Take a Stand! Modern American History Teacher Edition
If this is your first year using Take a Stand! curriculum, start with Teaching the Socratic Discussion in History DVD curriculum, a training course for teachers.
History Content: United States Became a World Power, Immigration, The Role of Religion in American Life, U.S. Imperialism, Civil Liberties in the 1920s, the Great Depression, The New Deal, World War II in the Pacific, The Cold War in the United States, The Civil Rights Movement, Nixon and Watergate, Technology as a Cause for Change
Thinking and Writing Skills: Fact or Opinion? Judgment, Supporting Evidence, Primary or Secondary Analysis, Using Quotes, Paraphrasing, Thesis Statement, Conclusion, Outline for a One-Paragraph Essay, Rough Draft for a One-Paragraph Essay, Taking Notes, Thesis Statement for a Five Paragraph Essay, Rough Draft for a Five Paragraph Essay, Revising, Documenting Sources in a Text, Works Cited, Typing Guidelines, The Cover Page and Checklist, Thesis Statement for a Multi-Page Essay, Counter argument, Analyzing Primary Sources, Cause and Effect, Compare and Contrast, One-Paragraph Grading Rubric, Five-Paragraph Grading Rubric, Multi-Page Grading Rubric.
10 Number ISBN: 0-9790388-4-7
Publisher: Classical Historian
The American Mini-Bundle - 20% off American History Go Fish, Constitution Go Fish, America's Federal Holidays, The True Story
Last Updated: January 2021
The Classical Historian publishes their own teacher guides that are used with textbooks from other publishers as well as one they publish themselves. The Classical Historian courses teach students how to read with discernment, how to gather information, how to think about and analyze information, and how to discuss and write about what they have studied. They do so in the context of history courses covering different eras. These courses implement classical education strategies such as Socratic discussions and analytical writing. Classical educators will note that the methods used are appropriate for both the dialectic and rhetoric stages. Each course should take a year to complete.
For grades six through nine, there are three courses:
- Ancient History
- Medieval History
- American History (The Story of Liberty which is reviewed separately.)
- World History: 3000 BC to the Present
- Modern World History: 1789 to the Present - opens with a review of western political thought then covers the "Age of Revolution" from the 1600s through the Cold War
- American History: 1492 to the Present
- Modern American History: 1865 to the Present - covers Reconstruction then selected topics up through "Nixon and Watergate" and "Technology as a Cause for Change"
- American Government and Economics - a classical approach to government and economics (Reviewed separately here.)
The Classical Historian has selected a core textbook (and sometimes a second book) to be used along with each set of a teacher guide and a student workbook. Students might also do additional research using other resources, particularly the internet.
First time Classical Historian teachers also need either the Teaching the Socratic Discussion in History DVD Curriculum or the streaming option for this course that is available to members of The Dolphin Society (which I will describe later.) This training course helps parents and teachers learn how to teach using this classical approach. The physical course has a set of DVDs with over six hours of instruction and a guide, and the streaming option provides access to the same material.
On the videos, author John De Gree shares some of his background, introduces the program, and explains how it works. He provides specific suggestions for those working with class groups and for individual homeschoolers. You also get to watch De Gree working with different homeschool families through some actual lessons. The guide includes instructions and forms so that you can teach your own students through a complete lesson on "The Fall of the Roman Empire," including the composition assignments. The videos are not professional, but they are very helpful for showing how this approach actually works in homeschool settings. (Parents and teachers who are interested can become certified Classical Historian Teachers by working through this course and teaching some students. They need to join The Dolphin Society to do this.)
Most of the bundled courses include a DVD with DeGree working through some of the Socratic discussions for that particular course—a big help.
While each teacher guide provides lesson plans and assignments, the student workbook for each course guides students in their reading and research as well as through discussions and extensive writing activities. Students are presented with very brief statements about a key event in their workbook, then they are challenged to research, discuss, and write in response to a question—to take a stand and make an argument for a position.
For example, the Week Thirty lesson in Ancient Civilizations has to do with the fall of the Roman Empire. The "take a stand" question is, "Based on the evidence you researched, what were the two most important reasons for the fall of the Roman Empire?" Three pre-writing forms follow. One is headed "Reasons for the fall of the Roman Empire." A first reason is given as a "freebie" followed by six more blank lines for students to add six more reasons they discover in their reading and research. The second pre-writing activity is headed, "Explain your reasons for the fall of the Roman Empire." Here students use a brief statement to explain each of the reasons they came up with in the first activity. Again, one explanation is supplied then there are lines for the student to add six more explanations. The third activity is a more complicated chart that has the student rate the reasons, ranking them as to relative importance. All of this helps them arrive at their two most important reasons, which they are then asked to defend.
For their research, students use the books that come in the Classical Historian bundles along with primary source documents that are available for free on the publisher's website. The more research they do, the more well-developed their information is likely to be. Junior high course bundles for the ancient and medieval periods each include only one additional book: World History Detective. These courses have students use the internet for other research. All of the other bundles have one or two source material books. World History: 3000 BC to the Present requires students to use Western Civilization by Marvin Perry (ISBN: 9781305091467). Modern World History: 1789 to the Present uses two books: Global History and Geography and The Western Experience. American History: 1492 to the Present uses A Patriot’s History of the United States. Modern American History: 1865 to the Present uses both A Patriot’s History of the United States and The Patriot's History Reader. American Government and Economics uses Basic American Government and Lessons for the Young Economist.
Originally written for classroom settings, lessons in the course guides direct students to compare their own conclusions with those of classmates and consider whether or not they want to change their own conclusions before writing their papers. Discussion with a parent or tutor can substitute for class interaction, but however you manage it, discussion is essential. Online classes for these courses are available at The Classical Historian Online Academy.
After students have worked through these steps, they are ready to write their essays and pull it all together. They will first write one-paragraph responses then progress up through five-paragraph essays to multi-page essays. The instructions for each of the essays says, "In your essay, include a thesis, evidence, and explain how your evidence supports your thesis."
Because these skills are taught incrementally and students master them a step at a time, three of the Classical Historian courses are very manageable for students beginning in sixth grade. Students are given plenty of assistance with skill development and pre-writing activities within the lessons. (The author assumes that students already have basic writing skills.) The types of skills addressed in these sections are distinguishing fact and opinion, finding supporting evidence, taking notes, paraphrasing, using quotations, writing a thesis statement, writing a conclusion, outlining the essay, writing a rough draft, documenting sources, and creating a works-cited page.
All of this sounds like fairly high-level work, especially for sixth and seventh graders. However, author John De Gree assures me that he has used these very successfully with junior high students, many of whom were ESL students with a very weak knowledge of history. While arguments and essays from some students might be shallow or poorly informed, the learning experience itself still takes them beyond where they would be with only a textbook. Students with a better knowledge base are able to form more complex arguments. If you use these books with high schoolers you should expect more depth of research and argumentation than you would from those in junior high. It's also important to note that assignments in the lower-level courses gradually become more challenging, and high school courses require more-complex thinking, reading, and writing.
The Classical Historian guides sometimes recommend playing games to help students review and remember information. To that end, you might want to check out the card games and memory games that the Classical Historian has created. These can be used with the courses reviewed here as well as with most other courses for U.S. history, world history, and government.
Religious and Political Points of View The Classical Historian's mission statement says that they are, "dedicated to promoting the American experiment of self-government under law, rooted in its Judeo-Christian and Greco-Roman heritage. We believe in American exceptionalism and teach patriotism through all our materials." While this is the philosophy behind the program, Classical Historian resources can be used by those across the religious spectrum because they avoid biases both for and against religion by using a historical inquiry method. The curriculum includes questions that relate to religions without expressing belief or unbelief. For instance, the lesson in Ancient Civilizations: Student Workbook on the rise of Christianity poses the question, "Why did the Roman Empire change from persecuting Christians at the time of the death of Jesus to supporting Christians by the Fourth Century?" Students might come up with a wide range of answers and opinions depending upon their research resources and a parent's or teacher's directions. Also, remember that the parent or teacher can always add other ideas to those presented in the course.
However, most, but not all of the textbooks and other resources in the bundles, are relatively neutral regarding religion in their viewpoints to make it easier for students to form their own opinions based on information. (Of course, you can use other resources instead of or in addition to those in the bundles.) Two resources might be considered as exceptions in this regard: Lessons for the Young Economist by Robert P. Murphy, used for American Government and Economics, is written from an Austrian economics viewpoint and supports limited government intervention, and The Patriot’s History of the United States leans toward a Christian and a conservative, limited-government viewpoint.
The Dolphin Society
The Dolphin Society was created by the Classical Historian to help train and support parents and teachers. Members have free access to the training videos, the video course for The Story of Liberty, and many other podcasts, videos, and newsletters. They can participate in book clubs and Socratic discussions with other members. Members get a ten percent discount on other purchases. Many additional features are being added to The Dolphin Society. You can subscribe monthly or yearly, and the first month is free.
I think the Classical Historian approach works so well because when students read and research with the questions in mind, they pay much closer attention than when reading simply to cover the material. When they have to analyze information, thinking about cause and effect and relative importance, they have moved to a much deeper level of thinking. Discussing their research and ideas with others forces them to think logically and critically. The Classical Historian courses are proving to be very popular among homeschoolers who want to engage in discussions with their children, as well as among those who want their children to both know historical information and know how to analyze and write about that information.
I absolutely LOVE the critical thinking aspects of the (Take a Stand!) curriculum. Too few curricular address the idea of critical thinking skills. There is much written for the children to memorize and recount at the appropriate times, but are they understanding what they are reading? Implementing critical thinking into the reading and discussion of history is a powerful tool to help our children understand what they are reading as well as form an opinion and knowledge that they will be able to use in many situations in life. I also love the discussion and multi-age aspects of the curriculum. Being able to have discussions around the dinner table with family are some of the most important times you will have will your children. These are very good learning opportunities that are disappearing from too many families today. The children are able to read the material and discuss it at their level; they will understand the material better with discussion and help teach each other at the same time. This would also work wonderfully in a homeschool co-op setting! I have been looking at a number of different social studies programs for the middle and older grades and am very excited to come across Take a Stand! I am anxious to use it in my homeschool as well as recommend it to others. Amy B., Maine - Parent
I have really enjoyed taking this class, I feel as though I have learned a lot about the way our country works. I really appreciated that instead of just stuffing our heads with facts, we were encouraged to think critically and form our own opinions about different topics. The small class size was really helpful because it made it easy to voice my thoughts and to hear other opinions. I feel that Mr. De Gree really believes in what he is teaching and he really cares about giving us the tools to be effective members of our society. I believe that after taking this class, I am much more knowledgeable and equipped to be an active participant in our government. Hannah - Student