit is a timeline (What Was Happening in the World?). The author suggests that most students will be able to successfully complete the course work in three hours per day.
The Curriculum Package includes the two text manuals plus In Their Words , a 370-page (much expanded from the last edition) compilation of original documents, poetry, stories, literature excerpts, and hymns from all over the world. These selections are continually used as reading assignments accompanying the lessons. The collection is impressive and completely indexed according to author,
These materials are resources for the teacher or student, offering instruction and ideas for teaching children to write but not providing "in-book" assignments/practice.