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I Think: Geography Africa Review by Kathy Gelzer

Sharon Coletti and Kendra Corr
InspirEd Educators, Inc.
360 Waverly Hall Circle
Roswell, GA 30075

I Think: Geography, Africa is a unit study for middle and high school students. It is more social studies in general than just geography as culture, religion, and history are each included as well.

The book begins with a "Tips for Teaching" page. These tips give you a flavor for the curriculum as well as provide teaching suggestions. Discussion, thinking, and creativity are big components of the InspirEd Educators Units.

A page of African Geography Objectives in the front lists 46 vocabulary words and ten questions. The vocabulary is defined in the text (terms are bolded) and the ten questions are answered on the facing page. In fact, this is the basic format for the handouts and worksheets throughout the book: the answers immediately follow them which is very handy for the teacher.

Each of the fifteen lessons has a specific lesson plan for the teacher with a clear outline of the objective, materials, terms to know, and the suggested procedure to follow. The lessons begin with a "springboard" activity to introduce the topic.

The curriculum is comprised of short readings and subsequent writing exercises on a variety of topics having to do with Africa. Many of these are in the form of graphic organizers. One of the activities is to do some free-association writing about Africa. "A free write means you start writing and keep writing until you are told to stop. Don't worry about spelling or grammar." (I don't know if all homeschool parents would agree with the last instruction there.) Some of the exercises ask for the student's opinion on a subject rather than simply parroting back information. It is clear the authors' desire is to make the student think.

The pictures, graphs, photos, and maps are black, white, and various shades of gray. Some of the maps are a bit fuzzy.

The topics covered include tribes, the desert, tourism, languages, ecology, hunger, HIV and AIDS. One article in the book talks about animism and witch doctors.

At the back of the book there is a crossword puzzle containing all of the vocabulary words listed at the beginning of the book and three separate assessments covering the same material but at three different ability levels.

A resource page at the very back lists a whole slew of recommended websites. I would have liked to see some books, periodical articles, and films referenced as well.

I Think: Geography, Africa is a compact, complete unit study on Africa. Its differentiating feature is the many open-ended, thought-provoking exercises for the student. If you are doing a unit study on Africa, especially with older students, you will want to consider including this book.

Product Review by Kathy Gelzer, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, March 2009