I have used (and loved) a number of products put out by Compass Classroom. Visual Latin, an online Greek course, Economics for Everybody. So the chance to try out (and give away!) the American History course they produce was something I simply could not pass up.
First note to make: this review includes regular links to the program. I am, however, an affiliate and I would dearly love to make a bit of money if you are purchasing anything from them. There is an ad over on the right sidebar. If you click through there, you are helping me to do that. But I just don't like to place affiliate links IN my reviews. So back to the review...
Dave Raymond's American History: Part 1 is an interesting combination of engaging, entertaining video, reading assignments that include original source documents, weekly exams, a portfolio/journal created by the student over the course of the year, and other projects.
The program is coming from a Christian point of view, and a very Providential one at that.
There are thirteen lessons in the first semester (which is available now), and there will be another thirteen lessons in the second semester (which is set to release this fall). Each lesson is intended to be worked in a week. The first semester covers the continent before European exploration, up through the Constitution. The second semester will pick up with George Washington, and end with Theodore Roosevelt and Booker T. Washington.
Each week, the student has five (sometimes more) video segments to watch, with most of those being about 10 minutes in length. There are also daily reading assignments, which are usually fairly short, and a weekly quiz. In addition, they are to add to their journal each week, and there are some other assignments that include maps, great speeches, and more.
My 8th and 10th graders started working on this together. One thing I truly love is that when you purchase the downloadable version, you have some choices about the version. We went for the iPad-friendly option. So the kids can watch their lessons on the iPad, and also click over to do the reading right there too. Very little printing on my part. Viewing the lessons on a computer is easy-peasy too.
Dave Raymond is quite personable, and both my boys really enjoyed his presentation style. You can catch a bit of that here:
Though this is a trailer, so it isn't quite like watching a real lesson.
The materials suggest that this program is great for upper middle school and younger high school grades, and based on our experiences, we agree. William (end of 8th grade) has really enjoyed the course so far, and most definitely wants to continue. He is also my dyslexic one, so the video format appeals to him, and the fairly short readings are a huge plus.
The journal is something he likes as well. He tends to be more visual with that, choosing to put in maps, charts, and images -- and only a sentence or two of words. All around, a great fit for him.
Connor (end of 10th grade) enjoys it, but he keeps asking for more. "There isn't enough detail about..." is a common complaint from him, though in the next breath he'll tell me that he appreciates that he isn't just being given a bunch of facts, but that "Mr. Raymond gets into a lot of the why as well." His journals tend to be a bunch of research into something (well, several somethings) and involve a lot more words and almost no images.
Connor is interested in continuing to watch the videos along with William, but he wants to get back to a more print-rich history program at this time, and wants to watch these "for fun."
Since William was really my target audience for this, I'm totally fine with it.
What do I think? I love that my kids are able to be very independent in working with this. I really like the projects involved, especially the whole create-your-own-textbook that the journal turns into. The fact that my word-loving son can create a text-heavy journal, and my word-phobic son can create a image-heavy journal -- and both are following the instructions -- means a lot to me.
I love this whole idea. Downloadable video, that you can view on a variety of devices (or you can even purchase DVDs) is convenient and gives me fewer things to lose. I love that.
Are you interested in checking this out? First off, you can go to the website and order a sample of the first two weeks of lessons. That is a fantastic offer, and it really should give you a good feel for the program.
And you can WIN a digital version from me right here, which would cost $75 to purchase right now.
a Rafflecopter giveaway
Thanks to Compass Classroom for the review and giveaway copies of this curriculum. I was not required to write a positive review, and all opinions here are those of myself or my boys.