Monday, May 6, 2013

How to Make a Unit Study Last All Year {Blog Every Day in May}

The title makes it sound like I am either totally awesome at planning ahead - or that I can drag something out to last much longer than it was intended to. Neither is strictly true.

I'm actually being quite intentional in stretching the 180 days of Around the World in 180 Days to a grand total of approximately 540 days!

We previously took an entire school year (180 days or so) to cover Africa, Australia and Asia. Then we took the next entire school year (another 180, give or take, to bring our total to about 360 days) to study Europe. After all, there is a lot of history to cover there, and we were able to spend extra time on the Ancient Greeks, Ancient Romans, Vikings, and the Middle Ages. This year was a break from Around the World in 180 Days while we studied US History. Next school year we will wrap up ATW by looking at the Americas. A third round of 180 days, for a grand total of about 540 days!

Pulling together a plan when I'm combining materials from several sources to make up my own course outline like this takes a few more steps, but it's not hard. Basically I start with my school calendar so I know roughly where the breaks for holidays will fall. There will be lots to add to Around the World in 180 Days. I'll start with the outline of study right from the book, which covers four general areas for each continent: Geography, History, Religion, and Culture. The book has a section on South America and on North America, but I will handle Central America separately. This should give me three units, and we can plan on spending about 11 weeks on each. Since we are finishing up a detailed study of the United States this year, I will not spend much time with the USA in our study of North America, but will want to cover Canada's geography and history in more detail. Looking at the information I'll want to cover, I'll try to figure out how to spread it out over 32-36 weeks. We generally will work on history lessons five days a week. I've found it hard to separate culture and religion from the study of history, so what will probably work is about one or two weeks spent on the geography of each continent, and 8-10 weeks spent on all the rest.

Next I'll plug in the major topics that we'll focus on and put more detail into the outline. For instance, we will definitely want to study the cultures of the Incas, Aztecs, and Mayans, and I'll have other materials to draw from so each of those will wind up as a short unit study. When we study Canada, some of the highlights will include the National Parks and the railroads. I will note some of the other resources we'll use - I have a couple of online unit studies, the book Geography Through Art, international cookbooks, and a history encyclopedia, among the things that I know we'll use. Once the outline has been completed, with the important topics noted, I can fine tune a little bit more to spread out the entire study over the school year and establish a few deadlines. Maybe I'll decide we want to be finished South America by the time Christmas break rolls around.

Holidays of the World Cookbook for Students: Updated and Revised    
One thing I do differently with the Homeschool Tracker when I make up lesson plans like this, is that instead of detailed daily assignments, I will enter broader units in the Lesson Plan section, and then break down the details as we work through the assignments.

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Sara said...

Good post. I was wondering what this resource was like and your info helped. Thanks!

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