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Connecting with History

Connecting With History is a history-based unit study for Roman Catholic families and schools published by www.rchistory.com This site is designed to answer common questions about the Connecting with History program. If you have questions you'd like to see answered here, please let me know!

Monday, April 10, 2006

Learning History by Stages

Years ago, when I was a new homeschooling mom, a friend handed me a photocopied handout from a talk she had attended by a woman named Laura Berquist. The handout explained the idea of classical education and referred to "The Lost Tools of Learning" by the English scholar, Dorothy Sayers. Just a couple of years earlier I
had gone back to college to try to complete a degree in Developmental Psychology. I hadn't managed to graduate because baby number four came along and my oldest being only five, I was just too busy (and tired!) to finish those last few credits for my diploma. But what I appreciated in both of the essays by Berquist and Sayers
was the recognition of the developmental stages of learning in children. This focus on the needs and abilities of students at particular ages was something I hadn't seen emphasized in other homeschooling books or programs.

Now, a few undergraduate courses in child psychology do not an expert make, so please take this only as the idea of a mom of seven (ages 22-6) who has home educated her children for the past sixteen plus years; in other words, with a grain of salt. Taking into account the developmental stages of your children will enhance their ability to learn as well as their enjoyment and will make your task
as teacher an easier one! And since I write and sell history resources I'm going to illustrate how the classical stages of learning can color your approach to teaching history in your homeschool..... Read more here

Saturday, August 27, 2005

A Catholic, Integrated View of History

When I was growing up in the Lutheran Church and public schools the
history "education" I received consisted of Sunday School lessons
about the Bible and "real" history taught in school. The only
school lessons I recall were American history. I cannot remember
ever having world history until I went to college. As for any
church history, none was formally taught, but my dad, who's
something of a history buff (mainly American and Norwegian history), talked
about church history at home, which of course began in 1517 with
Martin Luther. Anything between the Bible times and the Reformation
(and then a quick leap to America) was a hazy area called the Dark
or Middle Ages in young mind. And even that wasn't cohesive because I failed to
connect the fact that the Bible actually happened in a time in world
history. Somehow "Bible times" were disconnected from the real
world. Yes, I knew Jesus and the apostles were real people (we
didn't talk about Mary, except at Christmas) but all of this was
fragmented in my brain and I gave history no thought whatsoever
unless I had to take a test on it in school.

My personal revelation began with an introduction to classical
history in my freshman year of college, and later with my husband, a
cradle Catholic and history-lover, who knew about all kinds of
things I'd never heard of. It wasn't just his knowledge of
historical facts (he has a wonderful memory, which so far our sons
in particular, seem to have inherited) but his insights into the
causes and effects, the relationships and meanings in history blew
me away. In fact, it was such a shock to my world view that at
first we fought and argued about these things. I was a cradle-
protestant, and his ideas about history made me crazy!!

It wasn't until I became Catholic myself that I had a religious and worldview conversion. I can't pinpoint when or how it happened, but my world was suddenly turned 180 degrees and I found such peace and joy and excitement that I was
like a small child discovering the world for the very first time.
I'd hear Bible readings in mass that I would swear I'd never heard
before - even though the Lutheran church I grew up in was liturgical
and had most of the same Sunday readings as the Catholics. But now
the words made sense for the first time! And through home educating
my children I could suddenly see how everything was history: the
Bible, the Church, politics, geography, literature, music, art,
math, science...........

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Sunday, August 21, 2005

The Great Adventure: A Journey through the Bible with Jeff Cavins

The Connecting With History syllabus has been structured to correspond to the time periods following the Old Testament salvation history included in the Great Adventure videos and timeline.

In the videos, Jeff Cavins presents an overview of the Bible following the main characters and events of the Old Testament chronologically to convey the Big Picture of salvation history. Mr. Cavins is a gifted teacher who makes the story of the Bible come alive for students of all ages. Included with the video package is a study guide which contains a blank timeline for the viewer to fill out with Mr. Cavins, including the major people and events of the Old Testament, coordinating books of the Bible, and the prevalent historical cultures which affected the Israelite?s history. The study guide also includes maps and charts which are referred to in the video program.

We highly recommend that you use the video and timeline in the introductory week of Connecting with History with students in grades 5-12. If your students are younger you will still want to view the program yourself in preparation for teaching your children. You may also wish to review each segment of the program during the school year as you study the individual periods of history.

What ages is the Great Adventure appropriate for? Click on the comments for more...

How much teacher involvement does CWH require?

Connecting with History is a guide that leads you, the teacher, through the steps and processes of teaching your students. It's part teacher's manual, part syllabus.

When we first wrote the program we decided against a daily lesson
plan format for flexibility's sake, because even with daily lesson plans most people end up tweaking things to make them fit their unique situation and goals.

What we do provide are instructions and charts to assist you in putting the CWH assignments into use as easily as possible.

Sunday, August 14, 2005

Is Connecting with History for Everybody?

The answer is no, and yes.

No one program will be perfect for everyone. Families are unique, individual teachers and students are, well, individual! The first step in evaluating any curriculum choice is first evaluating your family's goals, needs, your preferred teaching style and your individual students' learning styles and interests. To do this I can recommend some wonderful tools and resources:

First, find out what kind of teaching style is most comfortable for you. Andrea Chen, PhD Psychology (and co-author of volume one of CWH) has designed an excellent (and free!) on-line evaluation that has been found to be extremely accurate. Take her Teaching Type Test . Teachers who are most likely to enjoy using the Connecting with History program are those who like to design their own curriculum, but need some help and guidance or just need to save on planning time.

To continue reading click on the Comments button.

Saturday, August 13, 2005

The Birth of the CWH Program

The Connecting with History program started as an outgrowth of an ongoing conversation held on an email discussion group that I've been a member of for about 6 years. That group of Catholic home educating women discussed many topics, but the discussion of history and various curricular choices - or the lack of -caught the imagination of several of us. Over time a smaller group of women started discussing privately the idea of coming up with a curriculum of our own and we bounced around many ideas, sharing some of our own experiences, ideas that had worked and those that hadn't worked. This little brainstorming session eventually evolved into two of us working together to create a history curriculum that would meet our criteria.

What we attempted to achieve was to create a framework for an integrated curriculum with history as its core. One woman wrote out a wish list for the "ideal" curriculum that would include:
- flexibility
- chronology
- cross-curricular recommendations (integrating the arts and sciences, literature, geography and composition)
- core recommendations for an overview along with additional recommendations for a more intensive study
- usable with multiple ages, including suggestions for various age groups so that the whole family can work on the same theme at once, but each at their own level
- background information for the teacher, including Catholic perspectives and Church teachings
- litature-centered and integrated with writing: with recommendations for dictation, memorization and copywork
-suggestions for putting together student notebooks and timelines
-saints, scientists, composers, artists with biography recommendations by reading level within each corresponding era
-map outlines, timeline figures, laminated timeline cards
-vocabulary lists
-discussion questions
-a strong theme throughout regarding the reason to study specifictopics/eras: how it relates to our Catholic Faith/Church.

To read more, click on the comments.

Distinctive Features of Connecting with History

Some of the distinctive features of the Connecting With History include:

1. history is presented from a specifically Catholic world view
2. history is taught in chronological order and repeated in cycles
3. families learn together
4. history is not taught as an isolated subject - religion, literature, geography, arts and sciences all have historical components
5. children learn best when they are actively involved in the learning

To read Cathy Duffy's review of Connecting With History go to: