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Discover Texas History CDROM Review by Brenda Prince and Lori HootenLynn Dean
117 Garrapata Ln
San Antonio, TX 78232
A while back, I was shocked and disappointed to find out that my oldest daughter had no clue who Col. William B. Travis was. This might not be shocking to other families, but being from Texas, having had visited the Alamo several times in her lifetime and being eligible for membership to the Daughters of the Republic of Texas, I realized that the history of Texas was not something she had ever learned and I wanted to fix that. I was fortunate that a very short time later I was given the opportunity to review the Discover Texas History course from DiscoverTexasOnline.com, an all in one curriculum designed for grades 4-9.
The Discover Texas History course is a full ten volume curriculum contained on one convenient CD. Each volume then breaks down into different chapters starting with the basic geographical features of the state and the state emblems and working up to subjects such as industry, sports and famous Texans Important historical events such as the Battle of the Alamo, the Massacre at Goliad and the Battle of San Jacinto. The curriculum is completely self-contained on the CD and does not require additional hard drive space as it does not install on to the computer. While most items can be used offline, there are some components that will require internet access.
The ten volumes cover the following: Volume One: Geography & Indian Cultures, Volume Two: Early Explorers, Volume Three: Missions & Colonies, Volume Four: Texas as a Nation, Volume Five: Texas in The Civil War, Volume Six: Statehood and Constitution, Volume Seven: Cavalry & Indians, Volume Eight: Ranches, Cotton and Oil, Volume Nine: Texas Today/Famous Texans and Volume Ten: My Place in History.
I found the format very easy to use. Upon inserting the CD, the program automatically loads up, starting with an easy to navigate table of contents listing each volume. Each volume in the list is clickable and will take you directly to that volume. From the volume, you can then either navigate using the directional buttons the keyboard or by clicking the particular chapter you want to go to.
Content is presented using a typical slide show presentation. Each slide in the lesson contains full color graphics or photographs, along with large font text making it easy to read even from a distance. Throughout the slides, outside links are offered as suggestions to read more in depth about the material presented. These links are family friendly, without questionable content, and typically link to reliable government sources such as the Texas State Senate, The Texas Almanac, Texas Parks and Wildlife, or the Texas State Historical Society. Links may include biographies about historical figures, detailed information about a particular place, or even fun activities like coloring pages, maps and recordings of the State Song or of the Mockingbird. At the end of each volume are additional resources such as additional reading, suggestions for hands on activities and field trips, printable worksheets such as crosswords and puzzles. Book suggestions and links for videos area also included in the Teaching Tips section following each volume.
Included with the CD are PDF files that accompany each volume that include vocabulary sheets where students can look up words, match words with definitions as well as fill in the blanks we well as a reading guide for students to fill out to reinforce what they are learning. Student tests as well as the teachers answer keys are also available for use after each volume. Also included is a certificate of completion to be given to the student once the course is completed.
I have been using this with my third graders and it has worked well for us. The information is well presented and the visuals and activities are perfect for keeping my children engaged. I found much of the information to be written on middle school level, making it a great introduction to the history of the Lone Star State. As it is presented, it would be perfect for older elementary students. However, this could easily be adapted for older students at the middle school level by simply adding the suggested included projects or adding activities such as essays, research papers and other independent projects to dig deeper into the information presented. Overall, this is a well-organized stand-alone curriculum for learning Texas History in the homeschool setting.
- Product review by Brenda Prince, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, March, 2017
Another Reviewer’s Perspective:
Discover Texas History CDROM
The Alamo. Goliad. Missions. Indians. Settlers. That's about it for my knowledge of Texas history. Until I went through Discover Texas. This Texas history program takes you from the earlies history of Texas (native peoples) to present day, from times of trouble to times of peace to time where everyone just managed day by day. And at the end of it, you realize how much fun you just had finding out just what it is that makes Texas, well, Texas.
Targeting grades 4 – 9, Lynn Dean created this program in order to facilitate discovery learning about the state of Texas and its history. Discovery learning is just what it sounds like – learning by discovery. Through short articles, lovely pictures and images, and fun, interactive websites and other activities, the student interacts with history. This is an impactful, exciting way to learn. By the end of the program, the student has learned so much about Texas history without really even trying.
This program in an online program with off-line enrichment. Discover Texas came to me on CD-ROM, though it is also available through the website as an online course. The CD-ROM was an easy, open-and-go program. I just inserted it into the PC and it loaded the PowerPoint Viewer and began. From there it was as simple as clicking on the volume (unit) being worked on. All volumes are included on one disc. This program works on both PCs and Macs.
The volumes include
- Geography & Indian Cultures
- Missions & Colonies
- Texas as a Nation
- Texas in the Civil War
- Statehood & Government
- Cavalry & Indians
- Ranches, Cotton & Oil
- Texas Today/Famous Texans
- My Place in History
Each volume includes illustrated narratives, an optional audio link that will read the narrative to you, various web links related to the narrative, activities, biographies, critical thinking questions, and more. Each volume begins with an introduction, then has several chapters followed by activities and teacher tips, and then an end/conclusion. At the end of the volume, there is a link to the next volume if you want to just keep going.
The teacher tips link in each volume contains a huge number of ideas and helps. There is a summary of the main points, as well as a text only copy that can be printed. There is a list of, and links to, a number of field trips that relate to that volume's topic. There is a vocabulary list and activities for the vocabulary. There is a reading list, a test and an answer key. And finally, there is a huge list of books, videos, and websites relating to the topic of the volume.
Discover Texas allows the program to highly flexible. Whether serving as the main curriculum or as a supplement, this program can be tailored to the needs of those using it. The website has several articles with tips on how to implement this as a year-long home education program, how to use it in a single-semester, how to use it as summer enrichment over the course of several year, and how to utilize this as a co-op class. These are thorough articles that provide a lot of information and tips for using this program.
We decided to work through this program as a twice-a-week program, reading and following the hyperlinks within each narrative for about 30 minutes each time. At the end of a volume, activities that are interesting are chosen and completed. In order to allow this to be driven by the student, there are no limits on how many activities must be completed. We are also choosing books and videos that are related to the volume we are working on.
Discover Texas is an inviting program that is full of enriching and exciting narratives and activities. With the depth of information, it is almost impossible to not become interested in Texas and its varied history. Discover Texas will propel the student forward through the history of Texas, inviting learning along the way.
—Product review by Lori Hooten, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, March, 2017