Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Review: U.S. History Detective

We really enjoy using products from The Critical Thinking Company in our home school. Recently we were given the opportunity to review a new high school U.S. History curriculum that they have produced, called U.S. History Detective, Book One. 

About U.S. History Detective: This is a paperback, 330 page workbook that contains 65 daily lessons. It is designed to be used during high school, grades 8-12. This is part of a two book series that would cover an entire school year. Both books together could be considered a full credit of American History for high school students. U.S. History Detective is completely self-contained. Each day's lesson is printed in the book, and takes up 2-4 pages of reading material. Following the daily lesson is an assignment that varies by day.

What Historical Events Are Covered: Book One covers the early exploration of America with Columbus, through the major historical events of the next few centuries, and ends with the mid-1800's, Westward expansion, and the Reconstruction Era. The material is broken down into nine sections:

  1. Colonial Era
  2. The Revolutionary War
  3. Federal Era
  4. Nationalism Era
  5. Reform Era
  6. Expansion Era
  7. Sectional Conflict Era
  8. Civil War Era
  9. Reconstruction Era
Types of Assignments: There is a wonderful variety of assignments for the student to accomplish everyday, after they complete reading the lesson. Many of the lessons include multiple choice comprehension questions, that ask the student to list which sentences they found their answer in. (All the sentences in the reading material are numbered). 

An example of reading comprehension questions at the end of each lesson

Other assignments include writing prompts, provocative essay questions that cause the student to not only understand but interpret the history lessons, and in-depth map studies. There are also lists of vocabulary words to know.  

Full Color Maps effectively illustrate the lessons.

Lots of extras: I found plenty of detailed extras that really round out this curriculum, including editorial cartoons that teach the student the cultural mindset of the period they are studying, and help them understand and interpret various historical writings, statements, and events. 

Historical Perspective: This book is written from a secular perspective of American History.

What We Thought: We have read through and studied various parts of this book in our daily home school lessons. We have come to the conclusion that this book is very thorough, and effectively teaches the highlights of American History that every American high schooler should know before graduating. We found that controversial topics are written in an objective way, for the student to draw their own conclusions. It leaves plenty of room for the teacher/parent to guide the student in the perspective that they would like to emphasize.

Good to Know: Laura is currently studying for the AP U.S. History Exam, and we found many similarities between this material, both the types of multiple choice questions asked and the assigned essays, as we did in the AP study guides. That leads me to believe that if a student is studying and preparing to take standardized testing, either AP, SAT Subject, or CLEP, in U.S. History, that this book would be a great help in that preparation. 

Not To Leave You Hanging: There is a full answer key in the back of the book. 

Emphasis: As the title suggests, the purpose and plan of this curriculum is to teach your student to read, critically examine and evaluate the material, and decipher their own answers to the questions that are posed. There is training that guides them into distinguishing fact from opinion, and helps them learn how to begin evaluating the reading material for deeper meanings. Many of the questions go much deeper than plain black-and-white comprehension questions and answers. 

Current Price: This book is currently selling on the Critical Thinking Company Website for $39.99.

Special!! By using the code BLOGR315 you can receive 15% off any size order from Critical Thinking Company by ordering before 5/31/2015. If you are reading this past the time that this code is valid, I would suggest signing up for email specials from this company, because they are continuously sending out generous sales and special offers to their email subscribers.

Disclaimer: I received a free copy of "U.S. History Detective, Book One" in exchange for my honest review. I was not required to write a positive review, nor was I compensated in any other way. All opinions I have expressed are my own, or those of my family. I am disclosing this in accordance with the FTC regulations. 

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