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I Think: U.S. History, The Civil War Review by Kathy Gelzer

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

The new and growing "I Think" series has more than twenty titles in history, government, geography, social studies, and literature. Their motto is "Teach both content and skills with complete, engaging lesson plans." These materials are designed for middle and high school students.

The fifteen well-organized lessons in this particular book on The Civil War contain a variety of text and graphics for the student to read and analyze with the aim of getting the student to think critically, collaborate with others, and solve problems through written exercises.

Some of the specific topics are slavery, abolition, slave revolts, Dred Scott, Harper's Ferry, secession, Lincoln's assassination, and reconstruction.

Homeschool parents will probably want to be actively involved in the curriculum to facilitate the discussion element necessary and to help guide students on the younger end of the spectrum.

What I love about this book is the selection of quotes, speeches, and writings that are from the time period being studied. These primary source materials make the subject come alive. The graphics are varied and interesting: timelines, old photos, maps, various charts and graphs. The graphic organizers are fun for the student to fill out and help him organize his thinking.

The book ends with a comprehensive vocabulary crossword puzzle, three "differentiated" assessments, and a list of internet resources.

A spiral or lay-flat binding would make this book easier for the teacher to use.

Those studying the Civil War with older students as well as history and civics aficionados will want to think about getting this unit study. Considering the price ($29.95), the content, and the all-inclusiveness of the book--it contains both teacher and student pages--it is an excellent value.

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