In His Steps
When a stranger challenges a congregation to consider what it really means to follow in the steps of Jesus, it certainly has an effect. Over the next year, six people in particular who decided to make that effort to walk in His steps experienced the Christian life as they never had before. This classic was first told by pastor Charles Sheldon over 100 years ago and has had a profound influence worldwide ever since.
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
Unit Study Curriculums are "complete" curriculums based on the unit study approach that are intended to be used over a longer span of time (typically a year or more). They generally have an organized structure or flow and incorporate as many subject areas as possible. Typically, organizational materials and methods are provided along with some instruction for use. Broken into logical segments or "units" of study, they are intended to comprise the core of your curriculum.
What is a "unit study"? Briefly, it's a thematic or topical approach to teaching as opposed to the traditional by-subject approach. Rather than teach each subject separately, a unit study attempts to integrate many or all subject areas into a unified study - usually centered around a particular subject or event. Obviously History (the study of events) and Science (the study of "things") are well-suited to unit studies, and usually form the "core" around which other subjects are integrated. Subjects like Bible, Geography, Government, English (writing), and Reading/Literature, Music, Home Economics, Life Skills, and Art, are usually easy to integrate around a core topics. Remaining subjects (Math, Phonics, Grammar, Spelling) can be integrated to some extent via related activities. Each, however, has its own "system" (progression of skills, mastery of "rules") which must be followed to some degree. Since one of the additional advantages of a unit study curriculum is the ability to use it with students of varying ages and skill levels, these subjects are generally taught apart from the core curriculum. This may be as simple as assigning pages in a grammar or spelling book, or using a separate "program" for Phonics and Math. Unit studies also tend to be more activity-oriented than the traditional approach, a real boon to kinesthetic learners. Advocates of the unit study approach site studies showing that children learn best when learning is unified rather than fragmented and when learning is more participatory than passive.
If you like the unit study approach and you like the American history series by Peter Marshall and David Manuel, you will definitely want to check out this product. Chris Roe, author of study guides to accompany books in the Trailblazer series, has turned her attention to an American history-based unit study for the elementary grades. The America series consists of three books. Land of the Pilgrims' Pride (1492-1789) is based on The Light and the Glory for Children. From Every Mountainside (1787-1837) features From Sea to Shining Sea for Children. Let Freedom Ring (1837-1860) coincides with Sounding Forth the Trumpet for Children. Mrs. Roe selected this Marshall/Manuel series because of its easy-to-read format and its emphasis on our nation's history from a Christian perspective. Each book is an 11-week unit study, so using all three would amount to a school year's worth of study. Besides American history, the unit studies incorporate lessons for reading/vocabulary, Bible, English grammar and writing, science, geography, health, music and art. (As with most unit studies, a separate math curriculum must be used.) In addition to the Marshall/Manuel books, five or six other books are read with each unit study. Most would be available at the library, and we are offering them as well. Required books for grades 3 and 4 are sometimes different than the ones needed for grades 5 and 6. Suggestions for more good reading material are also provided. In addition, Mrs. Roe has included a list of books recommended for 1st and 2nd graders if you are trying to stretch the study to include younger students. Each student must also have a spiral-bound notebook for writing his daily assignments. In English, grammar cards will be made by the student, or purchased separately. Mrs. Roe's personal experience as a homeschool teacher shows through in a couple of ways. Each week's section begins with a supply list of all that you will need that week. As much as possible, common household items have been used, but items that you may need to pick up at the store are listed in bold print. "Notes to the teacher" are sprinkled throughout and are shaded in gray so that you may easily scan for these to ease your preparation for the lessons. Two science lessons begin each week's lessons. These are designed so that you can do science either two or four days per week. The remainder of the week's study is broken down into day-by-day lesson plans. The lesson for each subject is laid out. Therefore, if you like the order that the subjects are listed in, you can go right down the pages for each day's lessons. Lessons include some background information, discussion questions, and activities. Although you can "wing it", you would be well advised to look through the questions and activities beforehand, adding to or modifying as you see fit. The first 10 weeks of each study are laid out in similar fashion, with the 11th week designed for wrap-up discussion and activities. An answer key to the discussion questions and other helpful teaching information is included in the back of the book.