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Can you talk to me about Notgrass?

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Notgrass American History and Notgrass World History are each a full-year, high school level history program. Each has a 2-volume history text and a 3rd volume of source documents and speeches, essays, poems, etc. from authors of the time. Each program has 30 units, with each unit scheduled to take 1 week. There are 5 chapters per unit, with the first 4 chapters being the history text, and the 5th chapter being the Bible study chapter. The history text portion is from an evangelical Christian perspective, but that is pretty much kept to the Bible study chapters. It is written in an enjoyable, informal style. It can be done solo by the student. We did all of the 2 volumes of the history text, and about 75% of the source document volume. There are plenty of research/writing assignment ideas. There is also an optional quiz/test packet available.


We did Notgrass American History last year (largely because of the primary source volume) and loved the program. When researching options, I had really liked what I saw from the samples at the website; and the source document book was the clincher for me -- not having to hunt all that down myself! Also, we had previously done 2 years of world history with Spielvogel's Human Odyssey, and, while there are many aspects I like about it, it's... well... a textbook. (In contrast, Notgrass was refreshingly informal and more conversational in tone.) Spielvogel is kinda dry, and also slightly/subtly antagonistic towards The Church. Also it leans a bit pro-socialism and it glossed over just how huge and horrible the decisions of Stalin and Hitler were in wiping out huge numbers of people.


Just to balance this, others on this board have shared that they feel the writing of Notgrass is boring; and since it's all B&W photos and illustrations, some students have found it to be a visually dull program. Others who are looking for a Catholic or Reformed perspective are unhappy with the distinctly Evangelical Christian perspective.


We did not use the optional quiz/test booklet, which also has study/review questions for each chapter. We made our own American Lit., and so did not use Notgrass' Lit. (which is really more of a supplemental reading list with a very general schedule, a brief biography on the author, just a few comprehension questions, and a few writing assignment ideas). We read (sometimes just skimming) about 70% of the Bible study chapters, but did not do any of the Scripture memory or other reading/research options to go with that. The Bible study chapters were actually quite interesting, as they put specific issues/events just read about in the previous 4 chapters for that week into a worldview context, making it very easy to see WHY we read about history -- how history applies to our lives and choices.



As far as assigning credits: I assigned the program 1 credit for History.


I would NOT assign a credit for English. Here's why: the "English" portion of Notgrass consists of a literature LIST (mix of about a 12 works: about half are classics, several are biographies, and the rest are historical fiction and "lite" works). There are only a few comprehension questions, and a few writing assignment ideas. There is NO literary analysis. There are NO discussion questions. There is NO instruction in writing or grammar. There is NO grammar work or vocabulary work.


Instead, I would call the English portion of Notgrass a "supplemental reading list" to accompany the history. Or, you could use about half of the books on the literature list (the classics on the list) as a springboard for creating your own literature by supplementing with literature guides, discussion, literary analysis, etc. The other half of the literature selections are just not high school Literature selections.


I would also NOT assign credit for the Bible portion. The Notgrass "Bible" portion consists of the fifth chapter of each week's unit. It is Biblical worldview topics usually based on something from the history chapters read that week. The Bible portion also includes Scripture references, suggested memory verses, and some suggested essay question ideas. It would be a fine supplement to either a Bible study or devotional, but not (just my opinion!) a credit for Bible.



We have not used either of Notgrass' World History or Government programs, but I have heard from others that the World History is a little easier than the American History, and most people do it first. Also, check out the Notgrass website to look at the table of contents for each program, and to see several sample chapters of each program to help you determine if it will be a good match for your family. BEST of luck! Warmest regards, Lori D.

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My dd loved Notgrass World History and U.S. History. She liked it because it was a one-year history survey course. We have always done a 3- 4 year in-depth history study, so she had a lot of depth and wanted a survey course. She also liked the syllabus because it was clear and easy to use. At a glance she could see exactly what she was supposed to do daily.


We thought it was lighter on the literature than what she was used to doing, so I added more literature and analysis. We also used the Teaching Company history videos to bring in more information. Besides, she liked the instructor on the videos and his style of lecturing, so she wanted to use them. I also added some additional writing assignments. We did like the writing topics in the syllabus.

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I'm going to have to respectfully disagree with former posts regarding English credits in Notgrass. I've checked into what local high school programs include and I must say that the variety and depth of the Notgrass World History reading is adequate. It will probably not suffice for a student who would benefit from a strong great books course but I have a very math and science student and for us, it is fine. The author has reasons for why he worked the course the way he did and I appreciate his thoughts on this.


The writing assignments are plentiful and varied... however, we are using an online writing course for more instruction and critique this year so we aren't actually doing the Notgrass writing component...at least for this first semester. We add history channel dvds and other visuals also...for fun. And, we do it as a family which leads to great discussion.


Please remember when reading others reviews, that your students are unique and what may be easy for one, can be challenging to another....also, that each parent brings something to the plate of homeschooling and can add/alter any curricula to fit and individual student's needs.

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We're using Notgrass World History as part of MFW's AHL program. I would struggle calling Notgrass's program a complete resource for English credit due to lack of the components that Lori D mentioned. That's one of the reasons MFW adds in those components in other resources to complete what Notgrass starts. (and MFW doesn't use Notgrass really for full Bible credit either. That's a separate section in MFW's program.)


I guess in my case since my umbrella school wants those components as part of English credit, it was important to add those in for my family.


My 9th grader makes comments in her book when she doesn't like how Notgrass states something. I like that she is doing that with anything she reads. that's my kiddo!



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