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Dave Raymond's Modernity History DVD Set Review by April Elstrom

Dave Raymond
Compass Classroom
609 West Iris
Nashville, TN 37204

God has created a wide variety of people and learning styles. Some of my children learn well through reading textbooks and literature, but I have a few who need to assimilate information through more interactive methods. My oldest son is one of those, and that has been a challenge as he has entered high school. Video courses such as Dave Raymond's Modernity History DVD Set are an answer to prayer.

Modernity covers modern history from 1500 to the present time, through a Christian worldview. This course is a full year's curriculum and earns the student a full credit. There are 27 lessons, divided into five video segments, designed to be covered in a week's time. The daily segments are about 15-20 minutes in length, and there are 47 total hours of video lessons.

Dave Raymond teaches in a lecture style, walking students through important historical events, as well as discussing artists, scientific advancements, and philosophical movements. He ties together different events in history, creating a much broader understanding of modern history. He does an excellent job presenting this material, and I really appreciated his Christian worldview. The lessons are very interesting, but the student shouldn't expect to be entertained with humor or silliness.

These videos are visually appealing, with Dave Raymond often wearing a green shirt in front of a soft brown screen, or a tan shirt in front of a green screen. Periodically he is replaced with an illustration to accompany his lecture: artwork, illustrations, maps, articles, and even news footage. The DVDs are very well-produced, with quality sound and video. I was also very impressed with the illustrations used to supplement the lecture.

The Modernity DVD set includes a Student Reader and a Teacher's Guide, which can be downloaded free of charge at the website, in PDF, mobi and ePub formats. The curriculum has a single family use copyright, so you are allowed to print the Student Reader after you've downloaded it. There is also a collection of music to accompany the later lessons available to download at the website. If you prefer a printed version, you can purchase them via the website. The 335 page Student Reader includes literature passages and important quotes for the student to read, essay questions, weekly assignments, as well as each week's exam. The 90 page Teacher's Guide includes grading rubrics for projects and assignments given in the Student Reader, as well as the exam key.

The Modernity course, when all the assignments are completed, will fulfill all requirements for a high school level course. It is challenging. Even though the lectures remove a portion of textbook reading, there are still primary source passages to read in the Student Reader. The weekly assignments are all meant to be written answers to thought-provoking questions and responses to the assigned passages. The tests are short-answer tests - no multiple choice. If your student has well-developed writing skills, this can be handled independently. If your student struggles with writing, adaptations can be made to turn the weekly assignments into oral discussions or allow lists and outlines initially, building up to more formal writing as the year progresses.

The course also includes four diverse projects of increasing difficulty, to be completed throughout the year. The first project is a hands-on recreation of a famous work of art, music, or sculpture. It is to be completed by the end of the 7th lesson. The second project is a speech and is to be completed by the end of the 12th lesson. The third project is a research paper to be completed between the 16th and 21st lessons. The final project is the student's selection from a provided list. It can be a visual project, crafted item, or a written project, and should take 30-40 hours of focused work. In addition to these four projects, the student completes a portfolio with at least one page for each lesson. This is meant to be visually appealing and can include original artwork, copies of artwork, quotes, and other things that relate to the lessons. The variety of projects for this course makes it very adaptable for students of all learning styles, and different communication skills.

One of my favorite things about this course is that the planning is very easy. The student can sit down on a daily basis, watch the lesson, then turn to the day's assignments. Every day, they simply have to do the next thing. As the parent, you will need to grade their weekly work, as well as follow their progress on their projects, which are not addressed in the Student Reader. It is the parent's job to assign the projects at the appropriate time, although a note could be written into the Student Reader at the correct lesson, referring an independent learner to the Teacher's Guide for the project. The Student Reader also does not have weekly reminders to add to the student's portfolio, so that will take reminders initially.

As a parent, I appreciate the guidance given in the Teacher's Guide for grading the student's assignments and tests. Dave Raymond makes a point to grade according to the maturity and abilities of the student. He provides questions to ask yourself when grading their daily work, as well as rubrics for the portfolio and the four major projects. This guidance is very helpful since I do have children with different levels of writing abilities and varying levels of focus. Dave Raymond's questions help me to judge their understanding, their effort, and their knowledge of facts as part of the grading process.

Dave Raymond's Modernity History DVD Set is an excellent history course. The set is reusable within families and benefits students with a variety of learning styles. Although it is adaptable for students of different ability levels, I believe it is most suited for 10th - 12th grade students with average to advanced abilities. The course is user-friendly and effectively designed to engage students in multiple learning styles so they can not only learn the facts of modern history, but also how it affects our lives as Christians today.

-Product review by April Elstrom, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, January, 2017