Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Narrowing the Fine Science of TruthQuest History Planning (Part 3)...

I've been reflecting on Part 1 and Part 2 of this series, as well as what I've learned in preparation for my third year of TruthQuest History planning.  There are many decisions to be made in creating your own history study based on a living book approach.  In Vol. 3, p. 20, Charlotte Mason reminds us, The effort of decision making is the greatest effort in life.  Though this is a huge responsibility, it doesn't have to be overwhelming.  Let's break it down....

Big Picture

Think about planning your family vacation.  Usually, you determine a destination as your first step.  This is not a time for details about how you will get there and what you will do along the way.  It's simply deciding where you want to go.  Planning your history study is like planning your family vacation.  First, what is it you hope to accomplish?  When your kids are finished with their history study, what do you want that "finished product" to look like?  Where do you want your students to go?  More specifically related to history, you might ask questions like, what time period will you start and end with?  Are you going to teach history chronological or random?  Do you desire Biblical Worldview or secular teaching?  In other words, begin with the end in mind.

Your Year

Next, decide what time period you will study in the particular year your planning.  What topics or units do you wish to study?  This fall we'll be studying Civil War to Modern Times.  In previous posts, I showed you my initial planning charts from the past two years, where I went through the TruthQuest guide for the time period we were set to study, typed the Table of Contents, and pulled out books of interest to me.  These books were possibilities for that particular school year.  I then use this chart as my road map.  It shows me different ways to get to my destination. 

Your Term

Now, I start to divide and conquer!  A typical school year is 36 weeks.  For the past few years, we've schooled in three 12-week terms, taking a one week break between each term.  There are many ways to divide up that 36 weeks, to which I will not get into here.  The point being, this is where you start narrowing your focus to get more detailed. 

When I look at the TruthQuest History American History for Young Students III, I see two natural divisions.  These being the Industrial Revolution and the World to Modern Wars.  Since we're beginning our year with the continued Civil War study from last year, this will give us three main topics to cover, one in each 12-week term.   It will look something like this....

Term 1 - TQ AHFYS II, sections 39-49 (end)
Civil War

Term 2 - TQ AHFYS III, sections 1-19
Industrial Revolution - Great Depression

Term 3 - TQ AHFYS III, sections 20-36 (end)
World to Modern Wars

I then look at the books from my chart listed under these sections and start picking, choosing, and culling.  I know from past years that we can read approx. 25-50 books per term depending on the amount of picture vs. chapter books.  This is where I'll look at other book lists such as Sonlight, Beautiful Feet, Veritas Press, Ambleside Online, etc., to see what their recommendations are for this time period.  I tend toward books with the greatest "popularity".  Usually, you can see patterns and pick out the "must reads". 

Your Week

Once you have some book choices narrowed by term, it's time to take a look at your weeks.  Divide the number of books you intend to read by the number of weeks, making sure that it's feasible.  I schedule anywhere from three to five books per week, again, depending on whether they're picture or chapter books. 

Your Day

Last, but not least take a look at how many days per week you intend to study history.  Then how much time per day you plan to study.  Will you have a family read aloud?  Will your students have individual history books to read in addition to your family read aloud?    I tend to get a little hung up on this last step because I think it really goes hand in hand with several of the other steps.  I showed you another chart in Post 2 that had books scheduled by chapter/page number daily.  I also shared how this cramped my style.  Some people like a daily plan, however, I find it too restrictive so I tend to get a general idea, but am not afraid to wing it depending on life. After all, life happens and I think it's important that our kids learn flexibility within reason. 

If you are following the Charlotte Mason method, a general guideline per lesson is as follows:

Grades 1-3: 15-20 minutes
Grades 4-6: 20-30 minutes
Grades 7-9: 30-45 minutes

Because history is our favorite subject, we tend to spend a little longer by breaking it into two sessions.  For example, we have scheduled history lessons for approx. 20-30 minutes per day, four days per week, during "school time".  This time includes their narration and notebooking.  In addition, last year, I started a history read aloud at bedtime, which the kids LOVE.  We do this as many nights as possible, depending on other activities going on.  It's typically 4-6 nights per week, usually greater in the dark, cold, Wisconsin winter months.   This extra reading allows us to cover more ground and read twice as many books!

So, there you have it.  This is how I plan our living book approach to history using TruthQuest guides.  TruthQuest history is not open and go.  It's not curricula in a box.  It is a guide to assist you in your literature-based study.  There is no right or wrong.  Michelle Miller has created an outstanding resource for a chronological living book approach, which happens to also include Christ-centered worldview commentary to help you see the hand of God throughout HIStory.  Keep in mind, there are no TruthQuest police.  Take it and make it your own!

How do you plan your living book history study?  Are you using TruthQuest History guides?  Please leave questions or comments below....

No comments:

Post a Comment