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Dave Raymond's American History DVD Set Review by Laura O’Neill

Dave Raymond
Compass Classroom
609 West Iris
Nashville, TN 37204

There is a saying that to know where you are going, you need to know where you have been. In other words, you need to spend time learning history as it influences modern day and beyond.

When it comes to studying history, there are many approaches. For the Christian homeschooler, a program which applies a Christian worldview lens is often desirable. Dave Raymond’s American History from Compass Classroom is one such program.

Dave Raymond’s American History is a one-year program for middle and high school students. On the product page, you will find a FAQ tab that has a complete breakdown of hours spent per area to qualify for high school credit.

It is taught by Dave Raymond, an experienced educator with over 12 years of instruction. He teaches the subjects of history, literature, composition, and Latin for Quiller Tutorials and Foundations Christian Academy.

The student experiences a mix of video instruction, reading, quarterly projects, and weekly exams. All of the material is provided electronically. There are a total of twenty-six lessons with each lesson containing five video lessons which range in length of ten to fifteen minutes. A Teacher’s Guide is included as well.

The full retail cost is listed as $120 with the option to add streaming access as well. When purchasing, you can elect to have a physical DVD set mailed or download all of the files. Your purchase provides a license for the family. To use this in co-ops or schools requires an additional license with fee from Compass Classroom.

This course is broken into two parts covering a total of 26 lessons. Specific lessons are:

Part I

The Banner of the Sun: Meso-America
Brave New World: The Early Explorers
The Colossus of Empire: The Colonies
Stability and Change: The Reformational Colonies
A City Upon a Hill: The Puritans
A Foreign War at Home: Wars of Control
Grace, the Founder of Liberty: The Great Awakening
Fathers of Independence: Adams, Franklin, Witherspoon, and Henry
Liberty or Death: The Declaration of Independence
Awesome Providence I: The War of Independence
Awesome Providence II: The War of Independence
A More Perfect Union: The Constitution

Part II

Federal Headship: George Washington
How Good and Pleasant It Is: Adams and Jefferson
Manifest Destiny: Settlers, Explorers, and War
Word and Deed: JQ Adams and Andrew Jackson
The Original United Nations: The Expansion of the Early US
Idols of Mercy: Revival, Counterfeits, and Art
A House Divided I: The Age of Compromise and Divided Cultures
A House Divided II: Lincoln and Secession
The Second War for Independence: The War Between the States
Brother Against Brother: The War Between the States
The Lost Cause: Reconstruction
A New Normal: The West, Immigration, and Robber Barons
Theology as Biography: Theodore Roosevelt and Booker T. Washington

The Teacher Guide provides a scope and sequence as well as how to walk through the course. This includes discussion of the portfolio which the student will generate as they walk through the class. The portfolio is basically a scrapbook of their learning adventure. For the projects and portfolio, a suggested grading guide is provided. Answers for the weekly exams are given as well. Some are more specific than others for what should be included in the answer. An appendix in the guide provides an expanded reading list for the student.

The Student Reader walks them through the class by lesson with segments of reading to be completed that tie with the lecture on the DVD. Additional reading is provided when needed, with some of the reading coming from the Bible. Occasionally, there are illustrations to support the reading. However, most of the time the pages are void of pictures.

Both the Student Reader and the Teacher Guide are available in Kindle and pdf format. There is a Part 1 and Part 2 for these materials Each Student Reader totals more than 200 pages. Before beginning the video instruction, the parent and student can determine whether to print the materials or put them onto a tablet for reading. Ultimately, the decision is based upon the way your child prefers to read the base material.

The question to print or just use the materials in their original electronic format is one that is often up for debate in our house. If you want to save on paper, the answers to each question on the Student Reader lesson exams can be written into a notebook or typed into a document for the parent to grade.

As a homeschool parent, I appreciate the ability to provide my student with the DVD to watch after he has read the particular material in the Student Reader. The weekly exams are there to assess comprehension of the material, yet are set up in such a way to not overwhelm them.

The video presentation goes between a video of Dave Raymond giving his lecture and different images for that topic. When you see Mr. Raymond, he is standing with a blue screen behind him. It is from segments of seeing him lecture that you are taken to the different images for the topic.

While we were reviewing this program, we paid a visit to family for the holidays. A family member who was in the room while my high school son was watching the videos commented that she found presentation on the dry side. This caused me to watch several of the segments from that particular section.

I found that Mr. Raymond was physically animated with lots of hand motion while speaking with plenty of inflection in his voice. I mention all this as the video for American History is truly providing the homeschool student with a lecture experience as if going to a classroom. It is not trying to copy the format of some cable stations with re-enactments of history to bring it to life.

The program does include four projects for them to complete. Each project is done within a quarter of the year. Instructions are given in video format on the DVDs when they should begin their work on it. Those video instructions include images of other student’s Colonial Map project have photos of the different maps drawn by his previous students. Additionally, he shares how the parent should be grading the project.

Recognizing that some students do well with audio reinforcement, Compass Classroom offers mp3 downloads of songs and stories for an additional fee. The songs product contains a total of 26 selections through American History. The stories download has historical dramatizations, and profiles of historical figures and events which originally aired on the radio. Each of those segments run from twenty to thirty minutes in length. On the product pages, you will find a scope and sequence pairing each audio file with the particular unit in American History.

If asked whether I recommend this product, I would say yes with a caveat. If your child expects a lot of bells and whistles, then they may be disappointed. However, I believe that coupled with a few exciting films and novels they will have a well-rounded experience in learning American History. The bonus is that God is fully welcomed into the material and the examination of different faith beliefs that governed people through time.

-Product review by Laura O’Neill, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, January, 2017