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Unit studies approach for high school?

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Well, I suppose what I'm doing this year might be considered a unit study approach. I've planned my ds's 10th grade history and literature around The History of the World in Six Glasses, which is a chronological cultural history of the world and its main beverages during different periods of time.


When he read the first section on beer and Egypt and Mesopotamia, he also read Genesis and Exodus, sections from the book Walking the Bible, and watched some of the first lectures from the Teaching Company series "Western Literary Canon in Context". He also read about the general history of the period using just the DK illustrated history -- it isn't deep, but we go in more deeply with the other books.


For wine, which was Greece and Rome, he read up on the philosophers of Greece, and we read the Iliad, watching Dr. Vandiver's Teaching Company series of lectures about the work. He had to write a context page and an essay on the Iliad. I also found extra material on line, the most silly of which was a "where's Waldo" style Iliad find it!


We're reading the Tempest currently as the next section in "6 Glasses" is about "spirits" -- liquor and the slave trade which is 1600s-ish. We also watched another Western Literary Canon lecture on the play and watched "Shakespeare in Love". We spent the day at the museum yesterday looking at art work from the 1600s and 1700s, and listened in the car on the long drive to the book Longitude about the quest to invent a device for sailors to determine longitude. And because it is December and we don't feel like thinking too deeply about Shakespeare, we're going to watch the 1950s sci-fi classic, "Forbidden Planet" which is based on The Tempest!


I'm going to do a poetry unit in January using a couple of the Michael Clay Thompson poetry books.


In February we'll start on the Enlightenment (which is the beverage coffee), read Candide and once again watch Teaching Company lectures. He will also read up on Enlightenment thinkers and I haven't decided quite what else.


Next will be Tea and the British Empire and finally the modern age and Coca Cola. I haven't planned the details yet, but it will include more history, more Teaching Company lectures, and more philosophy. It will also include context pages and essays on which ever literary books I settle on. I'm considering Rudyard Kipling's Kim, The Lost City of Z, All Quiet on the Western Front, but will figure it out over Christmas vacation.


I did similar plans for my oldest ds who was a theater nut, planning, for instance, a long unit on American history and literature around the theater. He read plays and autobiographies by playwrights, watched the PBS documentary series on Broadway.


I don't think you need to buy a curriculum to really enjoy history and literature, especially if you follow the WTM and the detailed "how to read" sections from the WEM. I like the idea of some kind of thematic hook to tie it all together, and I get a kick out of googling a topic and seeing what kind of lesson plans are out there, or museum exhibits are in the area. I also like to search on Amazon for interesting titles, and am always jotting titles down that are recommended on this board. I just take several days to think it through and put all the pieces together into a reasonable schedule.


Actually, I did use a curriculum as a guide last year -- Literary Lessons from Lord of the Rings. The units in there were a great spring board for some interesting studies.


Well, this got really long...hope it is helpful!

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This book sounds intriguing! It had occurred to me before that some sort of unit study could be using the book Spice as a springboard, but I never implemented it. I love how you pulled these resources together!


Six Glasses is going on my reading list...



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That is very cool! Thank you for writing it all out! I've been looking for another threaded (there must be a word for this sort of thing) history book for my husband. He read and liked The Frozen Water Trade (a much more local one) and Spice (which he didn't like quite as well). This sounds perfect. He's been trying to learn some history. We've had completely different approaches. I'm not as interested in history, so my method has been to work my way through the cartoon histories LOL. He's doing a much better job, but still without doing a history textbook.

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Your approach sounds wonderful; I hope you and your son enjoy the rest of the year!


When my now college freshman was just starting homeschooling in 7th grade, we did a similar approach but without the one unifying book. She read a boatload of fiction and non-fiction pertaining to the time period she was studying but we also brought in videos and music.




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