Studies in World History Vol. 1
Creation Through the Age of Discovery (4004 BC to AD 1500)/ Student Text and Teachers Guide
Studies in World History Vol 1 for the Jr. High Student was a welcomed and timely review for me. In preparation for my next year of teaching middle school students I was looking for the perfect history curriculum. Actually, I can’t say that I have ever found the “perfect” curriculum in any subject area and this text was no different. I found many pros and a few cons to this text. I hold a two criteria as VERY important in a curriculum: ease of use for student AND teacher, meaty in content but not to over powering, these days short and sweet keeps their attention better as they need to apply information in small chunks rather in long drawn out text forms. The following is my take on it all.
This book is very easy to use as far as curriculum goes. The student has 34 chapter broken into 5 short lessons. This is rare in a curriculum. Usually the history lessons are pages and pages long. I like the concise makeup of the lessons as a student can take the time to read the lesson (more than once if necessary, it’s really that short) and the teacher/parent can elaborate on the information as well. The lessons are prefaced with vocabulary and chapter learning objectives. The vocabulary is “meaty” and definitely challenging enough to be at the middle school level. The lessons have wonderful biblical integration that really draw in the content to biblical history. The lessons were created for 20-30 minute time frames which provides time for discussion and application through creative projects. I love the layout of the lessons/chapters. The content of the text, side note boxes and illustrations (although black and white pictures) really help the lesson come to life.
Another great asset is the teacher’s guide. This book has laid out the entire year’s lesson plans in a calendar form. I love that I do not have to do that myself! It contains weekly exams and answers key and daily discussion questions and answers. This is a huge plus as everything is well-organized.
The vocabulary is wonderful but they are labeled as “Concepts”. This can be confusing in that some students will see them as solely vocabulary if this is not clarified. Some words in this “Concepts” bank are highlighted throughout the lessons and some are not. The also do not seem to be listed in order of appearance within the text itself, both which make it easier on the student to follow a pattern as they learn the information. This is a concern to me because I teach students with learning differences and those types of predictable patterns really help some students focus levels so that they do not become discouraged in getting through the text. Another con is that I found the maps to be a bit confusing. One example is through much comparison I was able to apply the text and another labeled map to a blank map and get the blank map labeled as requested in the discussion question/test question. I have to admit I had to look at the teacher’s guide in order to pinpoint it completely and correctly. I know, without guidance, some of my students would not have made the connection either. I really want the discussion questions, to not be easy but, to create an opportunity for success rather than confusion.
Overall, the text is worth the purchase and use. Like I said there isn’t a “perfect” text/curriculum anywhere-at least not one that I have run across. Dr James Stobaugh put together a wonderful piece here and I look forward to investigating more of his work.
Book review by LG