When we used Notgrass World History as our history spine in 9th grade for Mr. Senior 2013, I thought I knew what I wanted at the high school level.
Sharing what worked and what didn’t work for us about some of the history spines we have used so far will hopefully help you to make a better choice for your crew.
Too, I try very hard to be objective about the pros and cons about curriculum when telling you about them. It is of more benefit to tell you about what worked and didn’t work for us and why instead of telling you what I think is a con.
Everybody has different needs at certain times and what may be a con one year may be a blessing the next year.
When we started using Notgrass Exploring World History it was our first official year of high school. Because I knew that Mr. Senior 2013 and I share a common love of history, I thought the integrated written assignments in the history curriculum was a plus feature.
I liked the fact too that it was written in a story format, similar to what we liked about living books and how we had been covering history before. Too, the history spine valued Bible history which is another plus for us.
When Mr. Senior 2013 started using it, he found it very student friendly. It had a pick up and go style that he liked and he really needed very little input from me. This was a good thing for me because as you know when teaching younger children, you want curriculum that requires less teacher prep for your older kids.
The other thing that was a draw, for me anyway, was that it included excerpts from primary sources in a book available by Notgrass called In their Words. It contains original documents, poetry, stories and hymns, which are an important element to studying world history.
However, as with some curriculum you find that after starting it, it requires more work than you want to put into it.
I really didn’t feel like we could cover Bible at a pace that suited me because the whole curriculum felt like a Bible study, which I really didn’t need. Maybe too because I have been so use to adding our own Bible content for many years, I just felt like it was a bit forced.
In addition, at that time I didn’t know what extra reading was required of him because there really wasn’t a list anywhere. The reading was folded into each lesson so unless you used the hunt and peck method, it was hard to look ahead and prepare.
Before I posted this today though, I did take a quick glance at the new edition for 2014 and it looks like they updated their curriculum. A literature list for each unit is now listed in the curriculum.
Something else I realized after getting into was that we wanted a more comprehensive language arts program or at least writing program.
Although Mr. Senior 2013 enjoyed some of the ideas for the topics for writing, he felt like he needed something that was a bit more comprehensive in explaining the mechanics of writing.
It was hard to go from unit studies and living books that we loved in our Beautiful Feet literature to a textbook too.
I could see this program working for a student that maybe didn’t mind a textbook approach and wanted a good overview of history along with Bible study.
Though it wasn’t a keeper for us, I could see that it has real benefits if you use it the way it was intended to be used. Adding in all the quizzes, writing and reading, it was a rigorous and challenging course.
I hope this gives you a glimpse into our year of using Notgrass because there really is no one program that fits everybody.
Hugs and love ya,
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