Tuesday, July 1, 2014

A TOS Review: Veritas Press Self-Paced History (1815-Present)

I absolutely love history. I think I’ve mentioned it before. I would much rather read about people than about the life cycle of a butterfly or Newton’s Law. It is also interesting to take a look back at the events that have shaped our world. 

History itself, I believe, can never be objective. The stories that are passed down are retold through the lens of the teller. Facts and figures only tell us of names and events. They can’t tell us the why’s or how’s or what if’s. Sometimes those why’s or how’s or what if’s aren’t as simple. My worldview is a Biblical one. This means that I want to look at the world’s events through what I understand about God’s plan for the world. We have made mistakes as humans and continue to make them daily. Even those things done in His name haven’t necessarily been for His glory.

Josiah and I had an opportunity to review one of the Veritas Press Self-Paced History programs. Josiah chose Veritas Press Self-Paced History: 1815 to Present.  Veritas Press is a Classical Education company that provides a variety of quality products. Their Biblical worldview and educational methods fit nicely with my own convictions.

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The Veritas Press Self-Paced History programs are intended for students in 2-6 grade.
Our course (1815 to present) is divided into 32 weeks and has a total of 160 lessons. It is a course that is streamed online and completely interactive. I believe a high speed internet connection is a must. You can test your connectivity on this page.
Access to the class (per student) is $199 (I believe there is a sibling discount). The user has access to the course for 12 months...making it, of course, easily self-paced.

We also received the 1815 to Present Flashcards for review purposes. They are full-color, 5x8 cards and cost $19.95

How It Works and How We Used It

I mentioned that this course is completely interactive. It also takes no teacher prep time. There is an optional literature component. You can purchase the literature kit that best suits your family. I was delighted to see some of our favorite books on the list. The Hiding Place is one I recommend everyone read.  There are also additional activities available to do with some of the lessons.

I generally assign Josiah history approximately 4 days a week. A lesson takes about 30 - 50 minutes to complete. He has his own log in and password. I can choose to stay close (you know how those wandering boys are) or I can work on something else. Either way, Veritas Press has made history a whole lot easier for us. I absolutely love the way it is presented. 

I want to share you a few examples of some of the neat features of Self-Paced history.  I need to tell you that I am using screenshots of one of the lessons included in the Sample Lessons. I recommend you take a look and “play” (or learn) for yourself. It really is a whole lot of fun. Josiah has his own thing going. Specifically a good grade. I don't want to mess his good grade up by going through his lessons to share all the neat things I want to talk to you about.

Marcus and Eva present the lesson. This particular lesson begins The Westward Expansion Unit.

 Scattered throughout the lesson are interactive activities. This one requires the student to submit the topic chronologically. It is built on earlier lessons.

Here is another activity. One negative aspect about the activities (in my opinion) is that you can't change your answer.  Oops. 

I love that the activities are so creative! There are some unique to a particular lesson. This one required me to answer the questions to see what kind of supplies I would get going westward. I got 2 wrong. Now I have a kitchen table and a piano to load on my wagon. Both probably wound up in Kansas somewhere. At the end of the lesson I was informed that I made it west, but my journey was hard because of the extra "stuff" I just had to take with me. Can you imagine? Those were hearty folks!

Classical Education focuses on map skills. I was glad to see it included in every lesson. This activity allows the student to "practice" and then supplies a blank map with all the locations listed. The student has to label the map on his or her own. 

The activity below followed a lesson activity on important persons of the era. These are characters I will encounter again and again as I move through the lesson.

These weren't the only activities included in the lesson. I just wanted to give you a taste.
 After the first lesson in every topic there is a GRADED quiz. This was a bit frustrating for Josiah.

Mainly because it is not forgiving. Bummer. Thankfully, his end of the unit tests have been 100%. I do wish that it didn't count so much in his grade. By the end of the unit he generally masters the material. I suppose I do need to remind you that this is not his lesson. I also suppose I could tell you I failed on purpose. Did I mention I minored in History in college?

The 1815 to Present Flashcards we received are used in conjunction with the online course (but purchased separately). There are 32 Cards. These cards include information about the particular topic (dates, location, names). I am in the process of laminating our cards. They could do with a bit of “sturdying” up.

When I first started to homeschool Josiah I used a more classical approach to our education. It appealed to my own views of education and probably my own particular learning style. However, I have a very “hands on” learner and it has been difficult for him to learn information by rote. 

Self-Paced History appeals to all kinds of learners. Not only can he see the actors interact on the screen, but the activities require him to become involved with the lesson. I also appreciate the repetition of the lessons. He needs it. The quality of the production is excellent. The material is creatively presented and doesn't depend on a dry and dull lecture.

 I love, love, love this program. Not only does it present history in a clear and concise manner, but it does it in a fun way. Josiah loves the program. He has come to know some of the words in the History song that plays throughout all of the lessons. He can now tell me pertinent information about The Monroe Doctrine, The Erie Canal and much more. It has been a fabulous experience and we look forward to continuing through the course.

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