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Homeschooled students looking for a program for high school Canadian history or social studies might want to consider looking at Creating History. I originally reviewed this program back in 2015 and am now updating this review in early 2018 with the changes to the program that have been made since the last review.
Designed by Canadian teacher and history enthusiast, Mike Zeitsma, this history program covers WWI through the early 2000s, and involves listening to lectures to take guided notes, watching videos, reading articles, referencing a website that explores maps throughout history, analysing photos and other media to study the time period.
The course is designed around a textbook called Spotlight Canada, which he recommends using as a backbone to the lessons and includes access to a Google Drive of resources such as the main teaching powerpoints, printable assignments, the final exam, the answer keys, and more.
There are 2 ways to order this program:
1. A Digital Version which contains all the resources you need, both the workbook and resources that you will need to print yourself. ($150)
2. A printed workbook with access to the files of online resources. ($190)
For this review, I was sent the new version of the workbook to compare to the one I have before, as well as given access to the digital resources online. The workbook itself is huge – like 240 pages. The pages inside don’t consist of a lot of colour (although this new edition does have more colour than before) however they are very visually appealing and clear to work through.
There are 5 sections, broken down into smaller units.
- Canada and World War I
- The 1920s and 1930s
- Canada and World War Two
- Canada and the Post-War Era
- The Years of Change
This new edition includes a whole new unit in that last section to cover the most recent period of our history – the 1990s through to the early 2000s. There have been a few changes to the formats of various things – inclusion of some new small sections and the removal of others. For example, the original book included a mandatory final essay, whereas it’s now optional.
He’s included a list of recommended websites, DVDs and videos, textbooks, apps, etc for each subject. Often he’s included SmartBoard Review Activities (which you download from the Google Drive files and then open in a website to use as an interactive review) along with some extension ideas. The workbook looks very detailed and fantastic, honestly, and even just using it on its own I think I could learn a lot of information about the last 100 years of Canadian history – albeit using all the other resources is a very important part of the program.
My hope is that these resources will help students evaluate deeper themes like justice, human nature, equality etc. instead of the end point being just facts. History has so much relevance to our world, but yet the education system seems to be reducing its value. – Mike Zietsma
To evaluate learning, each unit has first a required activity, such as a research essay, creating posters, or creatively reflecting on the topic through art or poetry, etc. There’s also a project, often which offers several different options to choose from. For example the WWI projects include creating an exhibit or memorial, a battlefield model, board game, researching an local soldier or relative who served in the war, creating a backpack and diary for life as a soldier, creating a video of life on the home front, researching technology of the time, or researching different theatres of war. For both of these, there are detailed grading rubrics to help you mark your child’s assignments.
At the end of the course, there are exam review worksheets and a final exam in the online resource files.
I will mention that this author is Christian, and although during the actual units I have yet to see anything that expressly requires a Christian point of view, there is a section in the introduction that gets students to think about using this viewpoint of history and how it affects interpretations. If this isn’t your point of view, it’s easy enough to skip over. A new additional section in the back of the book asks students to consider “The Course & Truth” where they look at the overlying common themes and truths through each section of study, and then make connections between those and Bible teachings. Again, this part can be skipped over if it doesn’t align with your beliefs.
Please note that this program and online resources cannot be resold or redistributed, however you can buy additional workbooks if you have more than one child.
In addition to the Canadian history course, this teacher has also put together a high school level Civics course that follows a similar format of workbook and digital resources. It covers the ideas of Purposeful, Informed, and Active Citizenship as Canadians. This course is much more intentional at presenting a Christian point of view.
The 3 units included challenge students to explore more about our Canadian government, current events, and politics. Embracing the culture of today that includes the ever-increasing use of technology, I was particularly amused by the assignment to create a debate of specific topics through a twitter conversation between party leaders. Very creative!
Again, you have the option of buying a digital copy ($70), a printed workbook with resource CD ($100), and additional workbooks ($55).
Be sure to check out Mike’s other resources in his Creating History Teachers Pay Teachers store.
Disclosure: I was given a copy of these books and online resources in exchange for this review, however it in no way influenced my opinion. It was simply to be able to share first-hand more about this program with you.