Wednesday, April 24, 2013

E is for... Exploring America

I've probably mentioned one of my favorite resources for high school history many times, but I don't think I've gone into any detail about it (although I did talk about the publisher in N is for Notgrass). That resource is the text Exploring America from Notgrass. Exploring America is a high school level curriculum that combines US History, American Literature, and Bible teaching into one course that allows a student to earn up to three full credits.

The textbook is in two parts and has a total of 30 units with five lessons in each unit. There is a history lesson to read each of the five days, with the fifth being a lesson in Biblical worldview relating to the historical events covered. There is also a book of essays, speeches, hymns, poetry, and more titled American Voices and this contains all the assigned reading necessary other than the novels. There are suggested writing assignments for each unit as well.
E is for Exploring America (Notgrass high school curriculum) - Homeschool Coffee Break @
The history of the United States, from early exploration and settlement up to the year 2006, is presented  in a clear and balanced manner, but from a perspective of Christian faith. The readings assigned in American Voices include the Mayflower Compact; writings from Thomas Paine, James Madison, Frederick Douglass, ; sermons and speeches from Jonathan Edwards, Patrick Henry, Booker T Washington, and Martin Luther King Jr; hymns and poems by American writers; and speeches and inaugural addresses from several Presidents.

In addition, there are a total of thirteen novels assigned during the course, and usually they are to be read during two units, so the student has about two weeks to read each one.
These are the novels studied in the course. I have bolded the ones we used.
The Scarlet Letter (Nathaniel Hawthorne); 
Narrative of the Life of David Crockett (David Crockett); 
Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass (Frederick Douglass); 
Uncle Tom's Cabin (Harriet Beecher Stowe); 
Co. Aytch (Sam Watkins); 
Little Women (Louisa May Alcott);
Humorous Stories and Sketches (Mark Twain); 
Up From Slavery (Booker T Washington);
In His Steps (Charles Sheldon);
Mama's Bank Account (Kathryn Forbes);
Christy (Catherine Marshall);
To Kill A Mockingbird (Harper Lee); 
The Giver (Lois Lowry)
We had previously read Little Women and the boys considered that and Christy to be "girl books" so I didn't have them read those over again. One of the boys had read In His Steps in a previous school year so we didn't do that. Mama's Bank Account was the only book on the list that I couldn't find at the library and wasn't familiar with myself, so we skipped it completely. Other than that one and The Giver, I already owned all the books or had read them myself so I was perfectly willing to purchase them. Notgrass also sells a package of the novels for those who would prefer to acquire them that way.

We chose to get the optional Quiz and Exam Book to go with Exploring America. This has a set of comprehension questions to complete at the end of each lesson, and a set of questions about each novel, as well as quizzes for the end of each unit and midterm and final exams.
E is for Exploring America (Notgrass high school curriculum) - Homeschool Coffee Break @
This really is a open and go curriculum and doesn't require extra lesson planning and scheduling from the teacher. The textbook instructs the student what to read and what the assignments are, so if you want to use it exactly as is, you have everything you need to complete those three credits. And the student would spend around 2 to 3 hours on the course each day.

As easy as the curriculum is to use, we adjusted a little bit for a couple of reasons. My boys were doing separate English Grammar and Composition courses, and neither of them enjoyed writing, so instead of doing all the writing assignments in Exploring America, we chose some of them as the subjects for essays assigned in their other course. Also, neither of them were interested in reading all the novels, so we chose about half of the novels to complete. Since they read all the selections in American Voices, and read about half the novels and answered comprehension questions about those, I awarded a half credit in American Literature for the course. They did all the history and Bible coursework so they earned full credits in American History and Bible: Issues in American Christianity.

You can find out more about the curriculum and see sample pages at the Notgrass website. I've also used Exploring World History and this year we used the newer middle school history course, America the Beautiful (I talked about it in A is for American History). I haven't yet tried the high school government and economics courses, but I'm very interested! And by the way, Ray and Charlene Notgrass are the nicest people too - if you visit a homeschool curriculum fair this season and they are there, be sure to stop by and look at their products and chat with them if you can.

Please visit Ben and Me: F is for Friends, Fun,... to join in and to see what thoughts this week's letter has prompted for other bloggers. (I'm a letter behind! I hope to get caught up by the end of the week!)

To find out more about the Blogging through the Alphabet link-up, and how to participate, visit Ben and Me: Blogging Through The Alphabet

This post will also be included in the Curriculum Choices Round-up at the Schoolhouse Review Crew blog.

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