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Discovering Christ-Like Character (Book 4) (Grades 7 or 8 or 9) Review by Donna CamposStudent workbook and Teacher's Guide, Home School Edition
Jan L. Harris, Howard and Bonnie Lisech
Deeper Roots Publications
13 W. Lakeshore Drive
Cherokee Village AR 72529
Discovering A Christ-Like Character Bible curriculum is Book Four in the Discovery Series and consists of two spiral bound soft cover books: a Teacher's Guide and a Student Workbook. The Teacher's Guide includes 337 pages and includes a Bibliography and an additional 51 pages of Extra Lessons if needed, while the Student Workbook includes 284 pages of necessary course material and blank "Reflections" pages for journaling and/or note taking. Designed for 7th, 8th, or 9th grade, the course will take one semester to complete. The books begin with information on the authors and illustrators, an introduction to the curriculum overall, and then the Teacher's Guide includes more specific instructions and encouragement for use of the information on the Unreached People Groups. Each lesson begins with an Unreached People group Profile; book Four includes the Uighur People, Aimaq-Hazara People, Gond of India, Fulakunda People, Japanese People, Bhotia People, and Bouyei People. Other books in the series, and the high school level study, focus on other Unreached People Groups and when reviewing various programs from this company, we found no repeated people group. The lesson then moves to the scripture reading, pertinent activities and/or discussions, writing assignments and/or questions, and memory challenges. The required days to complete each of the seven lessons range from ten to fifteen, with only one day necessary for the Introductory lesson. The Appendix includes a Bibliography, list of websites, other information, and various printables organized by lesson number and day of use. Memory verses are purposely left out of the Student Workbook to encourage increased Bible knowledge by having the students consistently look up the scripture text; they are listed in the Teacher's Guide at the end of each lesson. A broad range of various miscellaneous items are called for including: the "Matthew" movie, songs, a bag of rice, a shovel, a globe, a nativity scene, various books, paper ribbon, and more. Field trips are a part of the curriculum and options for accomplishing adequate outings are offered. Reviews and Tests are included where used within the program, along with the answers in the Teacher's Guide. The course covers the Christ-like character traits of Joy, Integrity, Forgiveness, Humility, Unselfishness, Self-Control, and Love. The subject matter is approached from all aspects, including how the trait relates to Christ's treatment of us, to other people's treatment of us, and to our treatment of other people--both in how we actually treat others, and how we should treat others. Scripture references abound and the theology is from a non-denominational Protestant stance.
The Teacher's Guide pages follow the Student Text and have additional Teacher's notes in shaded boxes throughout the curriculum along with necessary answers. Discretion in grading is required through much of the program as answers will be based on personal relationships and a growing understanding of the Word of God. Instructions call for the teacher to follow the course loosely, making changes as necessary according to the need of the student. The Unreached Peoples portion includes general historical information that sets a good frame of reference for students to understand more about each particular group, along with map information and any other pertinent information. Each particular people group is represented by a portrait sketch and offers some personalization to each group. The scripture memory verses are completely listed in the Teacher's Guide in both New International Version and King James Version and a calendar plan for Memory Challenge Reviews is included at the start of the Guide. Beginning with information about the authors and an introduction to the study, both books include the same information with the Teacher's Guide containing additional notes specific to the teacher. The Student Instructions are to read from scripture, then answer questions through each lesson. The Student Workbooks are consumable and will serve as both a record of the coursework and available reference in the future as the student continues their walk with God. Written by homeschool veterans, the program is ideally used by parent and student together and will be adaptable for any homeschool teaching style. Considering the use of the Student Workbook, those most comfortable with textbooks will enjoy the program, but the inclusion of the Unreached Peoples portion of the study allows limitless possibilities for creative unit study students to enjoy the coursework and enhance it at will. Hands on activities, such as creation of billboard displays, the design of posters, and more, help more tactile students utilize all of their senses while they learn and encourages working together, even if only between parent and child.
The Discovery Series is a wonderful combination of Bible study with missions education ideal for grades seven through nine, and is adaptable for some younger students. Consistently the instruction is for the parent to offer guidance according to the specific needs of their child rather than stringently following the Teacher's Guide. Helpful ideas are offered about memory verses, review work, writing opportunities, and writing standards and are encouraging toward parent teachers. Geography, science, history, missions, and more can be further implemented by small adjustments to the existing curriculum. The missions emphasis is evident and provides a wonderful springboard to furthering education about missionary work. The missionary aspect alone might have sold us on this curriculum, but the well rounded presentation of basic Biblical truths is even better. The regular course of the curriculum allows opportunity to improve essay writing skills and plenty of personal journaling activities. More information regarding missions is available on the website, www.DeeperRoots.com, as the authors are seasoned missionaries who continue to be active in mission work. The website also includes free PDF versions of portions of their curriculum offerings. Much of the course offers opportunities for parents to glimpse the thoughts of their children, increasing the educational value overall. Consistent writing assignments and moments of reflection allow for the work of the Holy Spirit in advancing the task at hand. The primary goal of this portion of the series is to encourage students to appropriate the power of the Holy Spirit as they grow and become more like Christ; a worthy mission.
The differences in number of days required for each lesson was frustrating, sometimes ten days and as many as fifteen. I found myself wishing they had consistently planned for the same number of days. Although having the days planned and marked as "day 1" and "day 2" rather than "Monday" and "Thursday" allowed for a flexibility that we appreciated. The spiral Student Workbook is ideal for students working in any environment as the book is able to flip back onto itself, and for a family with multiple children, we actually appreciated this consumable workbook as it is a personal reference guide for the future as well. Ample opportunity exists for students to brush up on Bible referencing skills, as the memory verses are not included in the Student Workbook and must be looked up. Adjustments are required for skits and other group activities calling for more students if your homeschool consists of only one child, although it may offer an opportunity to invite another homeschool into your classwork or provides an opportunity for a family activity. The necessity of videos and book excerpts can become a bit overwhelming if you don't plan ahead well enough, but the program does include notes in earlier lessons when additional time is needed to plan for or obtain an item for a future lesson. Some of the songs are less than current in regard to popularity which might frustrate some students, but were chosen as to subject matter and not pop culture. "Writing Scoreboards" are included with grading percentages that will need to be adjusted if you choose to grade differently. Creative billboards will be a fun part of the coursework, but flexibility is necessary to set some of them up inside a normal home. Parents will want to be sure to review each lesson, as instructed, before approaching any subject area with their children. Overall, care is taken in presenting a program that will not be offensive to any family, but due diligence is always best.
Our family finds the Discovery Series, Discovering A Christ-Like Character an excellent Bible based curriculum ideal for students in every homeschool. Various learning styles will enjoy the program as studying God's Word is an incredibly enjoyable experience. The necessity of additional materials may be a deterrent for some, but the instructions give ample opportunity to work on gathering supplies and are well organized. The incredible example of the life of Christ has so much to offer new and mature Christians; this study will be enjoyed by student and teacher alike. Use of the program over the full two years the Discovery Series Bible study covers (with the three additional books in the series) will provide a thorough study of the Christian life and the added benefit of exposure to many Unreached People groups. The Teacher's Guide offers notes right on the pages where they are needed, allowing parents to focus on the subject matter rather than additional planning time. The course includes references in the Bibliography for obtaining supplies or utilizing substitutes, when possible, and some items are available at the www.DeeperRoots.com website. Planned field trips offer opportunities to grow in many subject areas of education as well as Christian attributes, as the authors knew to plan for service opportunities for a thorough education. As veteran homeschool parents and missionaries, the authors bring a wealth of knowledge and a rarely found viewpoint of mission work that homeschools should be teaching. The regular exposure to Unreached People groups offers a glimpse into parts of our world rarely exposed in traditional schooling environments. Discovering A Christ-Like Character is a central part of a Christian education; being a part of that education is essential as Christian parents. Providing families with a mission minded bible study, Discovering A Christ-Like Character will offer a thorough education for children as they determine how to become more like Christ.