Once you see how everything works together, however, it should be fairly easy to teach.
The class is designed to fill two semesters. It covers 26 Lessons with the goal of completing one Lesson per week. Each Lesson is broken down into five different lectures (approximately 10 minutes each) with associated readings or assignments.
Each day, plan on scheduling approx. 10 minutes for the video and 10 minutes for the daily reading and questions.
Each week, budget approximately 20 minutes for the exam, and another 20 for the Lesson’s Portfolio entry. These elements can be modified to suit the age and frame of your student. For example, parents of middle school students might remove the daily readings to concentrate on the Portfolio, and integrate the Exam questions as a summary of the applicable lesson video.
You can assign one lecture a day or you can go through two or more lectures in one day. Your student will be the best gauge as to how much he or she can effectively cover at one time.
One Lesson is normally completed per week. Use the included chart (sample) to mark off what has been finished. Only exams, essays and projects are scored.
If an Assignment asks one or more questions, these are meant to be considered by the student as he or she does the reading. You can also use these questions as a way to discuss the lesson with your student after the lesson and readings are complete.
Grading is one of the most challenging tasks of the humanities teacher. Grading a simple question such as, “In what year did Columbus discover the Americas?” is easy and straightforward. But grading the question, “What motivated Columbus to set sail?” is rather complex because it requires a careful consideration on the part of the teacher over a multitude of answers. The reason for this is that history is an art within the humanities which, as Harry L. Lewis once said, “teach[es] us what it means to be human.” A multitude of answers can therefore be given since different students have different perspectives.
That said, specific information is always provided in these history lessons. Furthermore, a principle, or main idea, is always referred to. The real art of the humanities teacher is to evaluate a student’s knowledge, understanding, and wisdom of a given subject. Such an evaluation looks like this:
one person or people resulted in a specific event or culture later in History?
of history, other subjects, and even his or her personal life?
When I grade my students according to this rubric, I ask several key questions of the student’s answers. First, I want to know, “Do the answers of the student show a work ethic matching their current maturity in the discipline of history?” No one starts in the same place as another. Every individual brings a unique experience and perspective to the table. Thus, not all students have the same abilities as each other when answering questions or performing tasks. However, all students can be graded against themselves, week-by-week. The goal is to see consistent improvement in students’ answers exam-by-exam and to evaluate their level of work ethic when they apply themselves to an assigned task or question.
Secondly, “How thorough is the answer of the student?” Consider whether or not the student has answered all parts of the question. Determine whether or not all required information has been included. Ask the student to augment answers that are vague or lacking in detail. After all, history is about specifics and is typically told through a narrative. Students should be able to retell the stories of the past as this is the key to enjoying history.
Thirdly, “Does the student show an ability to interact with and explain the principle through their answers?” This is the most difficult part to grade but is also the most rewarding. In the work of my students, I am constantly searching for an understanding of how Biblical principles work, whatever the subject, because this is the key to wisdom. In the answers of your students, you want to ask whether or not they understand the main idea and have connected it to the specific info contained in the lesson. If they have, encourage them to apply this in other areas of their life. If they have not, review the material or discuss it from a fresh perspective.
History is an art and cannot be mastered in any single lifetime. It is an art akin to a spiritual discipline since no matter the number of times we have heard a certain tale or learned a specific verse, we must return to it again and again lest we become forgetful and slip into the void of unfaithfulness. History teaches us to remember God’s mighty deeds and to hope because an infinite and merciful Yahweh has already ordained our days—past, present, and future.
The readings have been carefully selected to create a fully-orbed program. These readings consist of speeches, first-hand accounts, sermons, letters, poems, and historical narratives. Each reading is also accompanied by a question or two about the selection in order to prompt a student’s critical thinking in each reading. Some readings are easily accessible to students of 6th-10th grades and some are not. Therefore, it is up to the discretion of the teacher whether or not to assign a reading, all of the reading, or to coach a student through part of the reading.
Please remember that these materials are designed to give a student a full course in American history and may be seen as either core materials or supplemental.
The name of the game in portfolios is craftsmanship. When I grade portfolios, I am primarily interested in whether or not the student has created a visual scrapbook of high quality work and whether or not they have done this work consistently. Also, I only grade the weekly (or per lesson) portfolios on a quarterly basis. I find this to be a good measure and encouragement of a student’s personal responsibility and time management. To be precise, here is my rubric for grading portfolios.
Like portfolios, projects require diligence and craftsmanship. While each project is different, they can all be graded upon these two virtues. Additionally, I also require classroom presentations of my students for each project which contribute to their overall grade. This may or may not be feasible in your situation but is highly encouraged.
This is how Dave Raymond’s classes generally break down to achieve that credit. Some students will spend more time in some areas and some will spend less, but there is clearly enough different types of work to qualify for full high school credit.
The reader includes 372 pages of original historical materials. It increases in length as the year progresses. For example, Lessons in the first semester comprise 150 pages while those in the second comprise 222 pages. If additional reading is desired for older students, we include recommendations for that.
If a parent desires to do two or more thesis papers for older students, that is perfectly acceptable and will only increase the amount of time spent in the class.
The “Year Long Portfolio” If we receive one question about our history courses it’s usually about the year long portfolio. Since it’s a student’s creation most parents are uncertain how it “should” look. In short, the portfolio is a unique scrapbook. The portfolio offers students a chance to retell history lessons using their own gifts and talents. If a student is an artist, writer, poet, composer, crafter, graphic designer, etc. they can create their own portfolio in such a way to represent their skill while keeping them engaged in the course. Here’s a video from Dave Raymond explaining the portfolio. We also have some portfolio examples from previous students. Our friends at Half A Hundred Acre Wood have also shared an excellent post, The Making of a History Portfolio and explained how they created their history portfolio.