Last spring Elijah came to me and asked, “Mom, can I study American History next year . . . by field trip?” I love that he asked, and while I wanted to make his wish come true, it simply wasn’t going to be financially feasible for us to spend weeks on the east coast exploring Plymouth Plantation and Colonial Williamsburg. However, we have gobs of field trip opportunities in our state, and I didn’t want to be too quick to dismiss his request.
After some serious conversations with myself, I decided field trips should be part of his class, but I also wanted him to have a teacher. I wanted someone who was as passionate about American history as I am about creative writing.
I started scouring curriculum but couldn’t find what I wanted. Then I stumbled upon Dave Raymond’s American History. I downloaded and previewed the free lessons, and I was sold.
I purchased Dave Raymond’s American History immediately. When it came, I worked my way through the first week’s worth of videos which detailed the class. Elijah and I decided on a schedule which he started at the beginning of July.
Our Schedule with David Raymond’s American History
- Watches five lectures and takes notes. The lecture is typically 10-15 minutes each day, but Elijah often has to rewind in order to take excellent notes. Elijah finds Mr. Raymond interesting, and he is truly enjoying American History.
- Elijah also spends time each day reading coordinating literature. He will be receiving credit for American History and American Literature.
- Listens to corresponding American History Stories (audio files available for purchase that go with Dave Raymond’s American History)
- Completes essay test
- Creates portfolio page for the week
Sample Pages from Elijah’s American History Portfolio
How We Are Tweaking Dave Raymond’s History
I know some strict homeschool mama could get her denim jumper in a knot here just thinking about how much we are omitting from this course, but I do what works for my kids, so that’s what we are doing.
I already mentioned the pieces of the program we are including:
- Essay Tests
- Weekly Portfolio Pages
- Audio Files
We are omitting:
- Daily Assignments
As I looked through the daily assignments, I felt as if many of them were intense and time consuming. I do not require Elijah to do the assignments. I do, however, keep my eye on the daily assignments and use some of them as discussion points. In lieu of the daily assignments, I organized an American Literature course for Elijah.
- Quarterly Projects
I am not requiring Elijah to recreate a colonial map or present a costumed speech. We will also skip the research paper, but at the end of the course, he will complete the hour project (as it is right up our interest-led learning alley). He’s already mentioned talking to his pottery teacher about making some Mesoamerican pieces.
We are adding:
- Field Trips!
We are adding full day field trips to this course. We’ve already experienced amazing days of hands on learning at an Indian Market & Festival as well as visited The Old Fort for a day learning about The French and Indian War. We have eight more field trips planned which will cover The Revolutionary War, The War of 1812, slavery, Andrew Jackson, and The Civil War.
- Studying for the CLEP Test
I want Elijah to have experience taking CLEP tests. He will begin studying for U.S. History I when he completes this course.
Since we are going off the rails for Dave Raymond’s American History, I decided I needed to estimate how many hours Elijah was spending on this course. This is my rough estimate:
Lectures & Taking Notes = 43 hours
Essay Tests = 26 hours
Portfolio Creation = 26 hours
Field Trips = 50 hours
Hours Project = 10-20 hours
Studying for American History CLEP Test = 5 hours
Final Tally = 160-170 hours
The general idea is 60-90 hours is equivalent to 1 semester of learning. Since I am the teacher, administrator, guidance counselor, and MOM, I have decided the final count is enough to award credit for an entire year of American History.
Determining a Grade for American History
Grade will be based on the following criteria:
- Active Field Trip Participation 20%
- Essay Tests 35%
- Portfolio Pages 35%
- Hours Project 10%
If you need an easy, free gradebook, try this one.
Thanks for your detailed course description. From your tag line, I assume you did this for a 10th grader?? Now that you have completed the Dave Raymond course, with your adaptations, could you provide an update on what went well & what you might have done differently? How did the CLEP go? Also, what literature did you use to accompany this? I’m looking at possibilities for my son for the next school year (8th grade). Would appreciate your comments. Thanks!
Yes, my son completed this course in 10th grade. We wouldn’t change anything. He was engaged and learned how to take better notes, how to complete essay tests, how to manage his time on Fridays (in order to get the “scrapbook” pages and the tests completed). I loved the richness of the field trips–they gave us American History memories that we still talk about. 🙂
He started the Dave Raymond course in July and completed it in February. He started studying for the CLEP in February and passed the CLEP exam in March. He started studying for the American Lit. in May (I think) and passed it in July. The American Literature CLEP was TOUGH, but he did it. I would not recommend it for a student in junior high, but maybe an exceptionally bright/mature kid could handle it.
You can find our literature list here: https://www.walkingbytheway.com/blog/high-school-american-literature-homeschool/ (You’ll find a PDF list of titles matching Dave Raymond’s plan).
A motivated 8th grader could do this. My younger son is in 6th and would like to start CLEP exams in junior high. He has his eye on this one. I think it’s within his reach, but it will be a lot of work, and I need him to WANT to do it (or he will be miserable).
Please let me know if you have any other questions. 🙂
I love all of the courses you have planned over the years for your kids. Thanks so much for sharing. What did Elijah use to make his American History portfolio pages? I love them and I think my child would enjoy making something similar. Thank you.