Jump to content


Recommended Posts

My son is currently in 8th grade and I am working on planning out history for his 9th grade year.  I am having the hardest time and would love to reach out and see if anyone had any better ideas.

Background on son: Has some reading comprehension issues so reading takes a long time.  Ideally, I would want something that has some reading but also relies on video or audio.  

My current idea is this, though I'm having a bit of a hard time pulling the trigger:

1.  Oak Meadow's World History.  It says that it is a "textbook-independent" course and that any textbook and/or other research methods can be used.  

2.  Used with Notgrass World History as the "textbook."

3. He would be allowed to search for videos on topics in order to answer the questions--probably looking at mainly Ted-Ed videos and I might purchase the audio of World History: Fertile Crescent to the American Revolution.

Is this a completely ridiculous idea?  What am I missing?  

Link to post
Share on other sites

Some ideas—

Have you thought about watching videos from Great Courses, too?  I recently came across one called “The Big History of Civilizations” by Craig Benjamin. Your local library may have the audio and/or video of this (it may also be on Kanopy, which some libraries have access to, but I didn’t find it there). Also the OER Project courses on World History (one from prehistory, the other from 1750) includes a lot of short (usually 2-3 p) readings with lots of graphics, and they have some videos linked, but sometimes it’s just a Crash Course video. Anyway, the advantage of their readings is that you can adjust the lexile level for many of them. It includes quite a range of lexile levels. They’ve worked with Khan Academy to adapt the class to that platform. You could pull some readings from that. It might work better for you than a textbook.

I have been having my kids watching documentaries narrated by interesting academics, especially when they visit the location, such as discussing ancient Rome with Mary Beard, which includes her visiting various sites from what was part of the Roman Empire. These are generally way more interesting than Great Courses, and show off artifacts and locations.

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

Just my initial reaction: Oak Meadow use-any-text + Notgrass text sounds like a lot of reading for a student with reading comprehension troubles.


I'm copy-pasting a post from a thread ("Need help planning--loss of family member") from several years ago, in which I helped a mom come up with a plan for World History for her 8th grader, that needed to be mostly independent and lighter on reading (so more videos), and that touched on some key events/people in the stretch of history that he wanted to explore. Perhaps something like this might be a possibility for your 8th grader as well? Or possibly be a jump start in planning your own?

Study.com, a for-pay educational site, actually has a lot of very nice videos and online articles on many of your specific topics. You might check it out to see if it would be a good fit for your history goals and meet your need for a simple open-and-go resource. Here are the middle school and high school History courses available.

- Some of the key events are such broad topics that your DS might like to pick one aspect and dig into that on his own, and create a power point and oral presentation to share his solo research findings. Maybe do that with his choice of 2-4 of the 25 key events...?

- Also, because some of the topics are so broad and have so many "sub topics" and bunny trails to them, sometimes it is nice to use something like the Eyewitness books or the Kids Discover magazine, which has lots of photos/illustrations and "snippets" of info that touch on a LOT of those sub topics, so you can see just how wide-reaching that key event really is. And, since time (and student interest) is limited, that allows the student to sometimes pick just one aspect of interest to pursue in more depth, while still having a feel for the overall scope of the key event.

- I tried to provide a variety of ways to learn about each topic (documentaries, feature films, online articles, magazines, nonfiction and historical fiction books).

- I included a few late elementary/young middle school resources, as they can be quick and informative ways to get a fast overview of a topic. However, skip those if your student would feel they are too babyish.

1. Greco-Persian Wars
- video (11:40 min.) Crash Course: The Persians & The Greeks
- video (9:30 min) Khan Academy: Greco-Persian Wars
- documentary (48 min) Top Documentary: Storm Over Persia
- magazine: Kids Discover: Ancient Persia; free teacher guide/lesson plan
- magazine: Kids Discover: Ancient Greece; free teacher guide/lesson plan
[12 hours (24 30-min.) of lectures, Teaching Company: The Great Courses: Greek & Persian Wars]

2. Alexander the Great
- video (11:00 min.) Crash Course: Alexander the Great
- documentary (2 hours) PBS Home Video: In the Footsteps of Alexander the Great, hosted by Michael Wood
- book, nonfiction: Alexander the Great (Gunther) -- gr. 7-9
- book, nonfiction: Alexander the Great (Demi) -- gr. 3-5
- online article: Kids Discover: "Ancient Empires" -- covers overview of Egypt, Persia, Alexander the Great, Chin & Han dynasties of China, Julius Caesar/Rome, the Maya

3. Pax Romana (Roman domination of much of the Western European world, which still affects us today)
(lots of materials readily available from which to pick and choose)
- video (12:30 min) Crash Course: Roman Empire, or Republic: Which was it?
- magazine: Kids Discover: Roman Empire; free teacher guide/lesson plan
- online article: Ancient History Encyclopedia: Pax Romana

4. Life of Jesus (foundation of Christianity, a faith that has had profound world-wide affects)
(lots of materials readily available from which to pick and choose)
- book: Bible: gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, John
- magazine: Kids Discover: Christianity and the Legacy of Rome
- video (11:30 min): Crash Course: Christianity from Judaism to Constantine
- article: Wikipedia: "Role of Christianity in Civilization"

5 Life of Muhammad (founder of Islam, a faith that has had profound world-wide affects)
- video (12:50) Crash Course: Islam, the Quran, and the Five Pillars
- documentary (90 min) BBC: An Islamic History of Europe
- documentary (60 min) Top Documentary: What the Ancients Did for US: the Islamic World
- online article: Wikipedia: "Early Social Changes Under Islam"
- book, nonfiction: Muhammad (Demi) -- gr. 3-6

6. Ghengis Khan's Moghul Empire
- video (4:40 min): Khan Academy: Genghis Khan and Mongol Empire
- video (8:40 min): Genghis Khan Explained in 8 minutes
- video (11:30 min): Crash Course: The Mongols
- book: Who Was Genghis Khan (Medina) -- gr. 3-7 level, but sometimes children's books are perfect even for middle school

7. Black Death
- video (6:30 min): The Black Death in 6.5 Minutes
- video (1:50 min): BBC: Impact of the Black Death
- video (11:30 min): Crash Course: Disease -- Black Death, one of various diseases discussed and how they changed history
- online article: Consequences of the Black Death
- online article: Live Science: How the Black Death Changed the World
- book, historical fiction: A Parcel of Patterns (Walsh) -- 1665 outbreak, rather than Middle Ages, but good for understanding the dynamics of a pandemic and pre-medical help
- online resource: Ducksters: The Black Death -- gr. 4-6 level

8. Fall of Constantinople
- documentary (52 min): The Decline of the Byzantine Empire
- documentary (2 hr. 18 min): Fall of Constantinople 1453 - The Ottoman Wars
- online article: The Fall of Constantinople Had Profound Consequences
- online article: Ancient History Encyclopedia: 1453: The Fall of Constantinople
- online article: Odyssey: Rise of the Western World (due to the fall of Constantinople)
- book, historical fiction: The Emperor's Winding Sheet (Walsh)
- book, nonfiction: The Fall of Constantinople (Pivotal Moments in History) (Feldman)

9. Renaissance
- video (11:30 min): Crash Course: Renaissance: Was it a Thing?
- documentary (49:30 min): Just The Facts: The Renaissance
- book: Rats, Bulls, and Flying Machines (Prum) -- OOP, but can find used for about $10 + shipping
(the "Rats" of the title refers to the Plague, so sections of this book could also be used above)
- magazine: Kids Discover: Renaissance & Reformation
- online resource: Kids Discover unit: Renaissance
- online article: Classroom: How Did the Renaissance Change European Culture and Society?

10. Gutenberg Press
- video (6:45 min): Crandall Historical Printing Museum: How a Gutenberg Printing Press Works
- video (1:20 min): The Gutenberg Press: Invention That Changed the World
- video (13:40 min): Johannes Gutenberg and the Printing Press
- video (5:10 min): Events That Changed the World: The Printing Press
- online resource (requires registering): Kids Discover unit subtopic: Gutenberg and the Printing Press
- book, nonfiction: Johannes Gutenberg and the Printing Press (Pivotal Moments in History) (Childress) -- gr. 7-9
- book, nonfiction: From the Good Mountain: How Gutenberg Changed the World (Rumford) -- gr. 5-8
- book, fiction: Ink on His Fingers (Vernon) -- gr. 4-6

11. Protestant Reformation
- video (15 min): Crash Course: Luther and The Protestant Reformation
- videos: Khan Academy: Protestant Reformation (scroll down the list to get to this topic)
- documentary (55:30): Rick Steves: Luther and the Reformation
- documentary (34 min): Protestant Reformation Documentary
- book, historical fiction: Thunderstorm in the Church (Vernon) -- gr. 4-6; son of Martin Luther

12. European Colonialism [Imperialism] 
- video (13:45 min): Crash Course: Imperialism
- videos: Khan Academy: Industrialization and Imperialism  (scroll down the list to get to this topic)

13. American Revolution
(lots of materials readily available from which to pick and choose)
- videos: Khan Academy: American Revolution
- magazine: Kids Discover: American Revolution

14. French Revolution
(lots of materials readily available from which to pick and choose)
- videos: Khan Academy: French Revolution   (scroll down the list to get to this topic)
- feature film: The Scarlet Pimpernel (1934 or 1982 version)
- feature film: Tale of Two Cities (1935 or 1958 or 1980 or 1989 version)

15. American Civil War
- videos: Khan Academy: American Civil War
- magazine: Kids Discover: Civil War
- book, nonfiction: Civil War for Kids with 21 Activities (Herbert)
- book, historical fiction: Bull Run (Fleischman) -- gr. 5-8; short fast read, but from 16 perspectives, and how they change from before/after the first major battle of the Civil War
- feature film: Gone with the Wind (1938) -- shows the War and after effects of Reconstruction

16. Industrial Revolution
- video (11 min) Crash Course: Coal, Steam, and the Industrial Revolution
- videos: Khan Academy: Industrialization and Imperialism  (scroll down the list to get to this topic)
- website: Modern World History text online; chapter on The Industrial Revolution
- magazine: Kids Discover: Industrial Revolution
- feature film: Oliver Twist (1948) or musical Oliver! (1968)

17. Medical Revolution
- book: Exploring the History of Medicine (Tiner)
- magazine: Kids Discover: Medicine
- video (22:00 min): Medicine in the Industrial Revolution
- timeline: Info Please: Medical Advances Timeline -- note the big increase of discoveries starting in the 1800s (could pick some key discoveries to research and discuss how these advancements changed the world)

18. Assassination of Archduke Ferdinand II (which triggered WWI, which ultimately resulted in WWII)
- video (11:45 min): Crash Course: Archdukes, Cynicism, and World War 1
- book, memoir: Stories of World War 1 (Bradman) -- could read selections of choice
- book, nonfiction: Eyewitness: World War I (Adams)
- book, nonfiction: World War I for Kids with 21 Activities (Rasmussen)
- book, historical fiction: War Horse (Morpurgo)
- 2014 TV mini series (3 episodes): 37 Days (from Archduke Ferdinand's assassination to declaring war)
- feature film: War Horse
- feature film: All Quiet on the Western Front (1930)
- feature film: Paths of Glory (1957)
- feature film: Sergeant York (1941)

19. The October Revolution (Russia's change to communism & 70 years of policies that had international effects)
- video (13:40 min): The Russian Revolution 1917 -- events from 1884 leading up to it + Russian Civil War
- video (8:40 min): 20th Century Almanac: The Russian October Revolution
- online article: Upfront: How the Russian Revolution Changed the World
- book: The Family Romanov: Murder, Rebellion, and the Fall of Imperial Russia (Fleming)
- documentary (47 min): The Russian Revolution (2017) -- on Netflix
- book, historical fiction: Angel on the Square (Whelan)
- book, classic: Animal Farm (Orwell) -- fable-sized version of events from the Russian Revolution in to the 1930s
- feature film: Fiddler on the Roof (1971) -- focus on Jewish/peasant life in Russia at the time of the revolution; one daughter falls in love with a revolutionary

20. The Great Depression
- magazine: Kids Discover: Great Depression
- book, nonfiction: Children of the Great Depression (Freedman)
- book, nonfiction: The Great Depression for Kids with 21 Activities (Mullenbach) -- gr. 4-6
- book, historical fiction: Bud Not Buddy (Curtis); A Year Down Yonder (Peck); Out of the Dust (Hesse); Jim the Boy (Early), or other title

21. World War II
- magazine: Kids Discover: World War II
- online article: Wikipedia: Aftermath of World War II
- book, memoir: Remember WWII: Kids Who Survived Tell Their Stories (Nicholson)
- book, nonfiction: World War II Visual Encyclopedia (DK) or Eyewitness: World War I (Adams)
- book, nonfiction: World War II for Kids with 21 Activities (Panchyk)
- book, biography: The Hiding Place (tenBoom)
- book, real people/events written as historical fiction rather than as memoir: Winged Watchman (van Stockum); Escape from Warsaw (Serraillier); Maus (Spiegelman)
- book, historical fiction: When My Name was Keoko (Park)

22. Cold War
- video (12:15): Crash Course: USA vs USSR Fight! The Cold War
- video: Media Rich Learning: From World War to Cold War part 1 (9 min), and part 2 (13 min)
- documentary TV series (24 episodes, each 45 min.): Cold War -- perhaps watch one per day at lunch, or watch selected episodes (perhaps the first 10, and then selected?) -- there is one episode on Sputnik
- book: The Cold War: The 20th Century (Primary Source Readers) (Teacher Created Materials) -- gr. 5-8 level
- book, memoir: The Wall: Growing Up Behind the Iron Curtain (Sis)
- book, historical fiction
- feature film: The Manchurian candidate (1962)
- feature film: Thirteen Days (2000)
- feature film: The Russians Are Coming The Russians Are Coming (1966) -- humorous
- feature film: The Mouse That Roared (1959) -- humorous 
- webpage: American Historama: The Cold War: US History for Kids -- "FAQ" that lists key people, terms, events; also lists feature films set during the Cold War

23. Sputnik
- documentary (13:30 min): Sputnik The First Satellite
- documentary (52:45 min): NOVA episode: Sputnik Declassified
- video (8:30 min): Legends in Space: 60 Years Since Sputnik
- video (5:40 min): Sputnik's Legacy 50 Years Later
- web article: PBS NOVA: "Sputnik's Impact on America"
- book: Sputnik/Explorer 1: The Race to Conquer Space (Crompton)
- magazine: Kids Discover: Space Race

24. JFK Assassination
- short web article: CNN: How Did Kennedy's Assassination Change the World?
- documentary: PBS American Experience episode: Who is JFK -- part 1
- book, nonfiction: John F. Kennedy, Voice of Hope (Hodge) -- gr. 4-6 level, but gives you a sense of the policies, idealism, and youth culture cut short by his death (kicked off space race, nat'l Civil Rights policies, Cold War stand, etc.)
- video (15:00 min): Crash Course: The 1960s in America -- briefly touches on JFK, but mostly about Civil Rights, Feminism, Vietnam/anti-war protests

25. Digital Revolution
- timeline/infographic
- shortish article: Huffington Post (or possibly the Wikipedia article)
- documentary (2 hours, in 10-min segments): BBC series: Virtual Revolution
- video (11 min): Agricultural, Industrial, and Digital Revolutions and the Information Age

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

Another thought: My Father's World uses the Notgrass World History and spreads it over 2 years. What about that, plus videos from Ted Ed, Crash Course World History,  and Khan Academy

Could the videos also be an opportunity for practicing note-taking from a lecture, and studying from notes for quick quizzes you create? That's a very valuable study skill to learn, and it might help with reading comprehension, if he is taking Cornell notes (or mind mapping, or visual sketch notes, or whatever variety of note-taking works best for him), while watching video lectures and reading through the text...

Just a thought!

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

I agree that content can be covered by videos - I'm biased, but history is an exciting topic. Getting at the content should not be an exercise in frustration. 

On the other hand, however, you need to determine what skills you want your ds to take away from the course. As mentioned above, learning how to take notes can be part of the process. Building reading skills can be another. 

I have mixed feelings about doing all of world history in one year. My personal opinion is it's too much and you're more skimming the surface of the entire world rather than delving into a true understanding of the past. I have not evaluted high school world history programs, so I can't comment on particular ones. I also know some programs/states like to see world history on the high school transcript, so it's not always an option to skip.

I agree also with the idea of building in lots of visual, documentaries, look for virtual museum exhibits (there were a lot online because of Covid, not sure how many are still available), look for visual recreations (I've seen ones for Ancient Rome and ancient Babylon as well). 



  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

Also, if you haven’t noticed this from the samples, Oak Meadow’s second semester is all post-1900. This is not necessarily good OR bad, but I just thought I’d mention it.

Link to post
Share on other sites

We have used the Global Perspective Studies course by Simplify4you for my 9th grader and 12th grader. https://simplify4you.com/gps/ (Farrar from here at WTM is one of the authors...or maybe the only author, I'm not sure). It's been excellent. The first year covers Africa/Middle East/India/China and Japan from ancients to modern day times. It's a broad brush but has been a great introduction (including for me) to areas we hadn't previously covered in depth. It covers both History and English so can be a two credit class, or you can modify to cut out the Literature/Writing portions. They also have a Europe year but we haven't used it so I don't know the specifics of it. 

It uses a lot of videos. It does have a fair amount of reading, but we have used audiobooks for my 9th grader who is a slow reader and greatly prefers audio. Almost everything has been available on either Audible or our library. They also have a fairly comprehensive list of alternative books if you can't find the books. They use a textbook to fill in gaps but each unit has a non-fiction book as the spine. Some were challenging for my 9th grader. One thing I really liked is that they have assignments that help scaffold things like taking notes for a younger high schooler. They also have history questions for each week that the student has to answer. That helped my 9th grader (who also has ADD) focus on some key points rather than just read/listen and then forget. 

I am very much a tweaker and modifier of curriculum. I almost never get something and use it as meant to be used. One of the things I really loved about this was that it provides a great list of assignments each week so I didn't have to research or plan...but it was also easy to modify. It's all laid out so you could hand it to a student and have them do it themselves and not modify at all; it tells them what to do each day. I cut out some things that didn't work for us for various reasons and added some things that I wanted to. But it was so helpful to already have the structure there.

Edited by Alice
  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

  • Create New...