Wednesday, June 26, 2013

The Classical Historian ~ Modern American History Curriculum and Ancient History Go Fish Game ~ Review

The Classical Historian provides curriculum, resources, and games that promote critical thinking, thoughtful discussion, and independent learning.  John De Gree is a married father of 7 with over twenty years of experience in teaching History and English.

I was provided with parts of the complete curriculum for Modern American History for Grades 9-12 in exchange for my honest review and opinion.  This is a full one year curriculum and may be used for High School credit.  Yay!  I'll explain what I received, give a brief description, and share my thoughts.

1.  32 Week Modern American History Guide - This is a printed copy of 49 pages that comes stapled at the top.  I would recommend doing 3 whole punch and securing it in a binder to keep it clean and prevent tearing or rapid wear.  This, in my opinion, is a must have for curriculum like this.  This is a lesson by lesson walk through for both teacher and student.  This provides a tutorial of sorts on how to use the curriculum and each day's lesson outlines what needs to be done, along with the time it will take.  You could follow it to a "T", or just use it as a guideline.  Check out a sample HERE.  When purchased separately it is $24.99 and worth every penny, IMHO.

2.  Take a Stand!  Student's Edition and Teacher Key - This is a 93 page soft cover book.  This tool teaches students how to be historians.  It teaches them how to analyze historical events, and not how to memorize dates and facts.  It is a thinking, reading, speaking, and writing guide to history using the method of Socratic discussion.  You will need supporting history texts and documents to use this tool.  Check out a sample HERE.  When purchased separately, the Student Edition only is $18.95  I found this to be an interesting tool and it is valuable to the experience of this curriculum.  I particularly liked the guided outlines and questions that assist the student in notetaking.  There is a fair amount of writing required.  My son is not a confident writer, so this is something we would need to ease into.  We would likely focus more on the verbal discussion as he analyzes the information he is taking in.  When you purchase the complete curriculum, you also receive the 62 page teacher key for this book.  When purchased separately the student and teacher key set is $24.95.

3.  Teaching the Socratic Discussion History DVD Collection - This is a set of 3 DVD's offering 3 hours of run time that come in a hard case and a 77 page spiral bound, soft covered book.  This set teaches the teacher and the student the tools of the historian, the Socratic Discussion, and how to foster critical and independent thinking.  Essentially, it will prepare you to use the curriculum in the most productive way.  If you are not familiar with the Classical method of teaching, this is essential.  Click HERE for many more details about this piece.  When purchased separately it is $79.99 and would be an absolute need for someone like me who is not experienced enough in this method of teaching/learning.

The remaining two items are part of this curriculum, however, I did not receive them.  So, I can't share my personal experience or opinion on them.

4.  A Patriot's History of the United States - This is a 932 page (GULP!) book by Larry Schweikart and Michael Allen.  This serves as the "textbook" for this curriculum.  It focuses on the virtues of our Founding Fathers, in contrast to the revisionist historians.  When purchased separately it is $19.99.  

5.  The Patriot's History Reader - This explores the original documents, speeches, and legal decisions that shaped our country.  When purchased separately it is $12.95.

If you're like me, you are looking for the best deal.  When I do the math here, I come to a total of $162.87 for all of the pieces that are included in the complete curriculum package (if each is purchased separately).  But, the website offers the Complete Curriculum Package with one click for $146.99.  That's almost a $16 savings.  Yahoo!

I see the benefits of this curriculum, especially if you enjoy the Classical method.  The value of learning critical thinking will seep into other areas of learning, especially science and literature.  The Classical Historian would be best suited for a classroom or family with several children.  As they learn together, the skills of discussion and debate will naturally occur.  As a family with one child, this would be limited.  In addition, we have not enjoyed the Classical method in the past.  However, the material in the product I received looks interesting and we are looking forward to exploring it further once we are able to get the final two essential pieces needed, The Patriot's History of the United States and The Patriot's History Reader.

Now, moving on to the game I received....

Ancient History Go Fish Card Game!  This is for ages 5-129.  This game is a Four in One!  Let's look at each game you can play with this 50 card deck.
1.  Go Fish - players match 4 of a kind cards in 12 different categories
2.  Collect the Cards - practice your knowledge of historical facts as you try to guess your opponent's card.
3.  Chronology - race against the clock to beat your own best time or your opponent's as you arrange the cards in chronological order.
4.  Geography - race against the clock to beat your own best time or your opponent's as you arrange the cards in geographical piles by continent.

These cards are high quality, heavy stock.  The larger size makes them easy to handle and the graphics on them are interesting and colorful.  There are lots of visual codes on these to help remember facts.  They can be played in a group, or games 3 and 4 can be done solo. I LOVE that it comes with an answer key for games 3 and 4.  These cards are $11.95.  Check them out HERE

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