Monday, June 20, 2011

History Revealed: Romans, Reformers, and Revolutionaries Part 2- The Review

This is Part 2 in a two part review.  If you haven't yet read the intro, please click HERE.






History Revealed is a biblical world history program by Diana Waring.  The heart and soul of this study is the combination of viewing God as central to our understanding of history and viewing our students as individuals created by God with different strengths and styles of learning.  The Introduction portion of the Teacher's Guide is vital to understanding the foundation of the curriculum.  Here Waring states that "rather than a ho-hum approach to life and learning, He (God) created us to be passionately involved... Recognizing that we cannot crawl inside the student's mind and heart, throw a switch, and create a passion for learning, how on earth do we get students involved in the process? How do we help them move beyond spectator to active player?... We must work with the design of God."

She then shares basic information on four learning styles (how a personality style best learns), three learning modalities (the approach they take in learning new information), and eight intelligences (natural potential/areas of talent), upon which this curriculum is based.  While this may appear to be a traditional program on the surface, it is anything but.  It is set up in Units, each containing four phases which are designed to be about a week each. Phase One is the introductory week, where the student will read the text and listen to selections from the audio CD's of What in the World's Going On Here? and/or Digging Deeper.  Phases Two through Three consists of various projects from which the student can choose and complete on their own or with a group, these are designed to allow the student to learn and then present what he has learned using his strengths and passions.

Here is a break down of the four phases:

  1. Introductory Week
    • Informally Discuss Key Concepts
    • Read Article
    • Listen to Audio Recordings
    • Read the Scriptures
    • Recap the Material with Activity
    • Talk Together
    • Choose Books of Interest/Internet Search
    • Review & Evaluation
  2. Exploration and Discovery Week
    • Choose a Topic and Begin Research
    • Construct the Timeline
    • Practice Vocabulary
    • Complete Research Project
    • Review & Evaluation
  3. Hands-On Week
    • Create a Map
    • Examine and Discuss Art & Architecture
    • Art Project
    • Science Project or Field Trip
    • Listen to and Discuss Music
    • Cook
    • Review & Evaluation
  4. Expression Week
    • Choose an Area of Expression
      • Linguistics
      • Art
      • Music
      • Drama
      • Movement
      • Conceptual Design
    • Share Creative Expression
    • Review & Evaluation 

There is a lot of freedom in this curriculum and that will not appeal to everyone.  Some people prefer to have everything lined up for them but personally, I loved having choices and so did my children.  They enjoyed being able to choose between various creative methods of learning and presenting their learning and this is what makes this program such a great fit for our family.

Now I must admit that I messed up on Phase Two.  I had read the Teacher's Guide previously but for some reason that morning I picked up the student book, read the list of available topics, had them choose a topic, and then assigned them a report.  It wasn't until the end of the week that I realized that rather than a report, one would have been imagining she was an escapee from Pompeii after the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius and writing her thoughts about what had happened and how that had affected her life.  Another would have been creating a chart of Ptolemy's work and listing his accomplishments along with the date they were no longer accepted.  And the other would have been creating an advertising campaign to entice the upper class Romans to move to Constantinople.  This is much more exciting than a boring old report!

Another aspect of this curriculum that I love is that, although hands-on and creative, it doesn't require a lot from me.  I don't have to build a giant ear for the kids to crawl through, I don't have to purchase expensive supplies (just the normal school/art/cooking supplies for the most part), and I don't have to hold their hands through every phase.  We spent the first week learning together and then they spent the next three learning on their own and then presenting it to me. I love that.

What I didn't love came in the very first week.  Though the curriculum is listed as being designed for grades 5-12, the text is written at a high school level.  I was concerned that the younger ones would have difficulty fully comprehending the book and so I read it aloud.  This was actually wonderful and I will probably continue reading this section aloud.  What I discovered was that the text I had been concerned would be dry was actually quite interesting.  I also found that when I read it aloud, the kids could understand more in the context of the reading and were able to stop me and ask for further explanation where needed.

My other issue was that there is a lot of audio assigned in the first week.  As few of us are auditory learners, this was a problem.  We tried playing the CD in the car and this worked much better for us and we had great discussions, as we were able to concentrate and comprehend.  I can't take long drives every day the first week of every month, so I think I may extend Week One into two, or at least a week and a half.  This will help us to enjoy the first week of learning, rather than it being an information dump.  As I find I always need to tweak every program to better suit us, this is not a deterrent from using the product.

I'm excited to have found a great history curriculum for our family, and I'm thrilled to have the chance to share this revamped program with you and help get the word out!  If you'd like to check it out for yourself (and see the other time periods offered as well), you can find more information HEREThe full package is available for $91.95, or you can purchase items individually.  However, you will need both the student and teacher's guides as well as the CD's, so the package deal is excellent.  There is also an Elementary supplement ($12.95) that I didn't even have the chance to talk about.  This was a great way to include my 3rd grader!  He participated with us as was appropriate and then he would work in his own book, with age appropriate text, crossword puzzles, word searches, games, etc.  He really enjoyed this and I'd highly recommend picking it up if you want to include younger students.




*Disclosure: I received this product at no cost, for review purposes.  A positive review was not required, only an honest one.  All opinions are my own.*






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